plot like crazy!

A young writer's prep course for National novel writing month

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash.jpg

your child wants to write a novel! Fantastic!    


  1. Your child struggles to finish their stories once they’ve started

  2. They have notebooks filled with novel starts that were amazing ideas but fizzled with their enthusiasm when they realized their story wasn’t going anywhere

  3. Your child fears to even start writing a novel because they really don’t know the “rules” or if their idea is any good
  4. The writing in school is boring and frustrating and limiting: topics are assigned like a penance and focus on penmanship and grammar kills any silliness or bravery a young writer might otherwise explore.  

What if it didn't have to be that way?

Introducing...Plot Like Crazy!

My new 4-week, 12-lesson e-course that will help your young writer (ages 9-14) take that seed of an idea and grow it into a fully-fledged, detailed outline that will guide them to The End of their novel's first draft. 

Plot Like Crazy! follows the rules, suggestions and examples of the Hero’s Journey* to show your young writer the simple steps to:

  1. Test their novel idea to determine if it will work in a novel-length format
  2. Decide on one of seven basic plot templates to follow

  3. Select and develop the Protagonist, Mentor, Allies, and Villians through a step-by-step method

  4. Discover and develop each "beat" of the plot based on the Hero’s Journey*

  5. Rough draft 30+ scenes for their novel

  6. Rearrange those scenes on a plot board, for the best story impact

  7. Much, much more!

By the end of the Plot Like Crazy! course, your young writer will:

  1. Have a completely finished novel outline and be ready to start writing their first draft on November 1 for the National Novel Writing Month: NaNoWriMo without getting stuck
  2. Discover the value and excitement in using the method that so many professional novelists practice
  3. Build confidence in their writing skills and in knowing they can Finish a large piece of writing

BONUS: My October Plot Like Crazy! students will also receive a  Special invitation to continue our community throughout the month of November. Each student will be invited to a private NaNoWriMo cabin: an invite-only online forum of support while they workshop and develop their first draft with me and fellow classmates. They'll receive encouragement to reach their word count goal, participate in games throughout the month of November and celebrate with other surprises.



How does the course work?

This is a virtual classroom. No driving and dropping off, looking for parking or looking for a sitter or a carpool parent. The entire course can be taken from the comfort of your own home. And, at your child’s own pace. (Requirements: a computer, laptop or mobile device, with internet access.)


The course launches on October 1st. All video lessons will be accessible through a password-protected platform on my site, After registering for Plot Like Crazy! you’ll be sent a login and password.


Beginning with an intro video on Sunday, October 1st, each lesson will then be uploaded to the virtual classroom three times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and each will consist of a short video lesson, text material to support the lesson, downloadable worksheets for your young writer to complete, and examples from my own novel-in-progress.


The best part? Students will have the ability to peruse the lessons on their own schedule and can catch up if they miss a lesson here or there.

They will also have lifetime access to the course after October.

That’s right. Lifetime.

Will they still get that fun, interactive community?

Oh, yeah. My favorite part of teaching is interacting with my young writers!  So, to this virtual course, I've added 4 live video calls.


Each Saturday morning, throughout the month of October, Plot Like Crazy! students are invited to participate in a live 40-minute Zoom video conference call hosted by me. We'll be able to see each other and talk to each other in real time.

These weekly conferences will be used to review that week’s lessons and address any questions or ideas your child may have. It’s also a great opportunity to share what they’re working on and get feedback from fellow young writers!




Hi! I'm Mary Jo.


Writer, Teacher, Ambassador of Sass.


And advocate for young writers everywhere.

For the last ten years, I've been teaching creative writing workshops for children aged 8-13 in an effort to help the Reluctant writers find their love of words, the Rapid writers to find the magic in revision and the Reflective and Restless writers to find the power in writing and sharing their unique voice. I aim to Inspire, Challenge, And Encourage Young Writers And Those Who Support Them. Read my full story here. Read what delighted parents and students say about working with me here.


Motivated, engaged writing students who want to write a novel, but often get stuck in the planning and outlining phase, or skip the outlining altogether, resulting in unfinished and abandoned novel ideas.

Recommended age range: 9-14


Struggling or reluctant writers; writers who prefer crafting short-form fiction or write exclusively in nonfiction form. *If you have a Reluctant Writer, please sign up for my newsletter to receive games, exercises, tips and support!


F A Q’ s

1. What if my child has more questions or needs additional help outside the Zoom conference calls?

I am offering full email support to my Plot Like Crazy! students throughout the month of October. Just send me a note or question on the lesson that's challenging you and I’ll reply with personalized, specific tips within 24 hours.


2. *What is the Hero’s Journey?

The Hero’s Journey covers the 12 main plot points in a novel. Developed by American scholar, Joseph Campbell, this method of plotting a novel before the actual drafting phase is popular among many well-known authors and filmmakers and it will keep your young writer focused and motivated to create, develop and ultimately write the novel they’ve been dreaming of writing.


The Hero’s Journey is a basic story structure and it works for any type of plot your young writer wants to develop: fantasy, sci-fi, adventure, realistic/literary fiction, romance, comedy, horror, etc. The Plot Like Crazy! course will provide examples of well-known stories and movies to help students understand each plot point and see how they build upon each other to create an engaging and rich story.


                                            courtesy of

                                            courtesy of

3. What if my child doesn’t like plotting and outlining?

As a chronic “pantser,” (one who writes by the seat of their pants), I can relate.  I never believed in planning and plotting out my novels or stories, thinking it would take the surprise, fun, and creativity out of the writing process that I enjoyed so much. But, after years and years of frustration, and drawers, boxes and shelves filled with scraps of novel-starts, I surrendered to the Plot Side.


Working my way through each plot point of the Hero’s Journey helped me not only get a bigger picture of my story overall, it even inspired detailed scenes, plot twists and a deep understanding of my characters. The true excitement of the story wasn’t buried, it was resurrected by using this method! And I'm now encouraging all of my young novelists to Make a Map and use this plotting system.

Let me ask you this:

How many more of your child's stories will remain in the “idea” stage? How many more notebooks will they leave abandoned because their novel idea is stuck and the passion to write it has run dry?


Try this method.

Sign up for Plot Like Crazy! You and you child will be amazed at the progress they’ll make!



Don't let your child get stuck on their Novel Writing Journey

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I see you down here at the bottom of the page. Got questions? I got answers. Contact me here> and we'll chat!

If Plot Like Crazy! is not right for your child at this time, I'd be honored if you signed up for my free monthly newsletter - subscribers receive exclusive news and contest announcements and are the first to hear of new courses.