How to Write a Novel

From Idea to Finished Manuscript.

Recommended by Teachable







  • 23+ hours of on-demand video lessons
  • Course is completely self-paced
  • Access on mobile and tablet friendly
  • Full lifetime access
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If you find it cheaper anywhere else, we'll refund you the difference.






Teachable Best Price Guarantee™

If you find it cheaper anywhere else, we'll refund you the difference.

Your Outcome

You will finish your manuscript for your novel.

Is it your dream to write a novel but you just don’t know where to start?

Have you started writing only to run out of ideas?

Are you suffering from self-doubt about whether you’re good enough to write a novel?

Do you feel overwhelmed by all the information and craft books out there?

If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, then this course is for you.

I’ve written 12 novels as J.F.Penn, hitting the New York Times, USA Today and Amazon Bestseller lists. I’ve sold over half a million books in 74 countries and 5 languages … but I started out just like you.

Maybe you can relate?

I always dreamed of writing a novel but I thought I wasn’t good enough.

I didn’t know anything about how stories worked, and I didn’t even have any ideas. Years of working in the corporate world had buried my creative side and I didn’t know how to find it again. Self-doubt and lack of confidence made me feel that writing a novel was an impossible dream.

I had no clue where to start and I worked a stressful, full-time job, so I had no time or the self-discipline to write. I was also afraid that writing would be a waste of time and even if I did finish a novel, it would be a failure.

But after years of putting it off, I finally started writing my first novel, Stone of Fire, in November 2009. In April 2011, that first novel came out and I caught the writing bug!

I’ve kept on writing since then, eventually leaving my day job to become a full-time author entrepreneur.

So, it is possible to write your novel and change your life. I know because I’ve been through the journey and in this course, I share how you can do it too.

In fact, the Association of American Publishers cite a survey showing that 82% of people want to write a book, but only a tiny fraction of them go on to actually write one.

Are you ready to be one of the successful few and finally write your own novel?

The writing craft is like an iceberg.

You only need to know a small amount, the little bit above the water, in order to write a novel. Once you have mastered that, then you can spend the rest of your writing life exploring those hidden depths in subsequent books.

There’s always more to learn and discover about the craft of writing, but if you try and understand everything before you’ve even written your first book, you will end up confused and overwhelmed!

This course cuts through the noise and gives you what you NEED to know in order to get that book written.

What's inside the course?

How to Write a Novel is a step-by-step guide to understanding story structure and the elements of a novel, and then writing and editing your manuscript.

There are videos for every lesson as well as downloadable audio and PDF slides so you can learn at your own pace and in your preferred format. The core modules include:

Module 1: First Principles. Story structure, genre, and understanding what you’re actually writing as well as the mindset you’ll need to make it to the end of your novel.

Module 2: Ideas, Research and Planning. How to find and gather ideas for your story as well as how to research what you need to make it come alive.

Module 3: Aspects of a Novel. The essentials of what you need to know in order to write your novel, including character, plot, setting, dialogue, point of view, theme and more.

Module 4: Writing and Editing your Manuscript. Outlining, plotting and discovery writing. How to write that first draft and get the words on the page as fast as possible, plus how to use Scrivener software. Self editing, finding and working with a professional editor.

Module 5: What’s next? An overview of your publishing options and your plan to finish your novel.

Plus, extra Q&A videos with Joanna Penn based on the questions you have during the course.

What Students Say

"In six months this course has taken my writing further than six years of self-teaching. Joanna's positive attitude and teaching style make learning how to write a novel enjoyable and feasible."

Holly S

"Today I finished my first ever 70,000 words. Thank you for all the support I've found in your course. I always thought that the mindset stuff was less important, but through the course, I recognized my self-doubt and could take action. From a happy student."

Roberta S

"I have a full draft and of my novel in process now and I could not have done it without you. Your class gave me a road map and resources that would have taken me years to find, plus you also earned my trust along the way."

Carole K

Course Curriculum

Module 1: Introduction and First Principles

  • Introduction and Welcome to the Course. Plus Downloads (12:55)
  • Story Structure (46:52)
  • What are you writing? (28:53)
  • The Successful Writer's Mindset (31:12)
  • BONUS: Banishing writer's block with K.M.Weiland (47:31)

Module 2: Ideas, Research and Planning

  • Gathering Ideas (47:29)
  • Research (30:53)
  • BONUS: The Visual Writer. Research ideas with Nancy Hendrickson (41:37)

Module 3: Aspects of a Novel

  • Character Part 1 (43:13)
  • Character Part 2 (28:21)
  • Plot Part 1 (39:08)
  • Plot Part 2 (43:44)
  • Setting (41:50)
  • Dialogue (29:07)
  • Other Aspects of the Novel (48:43)
  • BONUS: Writing emotion and the heart of your story with CJ Lyons (41:18)
  • BONUS: Author Voice with Roz Morris (42:37)
  • BONUS: Writing memorable characters with Jen Blood (46:43)
  • BONUS: Tips on plot with Roz Morris (50:52)
  • BONUS: Dialogue with James Scott Bell (39:28)

Module 4: Writing and editing your manuscript

  • Discovery Writing and Outlining (44:06)
  • Writing your First Draft Part 1 (35:17)
  • Writing your First Draft Part 2 (24:21)
  • How To Use Dictation To Write Your Book (11:21)
  • The Editing Process (43:13)
  • Using Scrivener for writing and editing (28:29)
  • BONUS: Outlining for genre and literary fiction with Libbie Hawker (40:27)
  • BONUS: How to Dictate your Book with Monica Leonelle (47:08)
  • BONUS: Your editing questions answered with Jen Blood (54:40)

Module 5: What's Next?

  • Your Publishing Options (20:56)
  • Roundup, Q&A and your next steps (4:04)
  • Want more training? Discount coupon for all my other courses

Q&A Sessions and Extra Videos

  • BONUS: How to Write Fiction as a Non-Fiction Author (37:56)
  • Q&A August 2018 Writing and Publishing Focus (26:41)
  • Q&A August 2018 Marketing and Business Focus (33:20)
  • Q&A January 2018 Writing Q&A (30:01)
  • Q&A January 2018 Business Focus (31:32)
  • Q&A April 2017 (50:54)
  • BONUS Q&A session from November 2016 (59:34)

Your Instructor

Joanna Penn

Joanna Penn is an Award-nominated, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of thrillers under J.F.Penn and also writes non-fiction for authors. She’s an award-winning entrepreneur, podcaster, and YouTuber. Her site, TheCreativePenn.com has been voted in the Top 100 sites for writers by Writer's Digest.

Frequently asked questions

When does the course start and finish?

The course starts as soon as you enroll. It is a completely self-paced online course - you decide when you start and when you finish. There are 12+ hours of material as part of the course, but you can space that over several weeks/months or binge it in one weekend if that's your thing!

How long do I have access to the course?

After enrolling, you have unlimited access to the course for as long as you like - across any and all devices you own. You can also download the materials to your own computer so you can keep them offline.

What if I am unhappy with the course?

It’s so important to me that this course provides value for you, so if you are unsatisfied with your purchase, just contact me in the first 30 days and I'll give you a full refund. Just email: support@TheCreativePenn.com

Is the course useful for people writing in all genres?

I write thrillers, crime and dark fantasy, but the course is useful if you’re writing any genre, because the principles of story are the same, no matter what you’re writing.

What if I write poetry or literary fiction that is not aimed at commercial success?

This course focuses on helping you write stories that readers love. It doesn’t focus on beautiful language, so if that is your primary focus, I’d suggest looking at more literary focused courses. If you understand that literary fiction is a genre like any other, then you may still find the course useful.

How does this fit with your other courses: Self-Publishing Success and Creative Freedom?

This course is about how to write a novel and although there is one video on your publishing options, it doesn’t go into publishing in detail. There are also no specifics on book marketing or making a living with your writing, all of which is covered in the other courses. The courses are designed as a journey, so you can progress into Self-Publishing Success if you want to pursue that after finishing your novel, or if you want to take it even further, Creative Freedom contains everything you need to know to run a business as an author and how to make a living with your writing.

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