Sean Cranbury is the host and curator of the SiWC Unconference, a self-organized ‘conference within the conference’ where attendees take control of the conversation about the craft of writing, publishing, and the life of an author in these turbulent times! The Unconference is an opportunity for attending writers to generate and participate in exciting conversations about writing and the process of turning their ideas into the project of their dreams – whether that’s a book, a movie, or something else altogether. It is a participant-driven discussion of ideas and concerns about the writing process. Writers’ ideas and voices lead a wide variety of discussions and debates about all elements of the industry, from craft to publication and beyond. Join us for an introduction to the world of the SiWC Unconference! The Unconference is sponsored by Stormcrow Alehouse.
Join Outlander’s Àdhamh Ó Broin as he discusses the processes that went into translating and teaching the Gaelic language for its biggest on-screen outing yet. Learn about the color and idiom of the language as it appears in the first season of the show and about how Àdhamh went about making sure that the Highland mindset and naturally-occurring poetry of the Gaelic language shone through despite the challenging timescales of a big-budget production.
You’ve finished a draft of your MS. Now what? Join agent Kari Sutherland for tips on how to self-edit and get your project ready and where to go from there: from beta readers to agent querying to the publishing process.
Deciding to self-publish your book is only the first of many decisions you’ll have to make. In this class, join USA Today Best Selling Author Elena Aitken and explore some of self-publishing strategies and best practices including: making the decision, what you can do on your own vs. outsourcing, what’s your budget? how much will it cost?, covers, editors, formatting, launch strategies, newsletters, branding, reader/fan groups, cross author promos, physical books, audios, translations, series vs. stand alone, release schedules and more.
Mindful and intentional goal setting, tracking, and revision are necessary for most of us—but especially for writers. Regardless of your writing genre, learning to craft and use bullet journals and vision boards as tools to help stay focused on writing projects is a fun, relaxing, and effective way to keep yourself aligned with your ultimate purpose—to finish your book! This engaging and interactive workshop will include preliminary theory on organization for writing, followed by instruction on how to create beautiful bullet journals and vision boards to help keep you aligned with your writing goals. Each workshop attendee will create both a bullet journal and a vision board, which will help to prepare for the weekend’s conference. Attendees must bring their own journals (any shape or size is fine); the rest of the workshop supplies will be provided.
In this hands on masterclass, you’ll build yourself a basic author website with an integrated blog! This workshop will blend strategy and action as you learn the difference between free and paid options for wordpress, and decide what is a good fit for you. You’ll be guided through the process of creating the sections on your site, including menus and the pages they link to, and you’ll upload content to those pages. By the time you leave this workshop you’ll have a functional author website, and be familiar with how to update and add content yourself. You will receive a small preparation assignment to get you ready for the workshop, and will need to bring a laptop to the workshop itself. This master class is limited to twelve participants.
Want to get even more out of Scrivener (Mac or Windows)? Or maybe you just want to know what makes this writing software so popular? The author of Scrivener For Dummies will walk you through the basics and cover some of her favorite tips and features, plus show you how to compile (export) your manuscript to a document or e-book. *Feel free to bring your laptop, loaded with Scrivener, so you can follow along. To get the free trial, go to www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.php.* Topics: Creating and understanding projects and templates Getting familiar with the Scrivener interface Working with files and importing Tagging and color coding your scenes/chapters Writing in split screen and full screen composition (distraction-free) modes Formatting tips Tracking your progress Using the Corkboard and Outliner Compiling (exporting) to DOC, RTF, EPUB, and MOBI And more if time permits
Fairy tales are not the only fiction that sweeps us away. All novels can cast spells, enchant, enthrall and move us with the force of human truths, hope, and heroes and heroines who attain mythic stature. A hands-on workshop taught by veteran fiction instructor and literary agent Donald Maass.
A strong, compelling synopsis serves as a vital sales tool at every stage of your career. Whether you are a new writer starting to submit to agents or a multi-published author proposing a project to your editor, you need to be able to write a synopsis that meets your needs. That means not only writing an interesting synopsis that shows off your project to its best advantage, but tailoring it to suit different purposes. Yet many writers find writing a synopsis a daunting prospect. Join Nephele Tempest in her master class to learn how to tackle writing the synopsis that will help you sell your novel. Find out how to break down the task into manageable parts, emphasize the most important components of your story, build interest in your manuscript while remaining concise, and convey a tone that’s consistent with your project. You’ll also learn how to adapt the length of your synopsis depending on its intended use, and how the process differs when your book has yet to be completed.
*** Limited to 12 attendees *** In this extremely popular class, Jack Whyte helps attendees identify the problems in their most troublesome pages and work on how to fix them. Struggling with an opening that just doesn’t work? Can’t figure out why that transition brings everything to a grinding halt? Know something’s not quite right, but have no idea what it is? This class is for you. In this interactive, discussion-based class, students share a few pages of their manuscript for group and instructor feedback. Learn not only from responses to your own work, but from the strengths and weaknesses of your fellow students’ pages, too. This class traditionally sells out very quickly, with 2016 selling out in a record 6 minutes, so get that mouse-clicking finger ready for noon on June 7 if you want a spot.
Write a novel – from first inspiration to final edit – then submission! Have you got a book in you? Have you always wanted to get it out into the world but lacked the confidence? Then join award-winning, bestselling author Chris (C. C.) Humphreys, for an intensive writing workshop that will help you banish the critic, release your creativity, and introduce you to the secrets of novel construction, character development and sheer storytelling fun. With plenty of exercises to get the fingers and brain moving, and a step by step analysis of what makes a successful, exciting piece of fiction, participants will leave the workshop with the beginnings of a novel and a road map to help you finish it. Or if you have a piece that has sat in a drawer for years, Chris will show you how to regain your faith in it, and take it to the next level – maybe even all the way to publication. Subjects will include the separate stages of writing – from first idea to final edit; how to create great characters; plotting; editing; dialogue; the synopsis, the pitch. Come for fun and hard work: it’s time the […]
Join bestselling author kc dyer for an intensive class specially designed for beginning writers. You’ll get an inside look at the jargon and best practices for getting your work into the publishing world: from agents to editors; from queries to non-fiction book proposals; from traditional to self-publishing. Learn the right questions to ask, and get them answered in this comprehensive overview of the world of books. Be prepared for writer’s cramp!
You can’t have a great book without great dialogue. Join multi-bestselling author and longtime SiWC presenter Diana Gabaldon for a look at what works – and doesn’t – in dialogue and how to make the most of this essential aspect of any novel. Examples for discussion will be drawn from multiple sources by a variety of authors.
“This is too trope-y” or “too cliché” are criticisms we hear a lot in genre fiction and beyond. But at the same time, not understanding the history of a genre or the expectations of a category means no one is going to connect with your work. How do you balance the expectations of your reader with the need to tell a distinct and novel story? I’ll talk about examples from YA, Science Fiction, and Fantasy books and films. Bring examples of what was too much trope for you!
You’ve written the story; now it’s time to make it sparkle. In this workshop, learn how to take that finished draft and turn it into a masterpiece.
To write your best poem you must be able to switch identities, take turns as editor and poet to become the artist who can take credit for the final version of the poem. In this work shop you will learn to craft the poem until it presents its best self to you. We will edit out lines or switch them out, find rhyme and rhythm or spaces where prose and poetry meet.
Creative non-fiction instructor and memoirist JJ Lee walks you through his system of analysing problematic stories, called “The Structure”. Built on his experiences as a documentarian, network journalist, sketch comedy performer, live storyteller, award-winning essayist, and critically-acclaimed author, “The Structure” can help writers identify the critical elements found in compelling, well-told stories. This workshop helps writers of both fiction and nonfiction uncover which elements may be missing from their own works-in-progress. The session is ideal for new writers and writers struggling with difficult drafts.
It can feel like a trap. If there’s no marginalized representation in your book, you’ll be criticized for it. If you write diverse characters, you’re accused of appropriation. “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t” is what I hear all the time. So, how do you navigate the difference? How do you write outside your own experience? What’s the difference between diversity and appropriation? This talk will cover the core concepts around how to move away from telling stories that reinforce existing biases and discuss the critical difference between “diversifying” and “decolonizing” your fiction.
Most of us have experienced the sensation of wanting to throw a book across a room because something the author said knocked us out of the story. Theses gaffes can be subtle or glaring, but either way, they interfere with our suspension of disbelief and can completely ruin a book for us. For this workshop, Jack invites you to bring examples (up to one page) of troublesome bits for discussion, whether they’re things you’re struggling with getting right in your own work or examples of things that have bothered you in published books.
The conference is ending, and your full of fresh new ideas, new friends and inspired for the writing ahead. So Now What? Look at how to take everything you’ve heard and learned and put together your own post conference plan, to put all these lessons into action and make a new and lasting commitment to your writing. Get tips for submitting requested work and look at how to continue your writing into the months to come. The conference doesn’t have to end on Sunday. With the right advice, strengthening your writing community, and some thoughtful planning, Surrey will continue motivating and inspiring you for the next twelve months.
The backstory wound is critical to the story, as not only does it shape the character’s personality, whatever he fears most will keep him from achieving his goal until he can face the past and move beyond his emotional trauma. Learn how to brainstorm a character’s emotional wound by looking at how they form, and the different types of categories of wounds that are most common (misplaced trust, betrayals, injustices, childhood wounds, victimization, traumatic events, disabilities, etc.).
Creating a Business Plan for Your Career as a Writer If you’re ready to make the move from writing strictly for fun for writing as your business- then you need a plan. You’ll need to consider your brand and your personal strategy. A business plan that helps guide your steps and allows you to track your progress. This workshop is designed to outline the areas you will want to consider from setting creative goals, to scheduling, to hiring outside help, to promotion- while balancing your budget and time. Participants will leave the session with the start of a customized business plan that works for them.
Learn how to employ time-tested techniques of best-selling authors to improve your novel writing. This workshop will focus on catching and holding the reader’s attention in the first three pages, as well as how to improve your dialogue, point of view and avoid common mistakes – the seven deadly sins that can get a manuscript rejected, as well as how to create and sustain tension, the key to keeping readers turning the page.
We will jump start the writing process through a theatre exercise from the Theatre of the Oppressed canon, designed to push you beyond your safety zone and provide access to your deepest, often untold stories. We will focus on theme and counter-theme, characters’ objectives and super-objectives, and ways to bring your monologue alive, such as using the present tense, and having your character solve a problem. The monologue may be part of a larger play, or the beginnings of a one-person show.
From fountain pens to computer software, writers through the ages have used all kinds of hacks to bring their stories to life. Join bestselling author kc dyer for a look at the writing hacks she employs, and learn how they can help you get your words on the page. Everything from notebooks to timelines, mind-maps to Scrivener tips — even Yahtzee! Bring your own hacks to share.
Juliet Blackwell leads this workshop-style session with writing exercises. You’ll explore how to deal with the myriad obstacles to sitting down and getting your work done, including motivation, frenemies, focus, and priorities.
We all deal with overstuffed email inboxes and information overload. Not getting lost in the noise means creating relatable newsletters that readers open, read and click. Steena Holmes teaches you how. Learn her newsletter secrets including how to create it and forget it with auto-pilot newsletters that work.
Writing is hard, but belief in ourselves is even harder. On good days, we write like the wind. On the bad days, we crawl through just to get a paragraph. And then there are the really bad days when we think about quitting all together. Here are ten tips from one fellow traveler to another to keep you from going to the Dark Side.
From idea generation to final draft, writing a novel consists of many stages, and every writer has their own approach to the process. Hang out with Elizabeth Boyle, Susanna Kearsley, and Mary Robinette Kowal, and learn how they each come up with their ideas, create characters, delve into research, and sit down to get those drafts written. Their methods may inspire you to try something new, but they will also prove that there is no one way to write a book.
Have you ever read something that made you stop and wonder: how did the author DO that? From vivid descriptions to moments that make us cry, this workshop looks at scenes by published authors to explore just HOW they create impact in readers.
Using Positive & Negative Charges to ELECTRIFY Your Writing. Have you ever had this experience? Someone you know is watching some terrible movie, and you KNOW its terrible because you hate THAT kind of movie, but as you linger… you find yourself slowly drawn in? You don’t even like this kind of movie, but you have to admit, THIS one is kinda interesting! You’re getting drawn in despite yourself. Likely what is happening is that moment by moment, the story, scene, or beats are TURNING, TWITCHING, REVERSING. Learn what this important technique means. How to recognize it. How to master it. Is your scene, short short story, book chapter dead? Discover the secret to bringing it back to life.
Can’t find that amazing idea in your pile of sticky notes? Distracted by blog posts, social media, and email? Looking for an easy way to write on the go? This class will introduce handy—and often free or inexpensive—tools to help you eliminate distractions, track your progress, organize your research, capture new ideas anywhere, streamline your writing process, and safeguard your hard work.
Writing across genres means writing in more than one arena—poetry, short fiction, memoir, essay, non-fiction or cross-genre within a piece. What makes a piece one genre or the other? Are there conventions that can be carried from one genre to the others to create new cross-genre pieces? What are the implications to your Canlit career of crossing genres? Using a single writing prompt, we’ll explore how to cross genres. Bring your questions!
Poetry and prose are often understood as opposites, to the point where poetry turning up in fiction is seen as intrusive, while narrative poetry is often dismissed as incapable of seriousness. In this workshop we’ll approach poetry and prose as related modes with different emphases, and explore how drawing on poetry can help unlock or overcome problems in our fiction writing.
Those first sentences are the most important part of any story (especially for younger readers). They draw the reader into your world. How do you make it so the reader doesn’t dare put your story down? Arthur Slade will share tips on how to create a dynamite beginning to your story and even more tips on how to keep the reader reading right to the very end.
Crafting a delicious plot full of twists, turns, and secrets isn’t easy, but the emotional payoff can be huge. In this workshop we’ll look at how to create plot twists, reveals, secrets, and reversals. We’ll discuss the most effective timing for major plot twists in your story, and we’ll examine story techniques such as misdirection, unreliable narrators, red herrings, and multiple points of view. Finally, we’ll talk about how to lay the groundwork for your plot surprises through the fine art of foreshadowing.
Every novel has its bad guys, but what makes a real villain stand out from the crowd? With Michael Slade moderating, our panel explore the motives, malice, and machinations of the characters everyone loves to hate.
Are you ready to step into the world of indie publishing? Join our panel as they share their successes, struggles, and the lessons they learned on the way.
Bring your work to read aloud and enjoy a sampling of first paragraphs written by your fellow SiWC attendees. You are welcome to attend just to listen.
Share your work in front of a live audience, or come and enjoy some poetry by your fellow SiWC attendees.
Sean Cranbury is the host and curator of the SiWC Unconference, a self-organized ‘conference within the conference’ where attendees take control of the conversation about the craft of writing, publishing, and the life of an author in these turbulent times! The Unconference is an opportunity for attending writers to generate and participate in exciting conversations about writing and the process of turning their ideas into the project of their dreams – whether that’s a book, a movie, or something else altogether. It is a participant-driven discussion of ideas and concerns about the writing process. Writers’ ideas and voices lead a wide variety of discussions and debates about all elements of the industry, from craft to publication and beyond. Join us! The Unconference is sponsored by Stormcrow Alehouse.
Many submissions to publishers and agents go unanswered and probably many unread. Some writers even collect rejection letters (or e-mails more likely) and use the increasing number as motivation to find a home for their work. That keeps them going. But sometimes a change in tactics can mean a much different reply to their work. There are good and bad rejections. How do you know if the publishers, editor, or agent is leaving an opening, however slight, for you? What should you do to respond? And if you getting no feedback whatsoever – what are you doing wrong? This workshop gives you tips and strategies of how to approach the gatekeepers in the publishing world. We will look at the right and wrong for sending out queries, what makes an effective pitch? what do successful proposals look like? does it ever make sense to call editors or agents? One variation in your method could make the difference between rejection and acceptance.
This workshop illustrates chemistry in the context of both story development and character arc. It also makes clear what chemistry isn’t and highlights mistakes that writers commonly make when trying to generate chemistry. The second half of the workshop focuses on the specifics of creating and deepening chemistry, from big-scope tools—what kind of character pairing leads to greater chemistry—to paragraph-level detailing for enhancing the hero and heroine’s awareness of each other.
In this workshop you’ll learn how to write an effective nonfiction book proposal, including the basic structure of a good proposal and tips to make each section compelling, such as choosing effective comp titles, presenting your platform to best advantage, and writing engaging chapter summaries. You’ll leave this workshop excited and equipped to write an irresistible proposal.
There are a lot of theories out there about how to handle pacing for novels, but how do you do it when you’re constrained by length? It turns out that many of the same rules-of-thumb apply, but in a proportionally smaller space they look very different. Learn how to structure your beginnings, ends, and of course, those pesky middles.
After the initial idea has developed into a potential story the first question the author asks is “Whose story is this?” The next question is “How do I tell it?” Point of view is one of the most important decisions we make in the telling of our stories and one that can most change the audiences reaction to our story. World War II through the eyes of a bomb victim, a Jew, a German soldier will come across as a completely different event. In this workshop we will experiment with different points of view and find the right one for you. Rhys has used first person, third and multiple POVs in her own books.
Sometimes brutal, always thrilling, the SiWC tradition is back! Our panel of agents will weigh in on your first pages, read aloud by the inimitable Jack Whyte. Get ready to take notes as they share what hooks them, what makes them stop reading, and what exactly goes through their heads as they read your submissions. First page submissions will be selected at random from those handed in at the beginning of the session in Tynehead 1. Submissions will not be returned, but will be recycled or, if you’re one of the chosen few, handed over to the agent who asks to see it.
Before you try your hand at middle-grade novels, learn some essentials to writing a good one. There’s more to it than age-appropriate vocabulary and avoiding certain topics. But what? Come and find out as we discuss approaches and to writing middle-grade characters stories, as well as some of the peculiarities of the category.
What is the structure of a narrative, its form, but a way of arranging and rearranging time – of deciding what to divulge when? And is it possible to talk about structure without talking about beginnings — where you begin in time and space in the story and what bearing that has on the overall effect? Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop, said the King to the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. But it’s not so simple is it? This workshop will include a writing exercise or two to illuminate the different ways a single narrative can move through time, including ways of varying pacing and momentum. There will be diagrams!
In the middle of your manuscript, have an idea how it should finish, but can’t get from point A to C with a boring B? Ideas and techniques for making your mid-novel as exciting as the rest of it.
Writing the human experience is what crafting fiction is all about. Joy, despair, metamorphosis, hate, and love are integral parts of every story, as is physicality and sex. Intimate scenes that explore the body are some of the hardest to write; they can embarrass writers and fill them with anxiety. In this workshop, participants will learn how to develop and structure a love scene, and how these scenes can add essential depth to character and narrative. Through lecture, exercises and group discussion, participants will work toward writing the physical bodies of their characters and using those bodies to emphasize theme, style, and emotion.
Fighting, in its various forms, from the duel to the slap, is almost as essential a feature in today’s novels as lovemaking. But how do you get it right when you don’t know one end of a rapier from the other? (Warning: the pointy bit hurts!) In this hands-on, blades-drawn workshop, fight choreographer, actor and novelist C.C. (Chris) Humphreys will take you through the dangerous art of fight writing. Unashamedly admitting that he got into acting so he could ‘leap around with bladed weaponry’, Chris has fought with a variety of weapons including net and trident in a colliseum in the Roman epic “A.D.” and a broadsword as an immortal in “Highlander”, while in his novels he has handled muskets at Saratoga, battle axes at Hastings and lances on the plains of Wallachia. So he will demonstrate how to turn research, from walking the battlefields to wielding the weapons, into pages of exciting storytelling. Yet the technical aspects are only one part of it; in any novel it is the character’s development that most intrigues. How a character fights can reveal as much about them as how they make love. A chance to delve into the dark side, perhaps? To […]
An internationally bestselling author and her US editor open a discussion of how to have the best possible relationship with your editor. You’ll learn how to make it work, how to make it last, and how to manage any difficulties you encounter. Bring your questions and concerns, and we guarantee you insights and solutions.
Setting can be an overlooked tool in a writer’s toolkit. This workshop will show how setting can be used to increase conflict, show tone/theme, and clarify characters. Practical examples and prompts will be provided to encourage writers to put the techniques to work in their own manuscripts.
We will jump start the writing process through a theatre exercise from the Theatre of the Oppressed canon, designed to push you beyond your safety zone and provide access to your deepest, often untold stories. We will focus on theme and counter-theme, characters’ objectives and super-objectives, structure, and plot. We will discuss the difference between writing memoir for personal catharsis as opposed to universal experience, and how to choose the content for your memoir once you know your theme and your character’s super-objective.
In fiction, a solid, engaging voice is the hardest thing to nail down. The reason why a book’s voice might fail is very often linked to one issue: a lack of connectivity between a character and the space they occupy (both their body and the world around them). The good news is that there’s a fairly simple solution to this problem: deepening POV. This class will focus on some simple self-editing techniques you can use to deepen your book’s POV without rewriting entire chapters.
How do you translate an adult sensibility into books for kids and teens? Moderated by kc dyer, authors Arthur Slade, Robyn Harding, CC Humphreys and Eileen Cook discuss getting in touch with their inner youth, and how to build bestselling stories for younger readers.
Plot moves along the outward events of novels, but a sense of dynamic movement also comes from less visible factors. This hands-on workshop by veteran fiction instructor and literary agent Donald Maass reveals the hidden ways of pacing story, such as by revelation, emotional shifts, moral unfolding and manipulation of reader expectations.
While dialogue is the core of most screenplays and theatre scripts, good dialogue will also enhance any work of fiction. The teaching focus of this workshop will be the use of dialogue to reveal character and as a tool to advance the plot and action. Through discussion and using writing exercises, Chris will take you through the process of creating effective dialogue that serves several purposes – entertaining the reader while simultaneously advancing the plot and developing the characters. He will also explore period ‘feel’, how to write without anachronism while not straying into the Monty Python world of parody and ‘olde worlde’ talk.
All writers turn real people into characters, real incidents into plots, and real places into settings. Come learn the research dos and don’ts of sailing close to the wind from a lawyer-turned-crime-writer.
Beginners and experienced users will benefit from this introduction to Scrivener’s basic features. Learn how to create a new project, understand Scrivener’s interface, organize and work with files and folders, import your existing work and research, color code your files, set word count targets, and more. *Feel free to bring your laptop, loaded with Scrivener, so you can follow along. To get the free trial, go to www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.php.*
Have you ever wondered why humans are so hard-wired to share our selves, our experiences and our learning through story? Curious about what happens in YOUR brain when you work at the process of writing and creating? The crafting of story, for so many of us, may be a passion laden with joy (Yay! I wrote today!), frustration (I sat down and just couldn’t do it), and/or the convenient stick we can beat ourselves with (I may as well give this writing thing up. I committed to five chapters by the end of this week and I’ve got…nothing.). In this session, we will not only look at what makes you a natural story-telling being, but challenge your road-blocks and the negative self talk that gets in the way of your very best and most passionate work. You are here. You are a writer. You can do this! For blue pencil, Kim will meet with anyone who wants help setting writing goals or otherwise getting out of their own way to get words on paper.
When Rhys Bowen writes a historical novel, her aim is not to show readers how it was in a particular place and time but to take them there and let them experience it for themselves. This workshop will discuss research and making it real as well as the challenges of making characters true to their place and time while keeping them identifiable to the reader.
Learn how to build your scenes into a seamlessly connected story by dealing with the passage of time, getting your characters from one place to another, moving from one narrator to the next, and tackling all the troublesome transitions in between.
Join Arthur Slade as he discusses how to mix fantasy or horror elements into novels that have an otherwise realistic setting. How much do you put in? At what point will the reader have enough grounding to “believe” the fantasy? The discussion will touch on high fantasy, dark fantasy, steampunk, and the quirky world of surrealistic fantasy.
Amal’s first collection of fiction and poetry was written to the taste, scent and sight of twenty-eight different kinds of honey. While this workshop unfortunately can’t reproduce that situation, we’ll explore how spontaneous writing from the senses can interact fruitfully with other elements of the fiction-writing toolkit, with exercises drawn from touching, smelling, and tasting interesting things. *Attendees with allergies: please note that there will be honey and pine branches in the room.*
Whether you are just starting out, have been writing by the seat of your pants, or are looking to put a more zing into that romantic thread in your latest novel, come learn how to plot and plan a romance story line. Elizabeth will examine how every part of your story: theme, setting, characters, plot and conflict can intertwined to heighten the romantic adventure. You’ll leave having plotted your romance and with writing tips aplenty to keep the romance alive from page one to that perfect happy ever after.
Come learn the tricks of the trade from a criminal-lawyer-turned-crime-writer to add “page-turner” and “I couldn’t put it down” to gripping mystery, thriller, and horror novels.
Stop talking and start writing. In this class, we’ll explore how you can start prioritizing your work no matter what life throws at you. We’ll discuss strategies to make yourself accountable and how to put a team in place to help you (writing doesn’t have to be a solo act). Set a productivity goal and stick to it! And of course, how to get back on track when life happens, because it always does!
Where do poems come from? How do poems emerge from an idea into a lovely, mad, angry, sweet, political or saucy collection of words? What makes a poem a poem? Bring your inspired ideas, your phrases, single words, manifestos, dreams and together we will sculpt out a space from which you can create your own poem. We will also create a community poem together.
Now you’re finished. Or are you? Once you ve finished that manuscript how do you make it better? What are the common mistakes novelists make and how do you fix them before an agent or editor sees them? Learn Bob s systematic approach to power editing your manuscript including – Making an objective assessment of your novel’s beginning, middle, and end. – Evaluating each scene. – Making judgments about your protagonist and antagonist. – Evaluating secondary characters. – Tightening the manuscript by being relentless in moving the story forward. – Reviewing word and sentence choice – adjectives and adverbs vs. verbs, original similes and analogies; active vs. passive voice. – Polishing your work to eliminate typos and misspellings, and other mistakes that make the reader lose trust.
In this workshop, we look at tools to help you figure out where a story has gone wrong, and likely angles of attack to fix the problems. Plot structure, beta readers, and the dreaded writer’s block can all help narrow down the weakness in a story and ultimately fix it.
The word subtext is often heard nowadays. But what does it mean to a writer? How do you use it to create a layered narrative and nuanced interactions between your characters? In this workshop, we’ll break down this mysterious catch-all word for subtlety into concrete techniques you can apply to your own writing, from the dynamics of dialogue to the creation and expression of themes and motifs.
Do you dream of writing a book, but life keeps getting in the way? Maybe you’re putting off writing because you’re too busy. Are you waiting for that imaginary “someday” when you’ll have more time? Well, someday is today. It is possible to have a busy, full life and still find the time to write—and you don’t have to quit your job or sell your children to do it. In this workshop, Kim Foster (author, doctor, and mom) will discuss strategies and solutions to help you carve out the time to write.
A New Theory of Charisma. The Godfather, Darth Vader, Scarlett O’Hara What do they all have in common? They are unforgettable. Long after we left the movie theatre, these remained with us, haunted us. What makes someone fascinating? Contradiction. We will start unpacking this new theory of charisma, starting with the character you know best. YOU.
Writing for the screen and writing for the page are unique but complimentary skill sets. Author and screenwriter, Robyn Harding, will take you through the pros and cons of writing in each media, and introduce screenwriting techniques that will make your novel fast-paced and cinematic. Learn about story structure, multiple character POVs, pacing, and writing without adverbs. If you are curious about screenwriting or would like to apply the craft to your prose, this workshop is for you.
Sandy Garossino is a former trial lawyer and National Observer columnist who reaches over a million readers a month, mainly through her active use of social media. But those numbers don’t matter, because numbers aren’t the same as influence. Garossino examines how to purposefully use writing and social media as a means to make change.
Don’t have an unlimited travel budget or weeks of vacation time to spend doing on-location research? Learn how to travel efficiently, getting the details you need when you haven’t got more than a few days–or even a few hours–to get them.
Want to try outlining but don’t know where to begin? In this workshop, learn how to take your story from first inspiration to a completed roadmap that will guide you on your way.
Are you a little worried about your…first time? Not sure of the right moves or which part goes where? Join authors Meg Tilly and kc dyer for the inside scoop on the hot and heavy experience of losing your self-publishing virginity.
Many writers think of setting as a “stage” for events to unfold, and so often don’t take advantage of the full power it has over story. Because writers so often underutilize the setting I show them why picking the right location allows you to use it to characterize the story’s cast, deliver important backstory actively, reveal fears and desires, supply tension and conflict, steer emotion, evoke mood, and more.
Start your Saturday with a little sizzle. From meet cute to happily-ever-after, join our panel for a look at the pleasures and challenges of writing romance.
Novels that are page turners unfurl in accelerating waves of establishing narrative, building to suspense, building to action, resolving reflection, and then thrusting forward to the next wave. In this workshop we’ll dissect how to write each element of this “ISAR” wave, and how to construct plot in which each scene ends with a hook that grabs the reader and moves the story forward.
Are you a published author heading out into the world of readings and performance, or planning to be? This workshop is for you. If you’ve been to many readings, you know that a lot of authors do their work a real disservice when they read at aloud because of a lack of training and experience. Award-winning writer and actress Meg Tilly/Sara Flynn can help! Bring a short reading, and Meg will help guide as many of you as time allows to making the most of reading your work aloud. Supportive listeners are also welcome to attend and learn.
Writing for television is about as far from solitary novel writing as one can get. A room full of people brainstorming, outlining, debating and arguing every detail and act break. So, how can you bring a little of the Writers’ Room into your novel writing? From pre-writing outlines to structure tips all the way to a more seamless execution, Liza Palmer shows how what she learned in a Writers’ Room helped her break up that long solitary road to finishing a novel.
Join author Steena Holmes to learn her 5 key steps in creating a brand that works and how to use your brand to reach readers.
These essential building blocks of great prose fiction and non-fiction are often overlooked in the quest for plot, theme, character, structure etc. Forget your Strunk and White – great sentences break the rules and rewrite the rulebook. In this hands-on workshop you’ll learn about various kinds of sentences (a couple of which you may not even know existed) using examples from classic and contemporary greats. You’ll get a chance to write your own marvelous short, medium and long versions of sentences by everyone from the pithy Jane Austen to the elegant Henry James, from the tricksy Milton to the incantatory Martin Luther King Jr., as well as Updike, Woolf, Lewis Carroll, and the deceptively simple Hemingway and Munro.
Storytellers need data too! There’s no doubt that data can drive creativity, help you connect with your readers, and get you thinking about your writing and your market in new ways. Find out why what you think you know can get in your way, the importance of positioning and how to maximize a book’s success, and keys to understanding today’s marketplace. You’ll find new ways that data can help you expand your readership and magnify your impact.
Writing about activism is writing that promulgates a progressive view of our world and motors towards change. Is it possible to write social justice poetry or fiction, along with the more usual non-fiction and memoir? Is writing about social justice risky? What will happen to a writer’s career if they become associated with a cause or causes? What about lawsuits and trolls? We’ll spend the workshop engaged in a lively exploration, using social justice writing prompts, learning how to be an effective activist in Canlit. Bring your questions!
Exploring the idea of self-publishing for the first time can be overwhelming for authors. With so much information out there, how do you wade through it all and actually get started? In this introductory class, we will break it down into easy to manage baby steps, addressing topics such as i) Is Self-pub right for me? ii) How to make the decision. iii) Do you have to do it all? What can you outsource? What can you do on your own? iv) How much is it going to cost? What’s your budget? v) KU vs. Going Wide As well as…riding the self-publishing wave, navigating the successes and struggles along the way.
How do you bring an imaginary world to life? How do you layer the strange and fantastic on the real world in a believable way? Join our panel for a look at building cohesive, immersive worlds for characters to inhabit.
From that killer opening sentence to the perfect final line, writing a query letter is no easy feat. Join our panel of agents for a look at what really makes them say YES.
Most good stories require a memorable protagonist, but our favorite stories also depend on great sidekicks and villains and minor characters. In this session we’ll use examples from Avatar: The Last Airbender, Harry Potter, and the Star Wars saga to examine how these characters function and how they bring our worlds and stories to life.
Nervous about pitching your novel? Make this panel your first stop. With Donald Maass moderating, our panel of professional agents and editors show you the dos and don’ts of pitching your story.
This workshop looks at creating characters with conflicting goals, creating the tension that is essential to any compelling story. We’ll analyze the web of character in examples, then examine the participants’ works in progress through the lens of the character web.
Publishing—traditional and indie—is in constant flux. Things change overnight. Publishers of all shapes and sizes go under or get gobbled up by other publishers. Editors change houses or leave the business. Trends change lighting fast.So how can an author manage to navigate all that and carve a place for themselves in this reality? Lauren Dane will talk about her personal method in this workshop melding the business and craft of being an author.