How do you avoid the slow start, the saggy middle, the unsatisfying ending—and how do you rev up the speed at just the right moments, give just the right amount of pause for breath, and play with readers’ expectations in ways that both build suspense and provide a satisfying payoff? Jump into this session for Stant Litore’s exhilarating crash course on pacing in fiction.
6 Steps of Indie Publishing: Writing a great story is just a small part of what it takes to be a successful indie author. As an indie author you write, proof, edit, and format your masterpiece. There are covers, marketing, branding, promotions, and networking tasks to tackle. And then there is the intricacy of putting your work into the world. This workshop will go2 over several tools and tips to all of these and more for the aspiring author new to independent publishing, or interesting in learning new tools.
In this practical workshop, veteran television writer and screenwriter instructor Ines Johnson will guide novelists through a series of steps designed to take a manuscript from the written word to the visual world of the screen and teleplay. Using a number of books that have been adapted successfully, and some not so successfully, into movies and television series, Ines will show authors how to break their novels down to their story core of the word and logline, and translate their plot points into the beat sheet of the screen.
Most of us are hardcore introverts, BUT in today’s world having an online author presence is a must! Intimidated, freaked out and not sure where to start? Breathe easy, after this course you’ll feel like a pro.
Learn what it means to have an author persona and how to use it to your benefit. We’ll discuss what social media platforms you should be on, and what your posts schedules and content should look like. Learn how to create a website that looks good and costs little. And understand how to utilize each of the different platforms to your advantage like newsletters, Goodreads, Amazon author profiles, BookBub, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok to gain readers/followers, and connect with influencers.
By the end of this class, your Platform will be well built, you’ll know how to communicate and feel less stressed out stepping outside your comfort zone. BONUS – we’ll also discuss free software to help you schedule posts!
Rebels, librarians, pilgrims, tricksters, and kings. Great stories begin with great characters, and some of the most powerful ones are often based on timeless archetypes. We’ll explore the various types found in literature and film, and how writing to these archetypes will give your story additional zip, boom, and bam!
This workshop goes beyond the standard character profile and introduces innovative tools and techniques for building, enriching, and layering a character through the development of backstory. Attendees explore the process in interactive group exercises, taking a “page one character” and working backward through the character's historical timeline, while fleshing out the character's personality traits and issues. A key component of the process is focusing on the crucial topic of trauma, specifically how a character’s backstory trauma can be extrapolated into juicy character foibles and complicated plot conflicts.
Whether you have just started out on your writing journey or want to refresh your memory with the basics, this class is for you. In it, we will cover how to start writing, create characters, produce a plot, use scenes and sequels, and learn about the business of writing.
Your author bio can be a valuable tool for connecting with readers. Or it can bore them to death. Too much info, or the wrong info, and you may lose a potential reader of your work. But a good bio can spark the beginning of a great author-reader bond. This workshop provides an easy-to-use M-PACT system of “best practices” for creating an author bio. M-PACT prompts us to consider the desired Message of a bio, be Professional, be Appropriate for the audience/venue, practice Consistency, and edit until your bio is To the point for achieving your goals. This workshop provides straightforward “best practices” for the author bio, with guidelines anyone can follow to create a bio that works on every level. As a bonus, we’ll also cover the author photo and apply the M-PACT system to that as well.
Han Solo, Elizabeth Bennett, Atticus Finch, Hermione Granger… Great characters make or break a story. The purpose of this session is to understand methods of creating compelling, diverse, and realistic characters. You’ll come away with tips to strengthen weaker characters, and delve more deeply into the characters you already know.
Learn how to engage readers, heighten tension, and build interest by quickly and efficiently weaving three key story elements together on Page One. Build your setting while illustrating your character solving the plot! You can (and should) hit the ground running and hook your reader on the very first page.
Learn how to engage readers, heighten tension, and build interest by quickly and efficiently weaving three key story elements together on Page One. Build your setting while illustrating your character solving the plot! You can (and should) hit the ground running and hook your reader on the very first page.
What do business people know that writers don't? What can writers learn from them? Learn basic facets of project management, planning, and how to assess opportunities.
Do you want to sell your books at comic cons? Author Todd Fahnestock walks through his personal journey of attending five comic cons, including Denver Pop Culture Con, FanX (Salt Lake City), Santa Fe Comic Con and Albuquerque Comic Con. At this workshop, he shows you how to prepare for and set-up for success. He talks about having the right collateral materials, the most eye-grabbing presentation, and the best tools to build your reader base during and after, and he will set everything up right there in the room for you as though he’s at the Con.
Todd Fahnestock made thousands of dollars at his last three Cons. Come see how he did it.
Are you selling your books at comic cons? Local literary festivals? School events? This workshop walks you through how to successfully sell your books to readers passing by your table without being a “salesman”.
Author Todd Fahnestock tells about his first frightening, failed point-of-purchase sales opportunity, how he turned it around using the introvert's key to engage customers, and how you can, too.
From booth layout to collateral materials to the actual “sales pitch”, Fahnestock shows you how you can earn thousands of dollars at a point-of-purchase sales event.
It’s no longer enough to have a great book. You have to know how to get people excited about reading it—especially your first readers: agents and editors. More and more, agents and editors are looking for authors with a unique voice and expertise, in addition to a book with a great concept.
In this class we’ll talk about what to include in your query letter to make you and your story stand out so that you’re grabbing attention in all the right ways, while setting your own framework for the book’s success
Consciously or unconsciously meaning is hidden beneath signs and facades in literature, layered in word choice and focus. Through shared reading, discussion and meaning and themes, we will learn to consciously see what our subconscious feels within a text, those elements that unite and undercut, but always elevate craft into art. Once you understand deconstruction, your reading and your writing will never be the same.
Effective digital marketing allows you to promote yourself and projects like a pro. So how do you put them together to create a comprehensive, effective digital marketing plan?
This workshop will help you evaluate and combine your ideas to create a single, encompassing marketing plan. This plan will include priorities, resourcing and performance metrics. Attendees will leave with a customizable outline to put their plan in place to drive results.
Editing means more than fixing commas or hiring a professional. Before all of that, you are alone with your story. So, how do you improve it? There are plenty of guides for revising nonfiction, but what about fiction? This class will give you a plethora of practical tips on how anyone, regardless of experience, can improve their own work. From plot to character, scene structure to style, you’ll walk away feeling confident that you can make your story shine!
What do Middle-earth, Hogwarts, Panem, and Westeros have in common? They are fully realized civilizations or cultures. In this popular workshop, come discover the eight basic elements that make up all human societies, and how incorporate those elements into your own “brave new world” to give your story extra depth and richness.
Every working writer accumulates bits of writerly wisdom through the years: from editors, from workshops, from readers, from critiquers. Much is useful in the moment. Some strike a particularly resonant chord that carries through a series or a even a career. But sometimes you collect a gem that can take you to another level of insight and skill. Here are a few I have collected.
Going indie can mean self-publishing OR signing with a small independent publisher, and both come with a slew of avoidable mistakes that could break your heart and your bank account!We’ll touch on all the things you should know, what the different types of publishing can mean for you, what to expect and the checklists you can’t live without like contracts, cover design, formatting, how to find an editor, publishing platforms, disclaimers, LLCs, sales and marketing…If there’s a blunder to avoid, we’ll discuss it! After this class, when your book is ready to make its debut, you can release that bookish baby with the confidence and success of a seasoned pro!
Horror writers have many tools at their disposal to create stories that inspire visceral responses of terror and horror. We'll discuss those tools and how to get to the guts of the story to elicit the desired response.Though horror authors use many of the same tools as writers in other genres, they're often used in different ways. Very specific responses are hoped for from readers, and this workshop is intended to go over what to use and how to use it in order to make these stories work and hopefully leave them stuck in the reader's mind like a knife to the back.
In this workshop, Ines Johnson will show you how she became an overnight success … after five years of bumbling mistakes. You’ll learn the secrets, which are mostly comprised of what not to do, as she details her missteps and failures up the slippery ladder of success from three figure to six figure author.
Unless you’ve been in the basement playing video games, eating gummy bears and glazed donuts for the past several years, you may’ve noticed things have become a bit violent in our country. It seems you can’t swing a dead porcupine and miss a shooting with multiple victims. Scary. Some evolve into hostage situations, and there is no predicting where and when these may occur. A little bit of fundamental information as to the different types of situations and hostage-takers might help. We never know do we … ? But, trying to be a ‘hero’ may turn you into that porcupine…!!!
Suspense keeps your readers turning the pages of your story, anxious to learn…What Happens Next! Learn how to build tension and use the tools of mystery, horror, and suspense authors to transform your writing and increase your emotional impact. Make it impossible for your readers to put your book down!
Ready to up your marketing game with ads? Join USA TODAY Bestselling authors, Jennie Marts and Lana Williams as they show you step-by-step the basics of how to set up Facebook and Amazon ads along with tips and tricks to jump start your campaigns and increase your bottom line.
For 20 years or so, Benjamin studied the atmosphere and forecasted the weather. While he spent a vast majority of his time on the training side of the house, he was nevertheless embedded in all things weather. So when he (or anyone else versed in meteorology) reads a book or watches a movie, they're probably more aware of the weather than most people. This isn’t to say others aren’t observant–they are–but their observations will often tend to take them someplace else, someplace that doesn’t have to do with clouds or precipitation or whatever. Weather in writing creates an atmosphere that can make or break a scene. This workshop will help you write descriptions of the weather to enhance the mood of the setting (i.e., the atmosphere). Good descriptions are not asides; they are part of the whole. Is it cold? Is it hot? Do the clouds create a shadowed/muted scene? Does the rain/snow/hail relate to a feeling? Is there fear in a character that’s increased by a thunderstorm (thereby increasing the fear/nervousness/anxiety of the reader)? Through examples and a little crash course in how you can use something like a thunderstorm to walk your story through the exposition, conflict, rising action, climax and denouement, this workshop will hopefully not rain on your parade. Clouds aren’t likely to hang in the air like bricks, and there’s no such thing as a Category 7 hurricane.
“Does this sound familiar: racing from deadline to deadline, constantly putting out fires, pushing back delivery dates, and losing sleep worrying about all the work you have to do? It’s time to get organized. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be complicated. In this presentation/workshop identify the main reasons we all fall behind and various techniques to condense all our work into one place. Once we have the work, we’ll look at how you can estimate the level of effort, prioritize the tasks and put it all on a schedule. With everything in place, you can get back to your project confident that you’re not forgetting something without fear of those looming deadlines. And if the crunch happens anyway, you’ll be ready to handle it all. This workshop/presentation will discuss:
Goodreads is a social network created for readers and authors. It has millions of members and was designed to help people find their next book to read. In this workshop, USA TODAY Bestselling and award-winning author, Jennie Marts, breaks down this often-overlooked promotional site and offers tools and tips to use Goodreads to its full potential to gain new readers, increase your books visibility and boost your sales.
The Romance genre isn’t always the most respected, despite being one of the highest grossing in commercial fiction. Writing, and plotting a romance story can be more complex than most writers expect. Romances are complicated because they involve emotional interactions of two protagonists, as well as the growth of a relationship between them—not to mention an external plot. That’s a lot to juggle. Harlequin author Angel Smits walks you through the process and tools she uses to pull her plots together.
Over the last decade, the publishing industry has undergone tremendous evolution due to the growth of online retail and digital book formats, as well as the power of any author to publish and distribute their work at the click of a button. In this comprehensive master class, industry expert Jane Friedman discusses the most important service options available to independent authors, how to choose the best channels, formats, and distributors based on your target audience and genre, how to assess if you are well-suited to self-publishing, and what to expect when it comes to marketing your work. She’ll also help you decipher “hybrid” publishing arrangements now available alongside the key forms of self-publishing and e-publishing practiced today.
I became a full-time by taking advantage of a quick-release strategy in a popular genre where readers expected a new title monthly. That meant I had to learn how to write fast. In this class, we’ll talk about outlines, tricks on how to write five thousand words a day, and several tips for editing a novel in a week…before you start on the next book.
Most writers hate writing synopses, and no wonder. After you've agonized over several hundred pages to make your prose absolutely perfect, how could you possibly distill that down to a measly ten or twenty pages? Or, worse yet, one or two? By the time you've written the book, everything seems important, and it's difficult to know what to put in and what to leave out. Let Pam McCutcheon help you understand how to put one of these beasties together.
Sexual tension is the sensual dance, the push and pull, the “will they, won’t they” that drives the romance between a book’s main characters. Whether the heat level is sweet or scorching hot, sexual tension isn’t only important to the romance, but it also causes readers to become invested in the characters and their relationship. From the first time the main characters meet, the tension between them builds and doesn’t end until the closing of the book. Through this workshop, we will learn the Laws of Attraction when it comes to sexual tension. We’ll explore how setting, characterization, secondary characters and conflict influence the push and pull between the main characters, as well as learn alternate tools for writing and increasing tension.
This workshop goes over the types of research writers in different genres may need to have to make your books really pop, even if you're not writing historical or technical. World building can require research just as much as police procedurals. We'll discuss:
Many authors find writing those scenes—the love scenes—intimidating or frustrating to write. The fear or hesitation can originate from embarrassment and the “Oh no, I can’t write that!” voice inside their heads. Or the belief they cannot write a believable, passionate love scene. These scenes involve choreography, intense emotion and capturing the reader’s imagination with all the senses, which can be difficult to accomplish. Whether the bedroom door is closed, cracked or thrown wide open, love scenes are important not only to the story and romance, but also to the relationship between the hero and heroine, and most times the characters’ personal growth and arc. How our characters make love is as much a part of their characterization as their back story. The purpose of this program is to offer the author an alternate way of approaching love scenes that may make writing them more fun and a little easier.
There are dozens of methods for plotting, and just as many workshops and books on the topic. But what if you’re a not-plotter (i.e., a seat-of-the-pants writer, or pantser, for short)? You’re not alone. It’s simply harder—and probably less profitable—to teach people how to stumble around in the dark until they emerge with a finished manuscript. But I love a challenge, and I know the pain of thinking you’re lazy or doing it wrong, when really you’re just wired differently. So, if you’re a pantser, or think you might be, join this seasoned writer-without-a-plan for tips on figuring out what type of writer you are, why knowing matters, and how to make pantsing a manuscript less stressful.
Lately, it feels like we all want to do all the things. In the struggle between FOMO and Burnout, I have to be cautious about where I commit my time. So… how do I decide. In this workshop, by author success systems expert, Becca Syme, you'll learn about how to make good choices when it comes to author marketing. Afraid what you're doing is not making a difference? This is the workshop for you.
It’s been a popular workshop, even for published writers who have not considered writing outside their novels but now find their earnings going down/expenses going up due to a variety of changes in the business model. Writers will leave the workshop with a gameplan that keeps them from having to spend a lot of time coming up with ideas themselves. The class includes info on:
In this interactive session, we'll focus on techniques writers use to make sci-fi and fantasy writing engaging and believable. Practical tips will be given for avoiding common pitfalls, developing fictional worlds, and getting readers to accept incredible events. We’ll discuss fantasy/sci-fi ideas, writing and publication strategies, and explore why The Exorcist was popular in 1973, The Matrix in 1999, and The Hunger Games in 2014.
Making a cool magic system isn’t enough. For your magic to matter to your readers, it must first matter to your story. This presentation will teach where and how to connect magic with the story—including plot, characters, setting, and theme—and end with a group exercise to practice the concepts. Attendees will leave the session with tested methods to overcome this common magic-with-story struggle.
This session covers:
Finishing a full-length work is exhausting. Writers may find it difficult to sit back and take a bird’s-eye view, editing the manuscript for story and structure, character and plot, theme and pace. Frequently, the focus is on small-scale revisions (let’s make this sentence sound better or fix the commas here)—and the story suffers.
In this interactive session we’ll explore book mapping, a valuable tool for developmental editing of longer narratives and for assisting authors with revisions. Book mapping breaks down the manuscript into its components chapter by chapter or scene by scene, revealing what’s working and what’s not. From there writers can create their own revisions plan and feel confident about the direction.
Have you ever wondered what goes on in a morgue? What one can find out, and can’t? How did House solve all those mysteries? And would any medical system tolerate his behaviors? (That one is easy- NO- any medical staff group would have asked him to leave. If he had chosen not to do so, they would have revoked his privileges to practice at their institution). Did you know that Sherlock Holmes was modeled after a physician, and written by a physician? (Joseph Bell, who was the surgical instructor for Dr Arthur Conan Doyle)
Two physicians, both veterans of PPWC, bring over 50 years of experience in the trenches- one traveling through a maze within an ivory tower, the other living in the morgue- and have published over 300 scientific papers and performed over 100 autopsies. They will demystify the morgue (or perhaps make it even more mysterious) and provide glimpses in med tech that rival Bones’ tricorder (which, incidentally, exists as a prototype). And reveal the physician’s best diagnostic tool (it might come as a surprise). Why wouldn’t a physician’s training and daily routine make it on the list of recommendations for a healthy lifestyle?
Portray health care providers more precisely! We will provide insights into the world of modern medicine from the perspectives of education and training, clinical decision-making, academics, and, of course, the morgue, where the pathologist “knows everything and does everything, but it’s thirty minutes too late”. The instructors will provide real life examples for both segments to enhance context, and end with a question-and-answer forum. And we do not intend to supplant medical advice from your care provider.
This paragraph is just terribly written. Is my character really believable? I’m not doing social media like I’m supposed to. What if I make a mistake and everyone finds out that I’m a hack?
If this refrain sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Writes with a range of backgrounds, experience, and skill level deal with imposter syndrome and the accompanying anxiety every day—but it doesn’t need to hold you back. This interactive session, led by a writing and creativity coach, takes a positive, empowering approach to imposter syndrome, sharing strategies and skills for taking charge in your writing life.
In this three day course, voyager author Johnny shares his discoveries studying eastern philosophy during the pandemic and their surprising application to the life of an author. Sessions include directed mindfulness meditation and lecture on basic Buddhist concepts explaining how they may be successfully applied to the journey of writing. Handouts will be provided. Classes build upon each other, but each may be attended as a stand alone. Come as you are.
Whether you are (or seek to be) a traditionally or independently published author, you’ll need a platform. Most authors swear by their newsletters and reader groups as a way to actively engage new and loyal readers. This workshop will review the best practices to establishing and running stellar newsletters and reader groups.
Celebrating its 10th year in 2022, Draft2Digital not only offers free tools for both publishing and marketing digital books (in eBook and print), but has continued to expand the services, offerings, and dynamic tools to help writers save precious time on publishing and marketing logistics so they can get back to focusing on their writing.
Learn how you as an author can take advantage of these tools to create a custom-controlled pathway to success and reach readers around the world. See how the tools can help reduce the friction when it comes to collaborations, easily and safely managing their titles via virtual assistants, and bold new marketing opportunities.
Join Draft2Digital's Mark Leslie Lefebvre as he walks authors through the multitude of tools, options, and custom hacks available to help take authors to that next level of indie publishing success as well as the publishing trends that D2D has been tracking in retail and library outlets.
Readers, like nature, love diversity. We want diverse authors from every background to tell us fresh, original stories, but we also don’t want a book full of white, straight, cis characters because that’s what the author happens to be. Too many well-meaning authors rely on one-dimensional portrayals of characters that are different from themselves, which does an injustice to the people being represented and an insult to readers. “Own Voices” is an important movement in publishing, and should continue to grow, but authors should also learn how to write outside their own perspectives. Join Jessica Hopkins (Cherokee) and Phoe Boudreau (Cree) as they talk about writing authentic characters of color, how to research and respect real-world traditions like hoodoo, and the questions you should ask yourself when writing “the other.”
WRITING LIFE – ALL LEVELS
You’ve begun submitting your masterpiece—and it’s not getting the reaction you hoped for. Or you’re still struggling with a certain aspect of the story, something you’re not sure is hitting the mark. Or perhaps you've decided to self-publish and want to be sure your book is of top professional quality. It's time to call in a pro to help get you publication-ready. But how can you tell if the editor you're considering is a good match? What questions should you be asking? And what if you disagree with the feedback you receive? This session will show you how to find and engage the right editor for your needs, develop a strong writer-editor relationship, and protect your interests as a writer. You’ll also learn strategies for tackling the marked-up manuscript and bringing out the best in your writing.
Whether it’s how you write your book, how you market your book, or how you publish your book, there’s no one pathway to authorship. One Size Doesn’t Fit All. We see successful authors all around us, and rarely have they followed identical methods for getting there.
In this class we’ll talk about using your own strengths to follow the creative path that’s right for you, from finishing your novel to submitting it for publication, to finding the right readers. Think of it as the personality quiz for your writing life, and come learn how to use your existing strengths to empower yourself to create the author career you dream of.
Are you new to the whole writing/publishing world? Feeling a bit overwhelmed? Hesitant to ask questions in case you get branded as a green horn? Listen, we’ve all been there. Come join me for an upbeat and totally non-judgmental workshop as we dig into the basics of the book world. We’ll explore topics such as querying, the agented versus unagented route, getting published and staying published, author promotion, recent changes in the industry, what faux pas to avoid early in your career, and why it’s important to settle into a pace you can sustain for years to come. After all, writing is a marathon, not a sprint.
PechaKucha’s 20×20 presentation format shows your 20 chosen images, each for 20 seconds. You've got 400 seconds to tell your story, with visuals guiding the way. PechaKucha means “chit chat” in Japanese. This creative outlet began as nighttime get-togethers in Tokyo in 2003 by two renowned architects. Since then, three million people have attended PechaKucha events worldwide. Explore this method for synopsis and pitch practice as well as getting comfortable talking about yourself and your project succinctly with momentum and enthusiasm.
Every writer possesses unique skills and experiences which can become their greatest assets in achieving success. Yet many authors don’t know how to take full advantage of their own strengths, and become lost along the way. Learn how to identify your most logical and productive pathway, and engineer the best trajectory for your writing career.
Scrivener is excellent writing software for both plotters and seat-of-the-pants writers. Want to find out what makes it so popular, or learn some new tricks? The author of Scrivener For Dummies will walk you through the basics and cover some of her favorite features.
Sometimes books start with a story idea, sometimes with a character, but often what makes a story succeed is how well the character and plot work together to create a narrative that is both gripping and believable. In this interactive crash course on character and conflict, we'll explore some of the most effective techniques I've found for increasing conflict, revealing characters, and writing stories that readers (and editors) won't be able to put down. Some topics covered will include:
An extensive packet will be included with the session, as well as activities so participants can immediately apply concepts to their stories and get feedback during the session. By the end of the session, participants should have a greater understanding of how to structure narratives (both novel length and shorter) to engage readers while using plot to explore and reveal characters.
Rediscover a passion for the places where your stories happen. Learn tips for transporting your audience until they’re fully immersed in your world. This session also shows that setting can be more than just description—it can reveal character, tone, and theme as well. Explore the possibilities for your setting and get inspired!
Everyone is interested in ‘profiling,’ but few understand what it means. “Are you profiling me,” is a common question I get, and the reply might be – “sure, have you committed any murders lately?” This workshop will begin with an investigation, and how it was solved. We will then go thru some of the methods we use to solve violent crimes, and hopefully get a chance to examine a second case to further apply what we’ve learned. There will be a book available which examines many other case studies.
I’ll take you through creating concepts, characters, and conflict – from an idea that will sell to the execution that will see it through. Then we’ll talk about the publishing process, everything from polishing to submission and on through publication.
Character motivations are what really drive our stories. Are past traumas influencing their actions? Would your character REALLY do that? Is a particular mental illness an obstacle your protagonist must overcome or is it a gift that help achieve success? Are they neurodiverse and experience, interact and interpret the world you created in unique ways?
Putting your character on a therapy couch is one way to put meat on the bones of your characters and make them more three dimensional. You don't have to have a degree in psychology to do it, either. By using different methods, you can dig deeper into your character than you have before, uncover their past and develop motivations that will move your plot from inciting incident to fabulous denouement.
Borrowing the concept of chairwork typically used in Gestalt therapy, understanding the difference between PTSD and Complex PTSD, exploring the vibrant world of neurodiversity and infusing your own emotional journey into your writing, you can get your readers to invest in the success of your protagonist or understand the deeper motivations of your antagonist.
Writing fictional dialogue poses a challenge to every writer. On the one hand it must feel and sound authentic, while on the other it must serve the tempo, conflict, and ratcheting tension of storytelling. Learn to craft dialogue with the same energetic choreography you bring to an action scene.
Dialogue is not an information delivery system, nor is it typical human speech which wanders, circles, or flips back and forth like a badminton birdie. Dialogue needs a starting point, an ending point, and a point – furthering the plot or revealing character, usually both. Attendees will learn how to ground dialogue in character and setting, approaching a dialogue as an emotional dance that needs choreography just as much as an action scene or a sex scene.
Revision is not simply proofreading or grammar checking, but a strategic activity. Good revision strategies allow us to further develop and refine our stories – characters, settings, plot, structure, action, and voice – making sure we have taken best advantage of our ideas and creativity. Strong revision brings to bear the craft of writing as well as the art and passion.
Writing an entire novel can be intimidating. But if you remember that a book is a series of connected scenes, writing one scene at a time is much less daunting. Once you master scene structure, you have mastered one of the basics of storytelling. Come join us for an interactive discussion about how scene and sequel work.
To fully engage readers in your story, they have to be able to imagine the setting and identify with the experience. Using the senses in descriptions and scene creation can enliven your writing and provide a fuller experience for the reader.
Learn everything you need to get started with Scrivener—or level up—as the author of Scrivener For Dummies walks you through the basics, and covers some of her favorite tips and features, plus shows you how to compile (export) your manuscript to a DOCX and an EPUB.
Get insight into Scrivener’s more advanced features, learning how and when to use them—or whether you even need to. The author of Scrivener for Dummies will show you the best tools for revisions, how to get a granular look at your word count by scene/chapter, how to storyboard, options for keeping track of research, features to help you write faster, and how to customize the compile settings for DOCX, EPUB, and PDF for print-on-demand files.
Today's readers find their entertainment in a broadly diverse swath of sources including film, television, streaming content, video games, and many more. While prose fiction should maintain its own unique voice and style, tremendous lessons can be learned from these other media. At the same time, clarity will keep readers immersed in the narrative without knocking them out of the story or causing them to lose momentum. This workshop will reveal methods the writer can adopt to retain and thrill their audiences.
Many people love writing, but hate editing…and it shows in many published works. This session will discuss how to present your work professionally by the proper use of dialogue tips and tags, punctuation, writing tight, show versus tell, and, as a bonus, common word usage problems in print that you don’t want to make.
Traditional episodic television writers are skilled at crafting stories that keep viewers in their seats during commercial breaks –and that leave them guessing in the seven days between each episode. Learn the tips and tricks showrunners use to hold tension and attention so that you can keep readers in their seats as you serialize your prose! Let veteran television writer Ines Johnson teach you her twelve-point method to structure each episode of your serial, as well as techniques to tease, lead, and hook readers from episode to episode.
Have you ever wondered if your productivity systems are as good as they could be? Have you wondered why you're not as productive as you want to be? Even if you're just on the fence about your productivity, this workshop will illustrate some common myths about how productivity functions, taught by an expert in customized productivity systems.
Gather with fellow writers to practice your pitch. You’ll wait quietly in line for a turn to speak for five minutes with a published author, a seasoned writer, or maybe a VIP. When the time is up, you’re done! But you’re welcome to get back in line for another go.
Attendees, faculty, and VIPs alike, rave about how much fun they’ve had at this event.
Faculty and VIPs, feel free to drop by and help attendees with pitches, even if you haven’t signed up in advance.
This workshop will explain what a story bible is, how it works, and why you need one! It will include using a timeline, and formats that are simple to use. This concept is useful for a stand-alone manuscript, or series. Not only can a story bible help with organization, world building, character details, and editing, but it is also helpful whether you're a plotter, a pantser, or a planser!
But what does “strong woman” even mean these days? This workshop is an exploration of how fully realized female characters are portrayed across a variety of genres in modern fiction. We'll talk about some common pitfalls to watch out for, The Bechdel Test, and how the definition of “strong” does not translate to “fights like a man but has boobs.” You can use what you learn in this workshop to flesh out any character more fully, not just women.
Research shows that when a memory is attached to an emotion, it is more easily and deeply remembered. Giving your characters emotion, and taking your readers with them, will make your book a keeper, and get readers anxious for your next one. Angel will share with you some of the “tools” she uses and some of the ways she brings emotion to her stories.
Most working writers have at least one thing in common: they seek to grow the readership for their work. But what leads to readership growth? And what can you do, especially without a publisher’s help (or a large bankroll), to encourage that growth?
This session helps you better identify and grow a readership, whether you’re unpublished, traditionally published or self-published. Sometimes this is called “platform development.” Author platform is one of the most difficult concepts to explain in publishing, partly because everyone defines it a little differently. But by far the easiest explanation of platform is: visibility to your target audience—which translates into an ability to sell more books.
Platform building requires consistent, ongoing effort over the course of a career; the work is never really done, and your strategy and approach will evolve over time. It benefits from incremental improvements and pushing the boundaries of your own skill set. This master class will help you sort through various strategies, tools, and opportunities available and what makes sense at this point in time for the next stage of your career.
In today’s publishing industry, whether you’re trad or indie, you have to market yourself all the time. This workshop gives you an inside glimpse at Todd Fahnestock’s real-life journey starting as a baby marketer (he didn’t have a website) to becoming a marketing machine (website, biz cards, banners, full-blown Con set-up, understanding genre-specific covers & back cover copy, 3,000 + reader mailing list, social media presence, school visits with access to 50+ elementary school classrooms). He will show you the pitfalls and the peaks.
A ton of information is available online to help you query novels, but what if you're trying to submit short stories? We'll go over formatting, finding open markets, cover letters, and what happens after.
A presentation about those elements of narrative fiction that lend depth, value and resonance to writing. Every story has some, the best have many. We’ll learn how to identify which elements to include in your story. Subplots and multiple stories, arcs, settings, themes, novelties, information and more. A little foresight, a touch of research and a clear goal can nurture the muse to bring out the strength of the form.
Writers will be challenged to expand their fiction into elements beyond mere story and character. Emphasis will be placed on theme as well as history, education and entertainment qualities. Examples and techniques will be offered to help shape niches and expand any story into new areas of interest.
As writers, we know the value of an engaging opening scene or chapter to hook a reader. Just as important, however, is the story’s ending. A compelling finale and a perfectly realized closing line have a powerful magic of their own, no matter if your book is one in a series or a standalone. In this workshop, we'll explore six classic endings and why they work, and examine some nifty tools to help you wrap up your masterpiece.
Sometimes the best thing we can do for our creativity is counterintuitive: it’s adding constraints. We often believe that creativity comes from letting ourselves be free to explore every new angle, and while that can be true, we can also learn a lot by introducing some creative structure.
In this class, we’ll use Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein as a learning model for why constraints are an essential part of creativity and how we can use boundaries as an advantage to help us be stronger writers.
Critique groups are not all hugs and smiley faces and someone exclaiming, “My gosh, you're brilliant.” Neither should they tear you down, make you feel stupid, or personally attack you. Learn the “best practices” of how a critique group can and should work. We'll discuss what you need to know before forming a new group, what you should ask and expect before joining an established group, and what to do if things turn sour in either situation. We'll talk about how to set expectations and how to keep the group running in the right direction. We'll also delve into beta readers, what they are and whether they might be a more viable option in some situations.
First impressions are important: that’s as true for fictional creations as it is for factual people. And just as the first sentence of your story needs to enthrall, shock, intrigue, startle, amuse, or entice the reader, so too does their first encounter with your protagonist. Come learn how to catch your reader off guard and introduce your character in a way that demonstrates who they are, sets up conflict, and makes promises to the reader that you will either fulfill or subvert later. Discover varied strategies for arranging a reader’s successful blind date with your character.
For over a decade, I’ve used Blake Snyder’s groundbreaking books, Save the Cat and Save the Cat Strikes Back! to outline my projects, and the results have been sales, rave reviews, and satisfied readers. In this class, we’ll talk quickly about all fifteen beats, but we’ll mainly focus on the third act, and how to use Snyder’s Five-Step Finale to create the best ending possible. We’ll cover wrapping up character arcs, emphasizing themes, and plugging plot holes.
Best practices to reach a new audience (& you won't have to sing or dance to do it)
Titan Books is partnering with Conan Properties to produce new novels and short fiction based on the works of Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan, Solomon Kane, Kull of Valusia, Bran Mak Morn, and many more. Conan is the most famous sword and sorcery character of the 20th century, and Stephen King has said, “[i]n his best work, Howard's writing seems so highly charged with energy that it nearly gives off sparks. Stories such as 'The People of the Black Circle' glow with the fierce and eldritch light of his frenzied intensity.
Over the last decade, the publishing industry has undergone tremendous evolution due to the growth of online retail and digital books, as well as the power of any author to publish and distribute their work at the click of a button. Jane discusses everything you need to know about how book publishing operates today, in plain English, to help you understand the pros and cons of every major publishing path available.
A quality magic system can turn a good story into an unforgettable story, but writing a magic system that is creative, consistent, and interesting is tough. In fact, building magic systems often seems more instinct than skill. Instinct alone doesn’t work for everyone. Some of us need more structure to make our masterpiece.That’s where The Magic System Blueprint comes in.
The Blueprint combines nearly a decade of exploration, experimentation, and development into a simple tool that allows authors to quickly map their magic system and gain a holistic sense of how it works and how it fits into the story and setting. With the Blueprint in hand, you can analyze any system in existence and build any system imaginable.
So come learn the four different types of magic systems, the impact of your system’s prevalence, how to identify the source of the magic, and more. See how the magic systems from The Lord of the Rings, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Stargate SG-1, and Brandon Sanderson’s Allomancy compare and fit into the blueprint. Absorb all the ways you can tweak and twist your system into exactly what you need.
In short: start using The Magic System Blueprint today and your magic systems and stories will never be the same.
Do you struggle to execute the plans you make? Start off the year or the quarter with the best of intentions, and then you just can't follow-through? This workshop will break down the major functions of the psychology of planning and give some answers to the question: why can't I execute my plans? (Spoiler alert: it's not about SMART goals… promise.)
“I just don’t care enough about your character.” Write Characters Your Readers Won’t Forget provides a toolkit for addressing that issue. Explore what makes characters unforgettable to readers – and learn strategies for digging into and revealing your character’s motivations, drives, and conflict in entertaining and powerful ways. Write dialogue that electrifies your scenes and unpack the moments that matter in your characters’ lives. And discover how to chart your character arc in a way that empowers revision and more dynamic storytelling.
Like a god, you get to invent a world. Maybe several. But how do you make these worlds that readers want to visit? How do you make them worlds that readers never want to leave? In this intensive and practical series, explore how to build fictional worlds that grip the heart. Create imaginary religions and design fascinating environments, creatures, and cultures. Among the topics addressed in this workshop:
You will leave this workshop empowered, flooded with fresh ideas, and ready to write!
In this fun, interactive session, award-winning author Todd Mitchell will share several creativity enhancing techniques and activities that he's developed over two decades of teaching creative writing and researching creativity. The short writing games we'll do are designed to help writers of all levels engage creativity more effectively so that they can approach writing endeavors with renewed energy and inspiration. Bring paper and pen and prepare to play with words.
Note: This session can be done in-person or virtually. I recently conducted a 90-minute version of this session for the Castle Rock Writer's Conference, and it was very effective. Due to the interactive nature of this session, I think it would also work well as a 2 hour Write Brain session.
Completing your manuscript is only the beginning. To find a home with most publishing houses, it needs representation. You need a literary agent. However, the prospect of finding an agent is no small challenge and working with an agent to sell your manuscript to editors requires an understanding of the industry. Join Elizabeth Copps of Copps Literary Services for a workshop covering frequently asked questions on the querying process, what agents mean by “the current marketplace”, what to expect once an agent begins submitting your manuscript to editors, and much more.