Weekend With Your Novel: Sessions

Writing Crime Scenes: Garage-Sale Puzzles, and That Gut-Feeling — Dan Román
A garage-sale puzzle is often a challenge: the pieces are thrown into a plastic bag, no box with the picture, pieces missing and, many times, pieces added from a totally different puzzle. A crime scene typically carries along these same features: no picture on the box, pieces/clues missing (think of Cornish hens with parts missing), and the occasional contaminated scene with extra “clues” thrown in. It takes time to figure out complicated crime scenes, a process that can be accelerated by having a deep visual database of what crime scenes look like, and following your gut as to what doesn’t belong.

World-building: Creating a World Without Stalling the Story — Tim Storm
World-building and back story authors can get pretty excited about the invented worlds of their stories. But that excitement sometimes translates to excessive description and digression. We’ll examine how to create the world and history without stalling the story. Leave with practical tips on incorporating back story, setting, and exposition.

Take Your Readers on an Emotional Journey — Angela Rydell
The emotional impact of your novel shouldn’t be accidental. While you can’t control what readers feel, Donald Maass says, “you can control whether they will feel something in the first place, and what those feelings will be.” Provoking emotion in readers comes partly from revealing the inner lives of characters. We artfully imply a character’s emotions through action, clever subtext, or well-chosen descriptive language. The narration interprets, comments, or dips into a character’s head. But reader emotion is also provoked when you plot the outer life of your character—creating circumstances that raise personal stakes, forcing gut-wrenching decisions, and heightening reader suspense. A discussion of established writer’s work will explore how this meaningful interplay of inner emotion and outer action builds plot while also challenging readers to think, question, and form opinions about the characters they’re reading—and themselves. And that keeps readers emotionally involved from first page to last.

10 Tips for Writing After Weekend With Your Novel — Kristin Oakley
You’re spending a whole weekend on your novel — how can you keep that momentum going? We’ll discuss 10 tips to do just that including: Three effective ideas for joining or forming a critique group and putting your new critique skills to good use; how to establish effective goals to complete your work-in-progress; places to submit your Weekend With Your Novel work; and much more.

Writing Powerful Scenes — Angela Rydell
Scenes are the building blocks of all good novels. Yet many writers write scenes without giving structure a second thought. Sometimes those scenes come out right, sometimes they fall flat. Why rely on instinct alone? We’ll analyze goal, conflict, action-reaction, and character change in short scenes by successful writers, and you’ll come away a blueprint to help you construct a well-formed scene every time.

Novel Structure: Overview and Options — Tim Storm
Long-form storytelling needs structure. Without it, readers will be disoriented or disengaged. But where do you begin with structure? How do you avoid being formulaic? We’ll give an overview of the many options for novel structure and discuss the difference between formula and guidance.

Top 10 Mistakes New Novelists Make — Kristin Oakley
Many new novelists make the same mistakes including avoiding description, avoiding setting, and not trusting the reader. In this workshop, we will use exercises to help improve your writing by steering clear of those mistakes.

Master Class: On Novel Beginnings — Liam Callanan
Your novel’s opening is the first thing read by an agent, a publisher, and your readers, of crucial importance and yet difficult to get right. We’ll look at examples for close readings, and discuss why they do (or don’t) work. Liam will show how the opening of his new novel, Paris by the Book (due out in 2018 on four continents and in five languages), evolved over the course of many drafts to show how a fellow writer struggled through sorting out how best to open a novel. For anyone who wants to be sure that they’re getting their novel off to the best start possible. Learn how to assess your book’s unique needs, and how to establish and curate the reader’s expectations.

How Not to Write a Novel (& How to Avoid Not Writing) — Christopher Chambers
Just as there are countless ways to write a novel, there are as many or more ways to sabotage yourself and not get your novel written. We’ll look at common ways writers consciously and unconsciously undermine themselves and strategies for learning new ways to approach our writing that will help you get that novel written. We’ll discuss approaches to revision and correct formatting of the manuscript once it’s written.

Writing Your Life as Fiction: Overcoming Writer’s Block — Agate Nesaule
After a forty-year-long silence about her wartime childhood, Agate Nesaule was finally able to start writing.  She wrote a memoir of those experiences as a novel, then re-wrote and published it as memoir. In this session, learn how one writer used her own life as material for a novel and a memoir, and how she handled point of view, narrative sequencing, inclusion vs. omission, choice of characters, authenticity, privacy vs. publication, and how to enlist the help of friends and the unconscious.

True Stories from the Publishing World — Ian Graham Leask
Serious writers want to become authors and to be recognized as authors they need to be published, but getting published traditionally is insanely difficult, and self-publishing can turn into a nightmarish quagmire if undertaken naively. Writers who do not understand how the business of publishing works today are at a severe disadvantage when it comes to exercising their options once their novels are completed. In this session we will dispel the myths and discuss the realities of contemporary publishing practices, and illustrate the wide range of publishing scenarios available to novelists.


Excellence vs. Success: An Editor’s Advice to Novelists — Christopher Chambers