Where Hopeful Writers
Become Serious Authors

It’s time to get your novel out of the messy
middle and onto your bookshelf.

I’ve finally made the leap...

"When I joined the Forge, I was still clinging tightly to my outline. I needed to be able to let it go and actually write my novel. With the help and support of this community, I’ve finally made the leap. I don’t think I would have been able to transition that easily anywhere else!”
Lysa Nistico
Cozy mystery author

Remember the day you first sat down to write your novel, full of energy, excitement, and giddy anticipation?

Where did those feelings go?

If you’re like most writers, you’re a few months (or a few years) into working on your novel—and that “youthful enthusiasm” that was so abundant at the beginning has begun to fade.

You still love your story. You still dream of writing that epic finale, that first kiss, or that moment your hero catches the killer, and you still pluck away at your draft as much as possible. But for some reason, your story isn’t coming together the way you envisioned it.

Though you want to write your novel,
something is in your way.

So what do you do?

Study, Study, Study

There’s bound to be a craft book out there with the exact secret you need to “fix” your story—but after dozens of tries, you’re still no closer to the answer.

You’ve gotten a lot of great advice, but you have no clue how it’s all supposed to connect.

“I know my story inside and out. Why does it never look right on paper?”

Set Impossible Goals

If only you pushed yourself to write 1,000 words a day, you figure eventually your novel will work out.

But despite your well-intentioned goals, you rarely manage to make time, and the words you do write flow like concrete.

“I’m ready to do this. Why am I not writing as much as I want to?”

Burn Through Red Pens

The best way to write is by revising—or so you thought. But after a handful of drafts and a lot of red ink, your novel still feels shaky.

And you’re starting to wonder if you’re losing the vision you fell in love with at the start.

“I’m following all the rules. Why does my draft still feel incomplete?”

All you want is for your story to ignite your imagination the same
way your favorite novels do.

You want your characters to feel alive and your plot to grab your emotions.

You want a clear path forward, so you can make progress knowing you’re on the right track.

And, if the writing gods are smiling that day, you wouldn’t mind a beautiful cover to adorn your newly published book.

But first, you need to escape this
messy middle.

Because here’s the thing…

There’s nothing wrong with your story!

It’s just stuck in its awkward teen phase.

The messy middle is a perfectly natural part of writing, and a fact of life for all authors. Every great novel has to survive this phase—but that doesn’t mean it isn’t painful in the moment.

You’re putting in the work, but you can feel the energy being sucked out of your writing with every passing day. You need a map out of this dense, dark forest, one that connects the writing craft with goals you can actually meet, and with the support you need to keep moving forward.

Ready to find a path through the trees?

Welcome to

The Forge

A writing membership that blends craft, accountability, and community into a powerful punch of creative goodness—so you can finally make the leap from hopeful, uncertain writer to thriving, dedicated author!

Master the core principles of the writing craft and use them to create a novel that flows onto the page.

With a treasure trove of tools and the clear, streamlined teaching The Novel Smithy is known for, your story can finally start to make sense.

Learn story frameworks that delight your readers, while still honoring your creative vision.

The writing craft isn’t a strict rulebook, but a guide—and best practices are only useful when you can adapt them to your unique story.

Discover your creative style and build a reliable process that supports you at every step.

No matter your personality, you can create a writing practice that leaves you energized, whether you’re a discovery writer or a hardcore plotter.

Grow alongside a network of fellow authors and kick the myth of the tortured artist to the curb.

Find your tribe, share your love of writing, and get the support you need when your story is stuck and all you want to do is chuck it in the trash.

Lay the groundwork for a thriving author career no matter where your story takes you.

The first step of selling book two is writing a kick-ass book one. Whether your idol is Andy Weir or Sarah J. Maas, your publishing journey starts here.

Get your story out of your head and into reality without wasting years staring at the blank page.

It’s time to make meaningful progress on your story, whatever that looks like to you—because writing should be an invigorating experience, not a slog.

Wondering how this works?

Here’s How You’ll Take Your Novel from Idea
to Reality inside the Forge

Step One

From Dream to Draft

Dive into the Forge’s signature course as you go from initial idea to published novel.

The best novels start with a strong foundation. Through a series of milestones, you’ll walk through our unique Storytelling Trifecta method as you map your plot and cast, set goals you’ll actually achieve, and get your draft done.

With clear tasks and resources to keep you on track, you’ll have the support you need to tackle each phase of your writing journey—all at your own pace.

Step Two

Our Private Writing Community

Join a thriving community of authors writing everything from romance to space opera.

When you need a break from studying, step inside a diverse, inclusive space for writers of all kinds.

This is where you’ll find critique partners to hold you to your goals, feedback on your budding manuscript, and a safe space to share your love of writing—because the myth of the lonely, tortured writer should be a thing of the past.

Step Three

Ongoing Editorial Support

Get an editor’s eyes on your story whenever you need them, no finished draft required.

Too many writers wait until they’re 80,000 words deep before working with a professional.

That’s why, alongside our lessons and feedback from other members, you’ll also have ongoing access to the Forge’s resident book coach through our regular editor office hours, workshops, and critiques. It’s the next best thing to having an editor on speed dial!

Step Four

Masterclasses, Retreats, and More

Hone your craft with specialized masterclasses, retreats, and events all year long.

Beyond our course and community, the Forge is also home to an ever-growing library of writing craft masterclasses, guest interviews, and writing retreats.

When you’re ready to go beyond the basics, use these to tackle advanced skills, polish your storytelling, and grow as a writer. Can’t make it live? Browse the recordings whenever you need a boost, and always on your own time!

When your story ties itself in knots and your writing sessions grind to a halt, don’t give up and put your draft on hiatus (again).

Instead, step inside the Forge and find the map you need to guide you—whether your novel is suffering from a hollow hero, missing story beats, or crushing perfectionism.

Take a Peek Behind the Curtain

Play Video

It only takes three steps to get started inside the Forge.


Your story is unique, and we want to hear about it! Start your membership by answering a short survey to introduce yourself (and your writing struggles) to our admin team.


Within 48 hours, you’ll get one-on-one support to help you orient yourself inside the program—including where to find answers to your most pressing problems.


Based on your initial survey, we’ll point you to the right milestones to start with, so you can start making leaps in your writing practice in days rather than weeks.

That’s not all you’ll find though...

Here Are Just a Few of the Exclusive Extras
Hidden inside the Forge

Bonus one

Writing Relationship Arcs with September Fawkes

Learn the secret to meaningful character relationships alongside developmental editor and book coach, September Fawkes.

Bonus Two

The Story Idea Stress Test Workbook

Test your story idea before you sink months (or years) into writing it with a few important questions—or find the holes in an existing draft.

Bonus Three

Recommended Tools and Resources

Build your writing tool kit with recommended proofreading software, writing programs, mind-mapping apps, naming databases, and more.

Bonus Four

Trusted Author Services List

Browse a variety of trusted (and tested) author services, from book blurbs to proofreading and cover design—so you always know you’re in good hands.

Bonus Five

How to Create Superbad Villains with Sacha Black

Dig deep into your villain’s psyche and goals with 13 Steps to Evil author and host of The Rebel Author podcast, Sacha Black.

Bonus Six

Writing Chapters and Cliffhangers

Craft page-turning chapters and cliffhangers that leave readers energized rather than frustrated thanks to the principles of chapter structure.

“All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap…

We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal.”

Ira Glass, award-winning producer and editor

Ready to Make Real Progress on
Your Novel Again?

Listen, I hear you...

You could keep searching through books and articles for the missing piece that will finally make your story click, perhaps overcome your novel’s issues by brute force, or just give up on craft entirely. Maybe your muse will someday show you the way—though they haven’t been all that forthcoming thus far…

Or maybe it’s time to find a writing process that works.

Writing a novel is like any other puzzle. If you’re missing a piece, the vision you’re working towards will never look quite right. That’s why I want to give you my streamlined, tested system for building a novel from start to finish, so you can move forward knowing your story will actually come together.

Let’s get out of this messy middle together, shall we?

$ 179 Quarterly
  • Our signature course, From Dream to Draft
  • Membership to our private writing community
  • Regular editor office hours with Lewis
  • A library of masterclasses and guest speakers
  • Live events, retreats, and critiques
  • Our database of trusted author services
  • Discounts on books and tools from TNS
Join Today

The Writers That Thrive inside the Forge

The Forge is perfect if...

You’re a scrappy genre fiction author itching to get your novel into the world:

Whether your novel is just an idea or a nearly finished draft, you’re ready to put your story on paper and make the leap from writer to published author.

You have some words under your belt, even if your latest draft has stalled:

You aren’t a total beginner anymore. If you have a few dog-eared craft books on your bookshelf, you’ll be right at home here!

You’re looking for a diverse and inclusive creative community:

The Forge is filled with writers of all backgrounds and stripes, making it the perfect place to safely share your stories and develop some much-needed creative confidence.

You’re tired of pushing your novel to the sidelines:

Though life may be busy, you’re ready to find the structure you need to make writing a priority—no matter your schedule.

Or maybe not so perfect if...

You write horror, erotica, literary, children’s, or religious fiction:

These genres have requirements beyond the norm for most genre fiction, meaning they’re not a great fit for this community.

You already have a system you like and aren’t looking to learn more:

If you’re happy with your writing practice and aren’t open to new ideas, then the Forge likely isn’t for you. We’re all about embodying a student mindset!

You don’t have even a minute to spare at this point in your life:

Life works in seasons, and some of those seasons are more conducive to creativity than others. To fully enjoy the Forge, you need to have some space for writing in your schedule, however small.

You’re completely new to the world of writing:

Our resources are geared towards writers with at least some experience behind them, whether that’s a NaNo attempt, a story outline, or a full draft.

If you have more greens than reds, you’ll be
in good company inside the Forge.

And I promise—though finishing your novel might sound like a far-off dream now, it’s completely achievable with the right map to guide you!

14 Days to Try the Forge, No Questions Asked

I’m deeply proud of the writing we’re doing inside this community, and I think you’ll be proud of the writing you do too. But hey—stuff happens.

If for any reason you decide the Forge isn’t for you within two weeks of joining, reach out through the support form at the bottom of every page and we’ll give you a full refund, no questions asked.

It’s nice to meet you. 👋

I’m Lewis Jorstad, and I’d like to share a dirty
secret of the editing world with you.

Though editing is a vital part of writing a successful novel, it also has a serious problem.

Most writers don’t get the support they need when they truly need it.

You see, the problems in a story compound over time. What could be fixed with a small change in your first draft becomes almost catastrophic by your third. This is why having a solid foundation is so important—and why traditional editing, which only happens after you’ve poured months into your story, often leaves you with more questions than answers.

That’s why I created the Forge.

As an editor, I was tired of working on drafts I knew could be amazing, but whose problems were so entrenched their authors felt hopeless. Rather than jump in late in the writing process, I was ready to walk alongside writers, so they could have the guidance they needed from start to finish—no matter where they are in their writing journey.

Thanks to the Forge, I’ll be here to help you finish your novel, every step of the way!

Some Facts About Lewis

Author and Story Nerd

I’m the bestselling author of six books for novelists, over 170 articles on storytelling, and run one of the best sites for writers as ranked by The Write Life.

A Discount Snow White

I once had a pet squirrel named Tom and have recently befriended a dorky grey bird named Noodle. I seem to attract hungry wildlife wherever I go.

Decaf, Please!

I’m tragically allergic to caffeine, so my all-nighters are fueled entirely by pure, all-natural insomnia. Eating chocolate is an act of rebellion in my house.

What Nutrition Guidelines?

I have an extensive Better Than Bouillon collection, and use them in basically everything—despite the fact that they contain nearly half your daily intake of salt.

The Chicago Manual of Style

I spent four years in academic writing creating executive summaries and literature reviews, and still have to fight the urge to put footnotes and references everywhere.

Frequently Asked Questions

That’s completely ok!

Our signature course will guide you through each step of the writing process, including clarifying your ideas and planning your story. Or if you already have an outline and just need help writing and revising, we’re here for that too.

The Forge is always growing, and a big part of that is thanks to our ongoing community and live events. This allows us to support our members through different seasons of life and as their stories evolve.

It also means you don’t have to slap down a huge chunk of cash to take advantage of everything inside this membership. You can join for one quarter at a time, and leave whenever you need.

We offer a 14-day, no-questions-asked guarantee to all members of the Forge.

If you enter the program and realize it isn’t a good fit for you within two weeks of joining, reach out to the admin team through the support form at the bottom of every page. Let us know what’s going on and we’ll refund your membership, no problem at all.

Though most of our events are based on Eastern Time (EST/EDT), we try to schedule them so as many members can join as possible. For those who can’t make it live, you’ll find a replay posted in our Community Archives within 24 hours, alongside timestamps and any resources from the call.

Of course, there’s a lot beyond these live events too!

The Forge is here to move at your pace, so most of our resources (the course, masterclasses, and community) are all asynchronous. You can dive in whenever fits your schedule and make serious progress on your novel—even if you never attend a live call.

Unlike most online courses, we won’t drop a stack of videos on you and make you figure out the rest. Instead, the Forge blends traditional lessons with community, editorial support, and live events, so you can get the accountability and feedback you need to actually finish what you’ve started.

No. Though I’d love to offer a detailed analysis of every member’s manuscript, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. I need to sleep at least occasionally. Again, no caffeine here!

Instead, I offer support and feedback through our regular editor office hours, critique events, and retreats—so you can get the guidance you need to complete your novel, when you need it most.

For as long as you remain a member! Because the Forge is an ongoing membership, you can stay for as long or as little as you’d like—or even jump back in after a short hiatus, if that’s where life takes you.

Shoot us an email at support (at) thenovelsmithy.com and ask away! We typically respond within one business day.

I know what you’re thinking.

“I Want to Write… But I Don’t Have Time.”

Time is the biggest barrier between us and our dreams—more than money, more than skill, and more than motivation. It takes time to learn and practice, but it also takes time to rest, recharge, fill our creative wells, problem-solve, and let our stories unfold.

That’s the why the Forge is a resource, not a to-do list.

This entire membership is self-paced, so you can come and go as you need, depending on your schedule. If you have three hours a day to write, that’s fantastic! But if you only have thirty minutes each week, that’s ok too.

The only requirement is that you’re willing to dedicate the time you do have, even if it’s small. We’ll be here to help you make the most of it, so you spend less of it scrolling through Pinterest waiting for your muse, and more of it making your novel a reality.

As great as our muses are, sometimes they need a little encouragement.

And even when life seems busy, most of us have more time
for our dreams
than we think.

You Have All the Pieces You Need...

Now it’s time to put them together.

If you’ve made it this far, I feel pretty safe saying you’re here because you truly care about your story—and you’re ready to get unstuck.

A year from now, you’ll look back on this time with pride. Without it, you’d never set your finished novel on your bookshelf, or share your amazing new cover with a friend, or get teary-eyed over a lovely reader review.

Before any of that can happen though, you need to find your feet.

If you choose to walk this journey with me, I can’t wait to guide you as you discover a writing process that speaks to you. You have some exciting breakthroughs in your future!

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