Weekend with Your Novel: “Blueprint for Your Book: Foundation to Finish”
With special guest author: Danika Dinsmore
The total weekend experience catapults your writing to the next, important level overnight. Readers, reviewers, editors, publishers, and literary agents are all after one thing: Quality writing.
Quality writing depends on how it’s “built.”
Like the structure of a house or anything we build, our writing must hold up under scrutiny. What are agents looking for when a submission comes in? What are reviewers eager to find within the indie-published world? Good structure.
Several elements account for good structure in a novel—and that’s what this year’s new edition of “Weekend with Your Novel” is all about.
Learn how to fine-tune everything from your novel’s foundation to its finishing touches. From sentence to scene, from plot points to powerhouse characterization and settings, this weekend sends you home with a blueprint for deep revision—or for starting a novel with more attention to quality in the details.
Choose from 16 workshops (advanced track included)
In the 16 workshops to choose from over three days (in two tracks for levels of experience), you get a mix of hands-on exercises, discussion, lecture, and challenging questions to mull over about your novel. But hands-on stuff is always optional; feel free to just sit and listen, absorb, and enjoy.
For Saturday attendees, we provide plenty of thorough handouts to take home, too.
Add on the luncheon workshop and presentation by Danika Dinsmore and you’ll go home with a map for not just revising, but for boosting your career. (Luncheon is optional and extra—$12.50.)
And if you’re not ready to plunge into a full day, choose only a critique workshop or book structure workshop late Friday or Saturday afternoon for only $35 or $65.
Take advantage of a professional critique workshop while you’re here
When you attend a critique workshop (two price levels and page amounts), you receive the bonus of an entire critique group’s microscope on your pages. Critique workshops let you examine your writing style, characterizations, plotting, scene structure, point of view usage, and much more. You learn from the contributions of the other writers in your group and the comments made by the instructor on everybody’s material. You make quick progress in a professional, friendly, and respectful atmosphere.
Create your plan now—with a do-able deadline
Many writers like to use this weekend as a deadline to finally finish their novel or to start a novel. Sign up now, write like crazy, and then reward yourself by attending this weekend with fellow writers who have likely done the very same thing.
Can’t decide which workshops to take? Bring a friend! Share notes afterward. Make this a weekend “spa” for your novel or your writers’ group. Camaraderie fuels creativity. Go out to dinner on Friday or Saturday night with your friends and exchange notes from whatever you’ve attended so far. Set up your writing plan for the coming winter months. We’ll provide tips on restaurants within easy walking distance and that fit your budget.
Make it your goal to make agents, editors, and readers go “wow” about the structure of every element within your novel, from sentence to scene, from foundation to finish.
Is it time to seize your blueprint for success?
We look forward to seeing you in November!
P.S. The fall weekend retreat is an ideal warm-up for those of you attending spring conferences across the country where agents take pitches, including the Friday-Sunday noon, April 12-14, 2013, 24th anniversary edition of Writers’ Institute in Madison.
- Option 1, $155 (by Oct. 5; $175 after): Saturday workshops plus one 10-page critique group. ($95 workshops + $60 critique/save $5)
- Option 2, $130 (by Oct. 5; $150 after): Saturday workshops plus one 3-page critique group.
- Option 3, $95 (by Oct. 5; $115 after): Saturday workshops only; no critique group.
- Option 4, $65 Critique group session ONLY (“Your first 10 pages”).
- Option 5, $35: Attending ONLY Fri. pm Bridget Birdsall workshop.
- Option 6, $35: Attending ONLY Sat. pm Laurie Scheer (“Your first 3 pages”) critique group.
- Add lunch and presentation to Option 1, 2, or 3: $12.50.
A block has been reserved in nearby Lowell Center, 610 Langdon St., http://conferencing.uwex.edu/lodging_res.cfm. Our group number or name is “NOVEL.” Lodging costs are on your own. Call toll-free 1-866-301-1753.
Friday Schedule, Nov. 2, 2012
Short on time? Can only attend Friday evening? Please join us. Fees vary, $35 to $65.
Bridget Birdsall structure workshop: Brigitta of the White Forest, by Danika Dinsmore($35 if not attending Saturday; free bonus session for those signed up for Saturday)
Critique Workshop, Christine DeSmet, Your first 10 pages, $65 ($60 if enrolled for Saturday)
Critique Workshop, Laurie Scheer Canceled; please join Laurie’s sections on Saturday or Sunday.
Registration 8:00-9:00 a.m., Lobby, Pyle Center, 702 Langdon St.
Main room: Room 313 Pyle Center, coffee, tea, pastry and fruit available.
Early-bird bonus session in Room 313:
8:15-8:45 a.m. “Your Blueprint for Success—What’s the No. 1 Thing to Know?”
How we get the writing done varies by writer and writing project. Do you outline this novel or write by the seat of your pants? What’s the best revision tactic ever? How do you deal with fears—such as spending years of your precious life on a novel that may go nowhere? Are you caught in a revising-my-novel-to-death “loop” and need help getting out? When is your novel good enough and done? Join us anytime for informal Q&A and tips from Bridget Birdsall, Christine DeSmet, Laurie Scheer.
9:00-10:30 a.m. (Break 10:30-10:45 a.m.)
1. Pressure Point Plan for Structuring a Novel- Laurel Yourke (Track 2)
2. Introduction to Speculative Fiction-Danika Dinsmore (Track 1&2)
3. Create a Blueprint for Your Novel- Bridget Birdsall (Track 1&2)
10:45 a.m.-Noon(Noon, Buffet lunch & presentation, optional; $12.50 prepaid only. Guest speaker: Danika Dinsmore)
4. The $750,000 Advance: Harbach’s The Art of Fielding- Laurel Yourke (Track 1&2)
5. The Writer’s Journey- Laurie Scheer (Track 1)
6. Constructing Dialogue That Has Legs- Bridget Birdsall (Track 1)
(Break: 2:45-3:00, coffee/tea/cookies)
7. Hands-On Revision: Scene!- Christopher Mohar (Track 1)
8. Imaginary Worlds- Danika Dinsmore
9. The Triad: Strengthening Character, Plot & Setting in Unison- Christine DeSmet
10. Hands-On Revision: Refining Characters- Christopher Mohar (Track 1)
11. Case Study: The World’s Worst First Novel- Laurie Scheer
12. Story Spine: Five Scenes for Fame & Fortune- Christine DeSmet, (Track 1)
4:15-5:00 General session, Rm 313
Special offer: Are you new to our programs? New to writing? Or short on time? Attend only this session along with Laurie’s critique group workshop today for a special price of $35.
|After You Revise and Polish: Your Next Steps- Bridget Birdsall, Christine DeSmet, Laurie Scheer. How to find and query agents, make the most of conferences, prep for agent meetings, and more. Bring your questions.|
5-7 pm Critique workshops (private groups/pre-register).
|Laurie Scheer, (Your first 3 pages, $35 or 10 pages for $65; $60 if enrolled all day)||Bridget Birdsall
(Your first 10 pages, $65; $60 if enrolled all day)
(Your first 10 pages, $65;$60 if enrolled all day)
Sunday, November 4, 2012
G. 9:00-11:00 am, Critique workshop with Bridget Birdsall. Your first 10 pages, $65 ($60 if enrolled for Saturday workshops). Limit: 6 writers
H. 9:00-11:00 am, Critique workshop with Laurie Scheer. Your first 10 pages, $65 ($60 if enrolled for Saturday workshops). Limit: 8 writers
Critique groups fill fast. Please call 608-262-2451 to register.
Critique group workshops focus on YOUR craft issues that stand between you and publication. Editors and agents tell us they know within just a few pages whether a manuscript is “right or ready, or not.” You learn by listening to and participating in the discussion on all the writers’ manuscripts in each group. A group critique conducted under the guidance of an experienced instructor provides you an in-depth, professional feedback experience.
Your NEW option this year: Choose “Your first 3 pages for $35” on Saturday or “Your first 10 pages for $65/$60” with choices on all three days. Enroll in as many critique groups as you wish.
You can enroll in a critique group workshop without enrolling for anything else. You save $5 on the “First 10 pages” critique groups if also attending Saturday all day.
What to send and where to send it.
Please email your material as an attachment in Microsoft Word, or Rich Text File, or a PDF.
Please email your material by Oct. 19. If enrolling later than Oct. 19, please email us first about availability of spots in the groups.
Pages must be in standard format, double-spaced (not 1.5 spacing, no cheating, please), 12-point Times New Roman typeface, one-inch margins. For this workshop, you can use the whole first page instead of dropping down to start the text. Please add your name to the header in the upper left, and page numeral upper right.
Please also email up to a half-page, single-spaced summary of your book’s plot. Please state what genre you’re working in. Examples of genre: mystery, mainstream/literary, Young Adult fantasy, romantic suspense.
Email your submission to Laura Kahl, firstname.lastname@example.org or send by postal mail to: Laura Kahl/Novel Weekend Critique, 21 N. Park St., 7th floor, Madison, WI 53715-1218.
Email addresses are shared within each critique group but not beyond that. Our lists are never shared with any outside folks.
Friday night book discussion workshop—new option this year
If you don’t have the time to join us for the Saturday workshops, join Bridget Birdsall’s structure tips and techniques workshop on Friday, 6:30-8 p.m. for only $35.
You don’t even have to read the suggested book to glean good tips for your writing, but we hope you can find the time beforehand because that will enhance your workshop experience. Bridget will be analyzing the techniques used in Danika Dinsmore’s book that is receiving phenomenal reviews, Brigitta of the White Forest. It’s a middle-grade, fantasy adventure and the first book of a series. Take home new ways of looking at plot, character, setting, theme, and more.
This workshop presents techniques that apply to all types of writing. You’ll be among writers of many genres seeking tips to improve their storytelling skills.
You may attend any session, no matter what track it’s in. You may change your mind at the last minute and attend a different workshop.
Track 1: “I’m starting out in novel writing and writing workshops.”
Who benefits most from workshops in this track: You’re probably writing your first chapters, or maybe you haven’t written at all but want to start smart. Maybe you’ve written a whole manuscript that’s been sitting on the shelf for a long time and you’re ready to re-start. Or you’ve vowed to start a new novel differently and smarter this time.
Track 2: “I’m close to looking for an agent or self/indie publishing.”
Who benefits most from workshops in this track: You’ve finished your manuscript or are close. You may have gone through a revision or two already. Maybe even suffered a couple of agent rejections. You’re serious about polishing and using all the advice you can get in a short time. You’ve likely taken other workshops and read several good how-to books so you know the jargon and don’t need basics explained to you. You may be looking ahead to pitching to the agents coming to the April 2013 UW-Madison “Writers’ Institute” conference.
Friday, Nov. 2, 2012
A. 6:30-8:00 pm, Bridget Birdsall, Structure Workshop: Brigitta of the White Forest, by Danika Dinsmore. No enrollment limit. Cost: $35 if taken alone, FREE to those who have also signed up for Saturday all day. Much more than a mere book talk! We encourage you to read the novel beforehand, but you’re invited to listen in and learn even if you haven’t read it. The workshop focuses on tips and techniques of good structure in everything from scenes to chapters to plot, effective characterization, setting, theme, and more that all writers can apply to their novels.
B. Critique Group Workshop (Your First 10 Pages), 6:30-8:00 pm, with Christine DeSmet. Limited to 6, closed to others. Cost: $65 if taken alone, $60 if you’re also enrolled Saturday all day. Email your first 10 pages at least two weeks before the program if possible. You receive feedback from five other writers plus the instructor. Material must be double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman, one-inch margins, and sent as an attachment to Laura Kahl, email@example.com.
Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012
1. Pressure Point Plan for Structuring a Novel
with Laurel Yourke
No one—including fictional characters—willingly abandons lifelong habits. Only an external source of pressure threatening safety, happiness, love or success forces change. Plot guru Linda Seger urges writers to build suspense, character arc and even theme from an escalating series of five Pressure Points, beginning with the inciting incident and culminating in the climax. During this session you’ll identify and assess the pressure points of your own novel to generate higher stakes and greater credibility.
2. Introduction to Speculative Fiction
with Danika Dinsmore
Dystopian, paranormal, steampunk, and slipstream. No longer do we think solely in terms of Sci Fi, Fantasy, and Horror when it comes to speculative fiction. And its subgenres continue to morph and grow in this extremely popular market. As readers and writers become more sophisticated, genres are blended and blurred. In this workshop, Danika will lead you on a journey through the world of speculative fiction and show you how she created her own subgenre. If working within a speculative realm excites you, this overview is for you. Join us for inspiring discussions and practical exercises. Leave with at least one solid story idea that you can develop later on your own or in Danika’s Imaginary Worlds workshop.
3. Create a Blueprint for Your Novel
with Bridget Birdsall
Bring at least five different colored markers and one pad of sticky notes. Borrowing from Aristotle’s famous Poetics, you will complete a blueprint of your novel which will include page counts, primary plot points, mini-scene descriptions, chapter titles (if applicable), turning points, pinch scenes, your climatic and cathartic moments. You’ll leave with a visual image, a clearly-defined blueprint of the book you have and the book you want to build!
4. The $750,000 Advance: Harbach’s The Art of Fielding
with Laurel Yourke
Not everyone writes like Chad Harbach—or can or should. But even if you don’t finish his book before this session, you’ll get tips and techniques about scenario, characterization, plot, voice and metaphor from our discussion. What does he do well enough to receive all that attention (not to mention money), and how can you apply this to your own book? You can never tell. Maybe a $750,000 advance is in your future?
5. The Writer’s Journey
with Laurie Scheer
Based on Christopher Vogler’s book, The Writer’s Journey, this workshop outlines the 12 steps every good story needs to address in order to be effective. Whether you are new to this material or you need a refresher, this workshop offers practical advice about how to structure your novel.
6. Constructing Dialogue That Has Legs and Can Walk All Over Your Page!
with Bridget Birdsall
How often have you looked at your work, and been satisfied with your characters and your overall plot and your individual scenes, but you just can’t get the dialogue to sing? Let along walk all over your page? To stand, all structures need legs. This is where so many novelists fall off the bridge between the written word and the reader. You learn the seven secrets to make your dialogue not only sing but ZING—all over the page. Watch out, world!
7. Hands-on Revision: Scene!
with Christopher Mohar
You can't sell about book without good scenes, and you can't write tight scenes without knowing how to incorporate description, imagery, action, dialogue, and all of the other components of a scene. In this workshop, we'll work through an example manuscript to show you how all of the components of a scene fit together, line by line. You'll learn just what to cut and just what to keep, and how to avoid the ways you might be "telling" and not "showing," without even realizing it! How exactly does a good idea turn into a good scene? Come find out.
8. Imaginary Worlds
with Danika Dinsmore
As a writer, having an imaginary world of your own gives you a jumping off place for an infinite number of stories. Several authors have successfully built multiple series from one world. But what does is take to create a full-scale imaginary world and how do you make yours so enticing readers won’t want to leave? Creating a World Book is the perfect place to start. Whether this world is an alternate reality, a dystopian future, or set among the stars your world book will be your priceless guide. Speculative fiction writer Danika Dinsmore will share her personal White Forest World Book and give you practical exercises and guidelines for creating your own. Doing the work in advance will not only save you hassle later, the process itself is ultimately inspiring.
(NOTE: if you are new to speculative fiction, we suggest you begin with Danika’s Introduction to Speculative Fiction workshop.)
9. The Triad: Strengthening Character, Plot & Setting in Unison
with Christine DeSmet
Novels are just like a three-legged stool: If you have one weak leg, the entire structure collapses. This triad—character, plot, setting—is a major storytelling sales tool. It’s also the first short list that any agent, reader, or reviewer looks for and judges you by. Yet, many writers forget to polish one of the three legs—I see that happen all the time in the manuscripts I work on with writers. Writers who do indeed polish all three legs are the ones who go on to get agents the fastest or garner great reviews after indie publishing. This workshop presents valuable lists of tactics to enhance all three legs, whether you’re in the revision phase or just starting your novel. For those with a current Work-In-Progress, bring your first three pages to refer to if you wish, but that’s not essential for this workshop. Handouts will include examples of the triad working at its best from published authors. We’ll also look at how this triad is essential when writing, designing, and revising your query letter, synopsis, and book covers.
10. Hands-on Revision: Refining Characters
with Christopher Mohar
No, I don't mean that you're going to have all of your characters read the Miss Manners guide. This type of refining is more like the processing of crude oil into high-octane gasoline. But how do you develop that first draft into a complete character-driven work? We'll cover dialogue, five ways to develop character traits, the proper presentation of emotion, use of gestures, descriptions, actions, appearances and more.
11. Case Study: An Analysis of the World’s Worst First Novel
with Laurie Scheer
Here are some ingredients needed to create a bad first novel: a topic that includes introverted subject matter important only to the author, a small, quiet obscure scenario, slow pace, and all of the characters sounding alike…let’s stop there. In this case study workshop, an analysis of the first chapter of an author’s first novel takes place. During the analysis, elements that often appear in writer’s first efforts are discussed. While unraveling one of the world’s worst first drafts, the writer becomes aware of what not to do while composing their own novel manuscript. Additionally, while working with this real-world first time manuscript, the history of how it reached agents and the journey it went through along the way is revealed while workshop participants also learn what to avoid while preparing their manuscripts, seeking representation and what to re-write without pay/or for pay and finally now to accept rejection only to triumph knowing what not to do next time around. Join Laurie Scheer as she shares her first novel manuscript facing embarrassment with hopes to help others avoid the mistakes she made.
12. Hone Your Story’s Spine: Five Scenes for Fame & Fortune
with Christine DeSmet
Five key scenes create the “tent poles” that hold up your novel’s structure—or story spine. These scenes are different—mostly—than the commonly-known plot point scenes. The Midpoint Crisis scene is both a plot point scene and a story spine tent-pole scene; it’s essential for all stories. But do you have Character Skill & Echo scenes? A Denial-of-the-Journey scene? A Threshold-Passage-into-Story scene? A Failure-and-Despair scene? A Mano-a-Mano scene? These and other crucial scenes create your story for you; many writers think up these story-spine scenes first as way to speed-plot a new novel. Adding them or honing what you already have will enhance the quality of your novel. Learn how to weld together action with emotional depth. Make your scenes more memorable, improve the power and purpose of characters, and define the “through-line” for your story.
4:15-5:00 Bonus Saturday Workshop: After You Revise and Polish: Your Next Steps
with Bridget Birdsall, Christine DeSmet, Laurie Scheer
This weekend you’ve honed your craft. When your manuscript is ready, what do you do next? How do you contact agents? Or should you go with indie publishing instead? What value is a writers’ conference? How do you get the most out of a conference so you’re not wasting your time and money? What value are associations and writing groups? Contests? What about blogging and other social media madness? Bring your questions! Special Offer: You may attend this session and Laurie Scheer’s 5-7 pm Critique Group for $35 without enrolling for the entire weekend.
5:00-7:00 Critique Workshop Sessions
D. Critique Group Workshop (Your first 3 pages $35 or 10 pages $65 if taken alone/$60 if attending Saturday all day ), 5-7 pm with Laurie Scheer. Limited to 8 writers, closed to others. You may enroll in only this event, if you wish. Email your first 3 pages at least two weeks before the program. You receive feedback from seven other writers plus the instructor. Material must be double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman, one-inch margins, and sent as an attachment to Laura Kahl, firstname.lastname@example.org.
E. Critique Group Workshop (Your First 10 Pages), 5-7 pm, with Bridget Birdsall, $65 if taken alone/$60 if attending Saturday all day. Limited to 6 writers, closed to others. Email your first 10 pages at least two weeks before the program. You receive feedback from five other writers plus the instructor. Material must be double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman, one-inch margins, and sent as an attachment to Laura Kahl, email@example.com.
F. Critique Group Workshop (Your First 10 Pages), 5-7 pm, with Christine DeSmet, $65 if taken alone/$60 if attending Saturday all day. Limited to 8 writers, closed to others. Email your first 10 pages at least two weeks before the program. You receive feedback from seven other writers plus the instructor. Material must be double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman, one-inch margins, and sent as an attachment to Laura Kahl, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012
G. Critique Group Workshop (Your First 10 Pages), 9-11 am, with Bridget Birdsall, $65 if taken alone/$60 if attending Saturday all day. Limited to 6 writers, closed to others. Email your first 10 pages at least two weeks before the program. You receive feedback from five other writers plus the instructor. Material must be double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman, one-inch margins, and sent as an attachment to Laura Kahl, email@example.com.
H. Critique Group Workshop (Your First 10 Pages), 9-11 am, with Laurie Scheer, $65 if taken alone/$60 if attending Saturday all day. Limited to 8 writers, closed to others. Email your first 10 pages at least two weeks before the program. You receive feedback from seven other writers plus the instructor. Material must be double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman, one-inch margins, and sent as an attachment to Laura Kahl, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guest luncheon speaker: Danika Dinsmore
Danika Dinsmore works in speculative fiction with an emphasis on juvenile and young adult literature. She teaches creative writing, dystopian fiction, and world building to both kids and adults. With an MFA in Writing and Poetics from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics and an Advanced Certificate in Screenwriting from the University of Washington, she has a diverse creative background and has won awards for both her writing and spoken word performances. Danika has also served as director for the Northwest SPokenword LAB, the Seattle Poetry Festival, and the Vancouver Women in Film Festival.
The first book in her children's fantasy series (Brigitta of the White Forest) was released in 2011 and the second book (The Ruins of Noe) was released in May 2012 (Hydra House). She is currently working on the third novel in the series (Ondelle of Grioth) as well as a YA pop space opera (Intergalactic). Her short story “String Theory” will be included in the upcoming Futuredaze anthology of young adult science fiction (Underwords, 2013).
Bridget Birdsall is an author, artist and teacher. She has taught creative writing, literature, poetry and playwriting at Edgewood College and Madison College. She also served as a Visiting Artist at local Madison high schools and as a Graduate Assistant at Vermont College of the Fine Arts. Despite a life-long struggle with dyslexia, Bridget made a mid-life decision to pursue her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. Today, she is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including the Marge Chandler Scholarship from the international foundation that supports women writers, A Room of Her Own (AROHO). In 2009, she was also a finalist for their $50,000 Gift of Freedom Award. Her YA novel August Atlas, is seeking a publisher under the representation of the Jonathan Lyon’s Literary Agency, it received an honorable mention in the Writer’s Institute’s First Page Contest. Ordinary Angels took first place, then went on to become her debut novel. Bridget recently joined the UW-Madison’s Division of Continuing Studies team, where she’s thrilled to have the opportunity to help other writers get their words out in the world.
Christine DeSmet iis a novelist and short story writer, screenwriter, and writing teacher at UW-Madison where she specializes in one-on-one coaching of writers. In 2012, Christine sold a three-book cozy mystery series to New American Library/Penguin and editor Danielle Perez. Christine’s agent is John Talbot. Christine’s previous novel, a romantic suspense, Spirit Lake, was an award-winning, best-selling novel for publisher Hard Shell Word Factory/Mundania Press. Also a short fiction writer, her humorous romantic mystery series set in Wisconsin appears in two volumes: Mischief in Moonstone, and Men of Moonstone. Christine is a past winner of the Slamdance Film Festival and optioned that screenplay to New Line Cinema. She’s a member of Writers Guild of America, East; Wisconsin Screenwriters Forum; Romance Writers of America; Sisters in Crime; Mystery Writers of America; and Jewels of the Quill. Her stage play, “Climax!,” about a struggling writer, was a top-ten finalist in a Wisconsin Wrights New Play Contest.
Danika Dinsmore works in speculative fiction with an emphasis on juvenile and young adult literature. She teaches creative writing, dystopian fiction, and world building to both kids and adults. With an MFA in Writing and Poetics from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics and an Advanced Certificate in Screenwriting from the University of Washington, she has a diverse creative background and has won awards for both her writing and spoken word performances. Danika has also served as director for the Northwest SPokenword LAB, the Seattle Poetry Festival, and the Vancouver Women in Film Festival. The first book in her children's fantasy series (Brigitta of the White Forest) was released in 2011 and the second book (The Ruins of Noe) was released in May 2012 (Hydra House). She is currently working on the third novel in the series (Ondelle of Grioth) as well as a YA pop space opera (Intergalactic). Her short story “String Theory” will be included in the upcoming Futuredaze anthology of young adult science fiction (Underwords, 2013).
Christopher Mohar is the recipient of a fiction fellowship from the University of Wisconsin, The Southwest Review’s McGinnis Ritchie Award for Fiction (2010), and is the 2011 winner of The Journal's Annual Short Story Contest. Christopher has taught fiction at two UW's (Seattle and Madison) and in a men's correctional facility, and in past lives has been a metallurgical engineer, a busboy, and a legal assistant’s assistant. Some of his recent work can be found in Creative Nonfiction, LIT, Gastronomica, DIAGRAM and the anthology New Stories from the Midwest (Indiana University Press).
Laurie Scheer is a member of our UW Continuing Studies writing department. During her 20-year career in the entertainment industry, Laurie has worked for ABC, Viacom, and Cablevision where she has purchased, developed, and produced both television and independent feature film projects, and, as a development consultant, has acquired and developed materials for numerous production companies. She has been a guest speaker at nearly every important industry organization from the Academy of TV Arts and Sciences to the Writer's Guild to the Romance Writers of America. Among other distinctions, Laurie is an author, an Emmy-nominated producer, the pitch coach for NATPE, and she has just launched a new writing journal Midwest Prairie Review as a vehicle for Midwestern writers’ voices to shine.Currently, she is researching projects that assist writers in working within all platforms within a multiplatform digital arena.
Laurel Yourke,UW-Madison Department of Liberal Studies and the Arts Emeritus, is the author of Take Your Characters to Dinner: Creating the Illusion of Reality in Fiction. This text forms the backbone of credit and noncredit courses offered in print and online to writers all over the world. She is a recipient of the UW-Madison Chancellor's Award for Teaching Excellence and the Council of Wisconsin Writers Award for Encouragement of Wisconsin Writers. Her critique workshops for intermediate and advanced fiction writers and poets have existed since 1995. Her poetry collection, Waiting for Beethoven, came out in 2005, with the second edition published in 2006. Her poetry has appeared in university presses, Wisconsin Academy Proceedings, and other periodicals and has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Her articles have appeared in the magazines Anew and the Wisconsin Academy Review. She has a short story in the 2008 Cup of Comfort for Cat Lovers and is currently completing a book on revising the novel.
The following links will take you to visitor information pages from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
- Campus information and visitor center
- Things to do in Madison
- Campus map
- Directions to campus
- Parking and transportation
What they said about past editions of this program
“As an English major, an advertising writer, Writer's Boot Camp attendee, and an avid reader of how-to-write fiction books, I didn't know how much I would get out of Weekend with Your Novel. It turned out to be the best investment in my writing I've ever made. Worth much more than my entire library of how-to books! Don't hesitate to sign up. Seriously. How much do you really do in a weekend at home anyway?!
“Just go! You'll love it and so will every single one of your characters. Even your antagonist will thank you.” - Karen Doornebos, Riverside, Illinois
“Thanks for once again putting together an exceptional set of sessions! I’m going home revved up and ready to finish my rewrite and ready to pitch in April!” Karla Kroeplin, Salem, Wis.
“Altogether thought-provoking. Excellent for both beginning and experienced writers.” Edward Semon, Lac du Flambeau, Wis.
“Wonderful—inspiring—motivating. Very generous program.” - Jay Kist, Palatine, Ill.
“Weekend With Your Novel gets me pumped up for a winter of writing.” Barbara Britton, Brookfield, Wis.
“The Saturday lineup was fantastic! Something for writers gestating ideas and/or polishing their final work. Great job!” - Jessica Riley, Oshkosh, Wis.
“I learned so much. This weekend really followed my bliss.” - Jane Govoni, Oxford, Wis.
“Well instructed. After each session or workshop, I came out with answers, questions, and invigorating inspiration! Thank you. I especially appreciated the opportunities to reflect on my own novel (as well as others). The suggested resources and readings are much appreciated. In summary, every cent spent for this weekend was returned ten fold. Definitely worth the time and money.” - Phonekeo Siharath, Madison
No textbook on writing is required reading for this retreat. Many of you have asked us for recommendations of books that can enhance your learning experience and maybe speed you on your way toward publication.
Dwight Swain, Techniques of the Selling Writer (particularly for Track 1 attendees)
Noah Lukeman, The First Five Pages and The Plot Thickens (and his free download, How to Write a Great Query Letter)
Donald Maass, Writing the Breakout Novel and Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook
Robert McKee, Story
Christopher Vogler, The Writer’s Journey
Laurel Yourke, Take Your Characters to Dinner
Other suggested books or authors may be listed or implied within workshop descriptions.
Review what you want to do. What days? Critiques or not? Lunch?
You don’t have to decide now on what Saturday workshops (1 through 12) you’re attending or tell the registration people. Saturday workshops are numbered for your convenience only.
Register by calling 608-262-2451. Credit cards and checks are both accepted. You will be asked for your email address. It will be shared only with your critique group (if you choose that option) for the purposes of sharing manuscript material.
If attending a critique group session, please email your pages to Laura Kahl by Oct. 19. Late registrations for critique groups will be accepted as space allows.
Prepare to gain a professional edge. That's what this weekend is all about.
Questions? Need guidance on which book to read beforehand, or which workshops to sign up for? Call Christine DeSmet, 608-262-3447, or email her at email@example.com.