Writerly Play Lab: Design a Novel

Play your way step-by-step through the novel development process.

Are you surrounded by novels you’ve spent years in?

Does drafting feel as painful as rowing while dragging a heavy anchor behind you? Here’s a way out!

Writerly Play Lab: Design a Novel puts first things first, helping you truly understand your novel before you draft. Whether you’re a pantser or a plotter, this self-paced course transforms the serious work of drafting a novel into meaningful play, bringing joy back into the creative process.


How does the course work?

Writerly Play: Design a Novel uses a series of games–improv, visualization, quick-thinking, and movement–to guide writers through the many questions involved in designing a novel. Whether you’re starting with a glimmer of an idea, an abandoned draft, or with no idea at all, this course will take you from the starting line to a solid foundation for your characters, world, and plot. You’ll also come away with a strategic plan to complete your drafting process.

Writerly Play: Design a Novel starts January 21, 2019. For the first six weeks, you will receive additional help moving through the program in the form of a Facebook group and email support. From there, it is a completely self-paced online course – you decide when you work and when you finish.

Don't miss out on the early bird 25% off discount!

From now until midnight on December 31, 2018.

Enroll in Writerly Play Lab: Design a Novel for $299 $224.25

Sign me up!

What does the course cover?

Part One: Sketching Ideas

  • Chapter One: Exploring Possibilities
  • Chapter Two: Sketching the Concept
  • Chapter Three: Clarifying the Concept


Part Two: Crafting Characters

  • Chapter Four: Developing your Main Character
  • Chapter Five: Developing your Cast
  • Chapter Six: Developing Backstory and Beliefs


Part Three: Designing Storytelling Style

  • Chapter Seven: Experimenting with Point of View
  • Chapter Eight: Experimenting with Dialogue
  • Chapter Nine: Experimenting with Scenes


Part Four: Building the World of your Story

  • Chapter Ten: Mapping the World
  • Chapter Eleven: Exploring Culture and Conflict
  • Chapter Twelve: Detailing Scenes

Part Five: Structuring Plot

  • Chapter Thirteen: Mapping the Hero’s Journey
  • Chapter Fourteen: Brainstorming Scenes
  • Chapter Fifteen: Problem-Solving your Plot


Part Six: Planning your Drafting Process

  • Chapter Sixteen: Setting Milestones
  • Chapter Seventeen: Collecting Drafting Tools
  • Chapter Eighteen: Designing your Block-Busting Plan

You can grit your teeth and muscle your way through that novel.

OR, you can approach the project the way an improvisational actor might, with a daring spirit, laughter, and bursts of spontaneous genius.

Sign me up!

Who’s facilitating Writerly Play Lab: Design a Novel?

I’m Naomi Kinsman, kidlit author and creative strategist. For the past twenty years, I’ve facilitated improvisation and writing workshops for youth and adults. Also, for the past ten, I’ve been publishing middle grade novels, a number of them as a ghostwriter with extremely tight deadlines.

All that time, I’ve wished, “If only someone would facilitate this process for me, writing my next novel would be so much more fun!” Finally, I decided to stop wishing, roll up my sleeves and make it happen. The results are this course, and honestly, I can’t wait to take it myself.

What People Are Saying

Overall, Writerly Play Lab: Design a Novel has been exceedingly helpful, both in terms of motivation (because it’s fun, but gets me to do the work) and in what ideas, connections, scenes, etc. emerged. Also, I think it’s very unusual for writers to plan for their stuckness like this. This course is an amazing resource!

Sonja Solter

Try Out a Game!

Want to try the Writerly Play approach out for yourself? Check out this quick character-building game, which will give you a taste of what you can expect in the course.


Is the class designed so I can take it at my own pace?

Yes. You’re welcome to move through the material with the group and design the plan for your novel in six weeks, or you can take your time if you choose.

Will I need to be available at certain times?

Nope! The videos will be released weekly on Mondays during the six-week live period of the class. You can view them and complete the activities at the time of your choice.

How long do I have access to the course?

For two years, or as long as the course is available on our site, whichever is longer. After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course – across any and all devices you own.

Will there be instructor or group feedback?

You will have opportunities to share your ideas and questions with me. If you’re stuck, and I’ll help you problem-solve via email and/or in our Facebook group. You’re also invited to collaborate with other members in the Facebook group, should you choose.

Do I need special technology to take the course?

Nope! This course is available anywhere you can access the internet. If you’d like to take part in our Facebook group, you’ll need to have Facebook access.

Is this course for beginners?

No. Writerly Play Lab: Design a Novel is a fast-paced experience for writers with a solid grasp of writing craft, looking to hone and speed up their approach to the development and drafting process. If you are a beginner, but are intrigued by Writerly Play Lab: Design a Novel, reach out to Naomi directly to discuss options for additional support in the course: naomi@naomikinsman.com.

I’m a pantser. Is Writerly Play Lab: Design a Novel for me?

Toss out that mental picture of a numbered outline. Imagine instead breaking a story in a Hollywood writers’ room. Or picture collaging your setting and storyboarding your character arc in an animation studio. Writerly Play Lab: Design a Novel is about organizing your thinking, but even more importantly, it’s about clarifying your vision of the story you’re telling. Once you know what the story is, everything you draft can serve the beating heart of your novel (saving you TONS of time).

What if I’m unhappy with the course?

I’d never want you to be unhappy! If you’re unsatisfied with your purchase, contact me in the first 30 days and I’ll give you a full refund.


Most of a writer's life is the process.

Shouldn’t that process be joyful? Let’s play our way to the page together.

Sign me up!