Shaping Your Story: Building Plots that Satisfy. DATE: Sunday, April 10, 3:15 to 5:15 p.m.

To create a powerful, moving story, start with what makes you care about the story. 

Open Book Bookstore, Elkins Park, PA

This class will show you how to determine the core of your story and use that information to build a narrative arc that reflects the work’s purpose in the lives of your characters. We'll meet at Open Book Bookstore, 7900 High School Road (inside The Frame House and across the street from Creekside Co-op) in Elkins Park, PA. Cost: $30. Sign up through Lynn Rosen's Open Book site, here.

Discovering and Refining Your Story Structure

DATES: 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Saturday, May 14 and Saturday, May 28. Third session (one-hour private conference) in June, by appointment. (If one group-meeting date won't work for you, rearranging is possible, so please inquire.)

We'll meet at Janet's home, which is near the Jenkintown/Wyncote SEPTA regional rail station. Yummy popcorn and other snacks provided. 

This special new group is limited to four writers who have started a novel or a memoir and have already written 25 pages or more. If you choose to enroll, you'll gain guidance and support for understanding the purposes of your story, deepening your awareness of its meanings, and building a story structure that can help carry you to the end of your manuscript.

In our two group meetings, rather than looking at pages of manuscripts, we'll work together. We'll examine what a story premise is, discuss our own premises, and engage in structuring efforts (including trying out several methods in the group) to get at the heart of what we want our stories to reveal. We'll also troubleshoot other challenges we face in moving stories forward. Janet will offer technical guidance and wisdom born of decades of experience as a writer and an editor on issues of craft, process, confidence, getting past blocks, and other concerns. She'll also provide you with methods to help you work at home in a writing diary. Handouts will supplement our meetings. 

Your third session will consist of a 1-hour private conference with Janet to discuss current story structure and anything else you'd would like to discuss about your manuscript in process. If you'd like, you may continue working privately with Janet after the workshop ends. 

COST: $500.

Write to Janet Benton at janet.thewordstudio[at] to inquire further or sign up. 

Janet has taught writing at universities, conferences, and privately for three decades (see About Janet tab to right for more details), including through The Word Studio. Other Word Studio teachers have included Miriam Peskowitz (author of The Mommy Wars and coauthor of The Daring Book for Girls), Nomi Eve (author of two novels, including Henna House), Pam Jenoff (author of nine novels, including The Kommandant's Girl), Ilene Raymond Rush (Philadelphia Inquirer reporter, O. Henry Award winner, and essayist), Rosalind Warren (New York Times essayist), Ellie Slott Fisher (journalist and author of three books), and Marie Lamba (agent and YA author with Jennifer de Chiara Literary Agency).

Please join the mailing list to find out about upcoming teaching (see JOIN tab to right).

PAYMENT POLICY: Payment is accepted by check or via PayPal (see link). A commitment to take a workshop is a commitment to pay in full, so that we can honor our commitments to our teachers. Fees are nonrefundable except in the case of a medical emergency.


"I want you to know how grateful I am. . . . You helped me to explore a creative side that I could never unleash on my own. You showed me how to become a risk-taker. You challenge me." Kimberley Jones, teacher, Philadelphia School District

"When everyone was asking me how I got my novel finished, I forgot to mention that you were the magical ingredient. If my writing has improved at all, it is thanks to you."

"Janet is knowledgeable, engaging, and approachable. She pushes me to challenge myself as a writer and never settles for anything less . . . She reminds me to tell a compelling story. Her workshops have been the best learning experiences I've ever had. Janet has a special ability to draw from her students their best attributes, while encouraging them to continue improving their deficiencies." Elvedine Wilkerson, retired school principal, Philadelphia School District 

"I love your comments on my work. They make so much sense!"

"Nothing succeeds like expertise, and Janet has it!"

"This was an excellent, useful course that taught me a lot! The instructor was warm, extremely knowledgeable, and a superb communicator."

"Janet is a diplomat and handles her students well--while still maintaining control, she lends an air of empathy and sensitivity."

"Janet is a great teacher and infinitely accessible."

"This course has been one of the best learning experiences I've ever had. Janet Benton is a superb teacher!"

"Janet was very personable. You could tell in every class she had a genuine interest in learning about every one of us. I thoroughly enjoyed the class."