Weekend With Your Novel: Sessions

"A workshop like this makes the writing life real. From the instructors to the other writers, the group shared their stories and often received on-the-spot remedies for problems. My critique group was a gift. Laurie was wonderful in guiding us through a thoughtful and rich discussion of strengths in our opening pages. We all left ready to finish our drafts with renewed energy."

2014 Participant

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Weekend With Your Novel Sessions: 2018

Keynote: The Only Way Out is Through: Writing Novels Amid Anxiety, Shame, and Despair, Alissa Nutting & Dean Bakopoulos

Critically-acclaimed novelists Alissa Nutting & Dean Bakopoulos explore the ways writers can harness the power of their darkest emotions and turn them into fuel for shining, original, surreal, and powerful fiction.

It’s Never Too Late! From Procrastination to Publication, Bridget Birdsall

Whatever calls to you—memoirs, novels, plays, picture books. or poems, today is the day. The hour is at hand. It’s time to transform procrastination into productivity, possibilities, and publishing by adding that key “F” word: FUN! This informative, past-paced session will arm you with seven key secrets to not just surviving but thriving in your writer’s life. Recommended reading: The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield.

Up Close and Personal: Achieving Intimacy w/ Deep POV, Heather Luby

Point of view isn’t just an element of storytelling—it is the foundation of any captivating story. Diving into a Deep POV and utilizing the tools of narrative voice is how we thrust our readers into the minds of our characters and push them into the fictional dream. In this fast paced, hands-on session, you will learn the key elements necessary to write immersive, voice driven prose. Come prepared to learn how character, dialogue, and voice work in tandem to leave your reader emotionally spellbound. It is recommended you bring a sample chapter of your own work for hands-on learning.

In Other Words: How to Destroy Writer’s Block Forever, Marshall Cook

Writer’s block: When your invisible friends stop talking to you. Words are the pebbles we use to build our cathedrals or cabanas, strip malls or skyscrapers. You can’t even think it, let alone write it, if you don’t have the words for it. We won’t talk about creativity. We’ll do creativity. And oh what games we’ll play. Some of the possibilities: Make a word from scratch: Part One: The Chinese menu game; Make a word from scratch: Part Two: It should be a word but isn’t (yet); Just for the sound of it: class poem. Daffynitions: other possible definitions for common words; Go anagram yourself (Adolph Hitler anagrams to Hatred For All); Climbing the word ladder; What’s the difference?; Whassit?; Word riddles; The song collaboration game; Inflection detection; Plus seven lab-tested kickstarters for when you’re stuck, and time for your specific questions.

On Creating Suspense, Tim Storm

We all know that suspense is one of the main motivators for readers to keep reading, but how does suspense work exactly? What are the main drivers behind suspense and what kinds of suspense can you create for your stories? This class will give you an abundance of ways to create suspense.

On Developing Character Arc, Tim Storm

The corollary to the external plot’s various plot points and acts and whatnot, character arc traces the internal evolution of the main character over the course of your novel. This session will explore the imperatives of character arc and will give tips on how to make sure it escalates and results in a satisfying resolution that is true to character and reveals theme.

How Turning Points Propel Plot, Angela Rydell

Key events on your protagonist’s journey kick plot into high gear. Each arrives at a different point in the timeline—whether inciting incident, midpoint or climax—but all are made of the same stuff: high stakes, profound pressure, new direction, and irrevocable change. Major turning points don’t just accelerate external action, they fuel plot from within, testing your protagonist’s beliefs and morals, and driving difficult choices. Those choices must be so profound your protagonist is forced to abandon the familiar and enter the unknown. Dissecting the anatomy of a turning point will help you identify which scenes matter most, and which end up on the cutting room floor. Through discussion and analysis of established writer’s work, you’ll take home tips for propelling your novel’s plot all the way to the bittersweet end.

How to Be Professional Even Before You’re a Published Author, Cheryl Woodson

This session will help you develop and commit to a relevant writing schedule, recognize the characteristics of a useful critique group, through a discussion of the 5 Cs of Writing Excellence: Commitment, Consistency, Creativity, Craft, Critique. Plus additional helpful writing resources and tools from a professional and a published author.

Research Skills for the Novelist, Kristin Oakley

Research? But I write fiction! Can’t I just make this stuff up? Yes, but your novel has to be grounded in fact to make it plausible. Lack of plausibility is one of the main reasons agents, publishers, and readers reject a book. Novels that are well-researched are not only realistic, they’re entertaining and enlightening. In this workshop we’ll discuss when and how to conduct research, how much research is enough or too much, and how to integrate your research into your manuscript.

Reading and Writing Crime Scenes: Dan Román

We will examine a set of actual crime scene photos (caveat: these are very graphic images) and review the basic details given to the officers that responded to the call. As we conduct a walk-through of the scene we will collect the information we need to determine whether a crime was committed. Attendees can propose questions as to what they see in the images and how to convey that in a text, or discuss police procedures and how “on scene” decisions are made.

Vivid and Continuous: How to Make Your Prose Come Alive, Michelle Wildgen and Susanna Daniels

Susanna and Michelle will lead the class in selected readings, discussion, and in-class exercises designed to demonstrate how to use scenework, setting, POV, and more, in service of creating lively, engaging prose and a world that fully immerses the reader.

On Writing Groups and Writing Critiques, Christopher Chambers

Tired of toiling alone in the cold? Learn effective ways to start and facilitate a writing group that works, and how to write manuscript critiques that offer useful feedback and help you develop critical reading skills that you can apply to revising your own writing.

The Endgame of the Novel: A Sense of Resolution, Ian Gaham Leask

The two parts of a novel that get best remembered are the beginning and end. Of the two, endings are the most important; your novel’s conclusive exposition should choreograph what you meant to say on an emotional and subtextual level. Getting an ending right leaves readers breathless, but how to finish is also the most difficult phase of the art of fiction. To study an ending you have to read the whole novel—and read it well—with eyebrows up. Participants are invited to briefly present endings they have written.


Escalations, Digressions, & Obsessions: How To Add Depth, Texture, and Suspense to Your Work-in-Progress, Alissa Nutting & Dean Bakopoulos

Sessions subject to change. Check back for up-to-date information.