Plot, Setting, Scene: Building a Strong Foundation for Your Novel
Stories might be about characters, but those characters need things to do and places to do them in. Creating a compelling plot with strong conflicts played out in an interesting setting is half of writing a great novel, and the foundation for your entire story. In this workshop, writers will learn how to use internal and external conflicts to plot, and how to tell if they need a character arc or not. They’ll also learn tricks to bring their setting to life, discover how to background details to enhance the setting and show, or tell, their story world. And finally, they’ll dig deep into the mechanics of scene and its troublesome partner, the sequel, and learn how to use this pairing to drive the story and create plots (and novels) readers won’t be able to walk away from. This workshop is packed full of exercises, so bring your laptop and pages.
First Page Essentials And Critiques
When a reader opens your story, you have only a few precious pages to capture their imaginations and transport them into the world and characters you’ve created. To do that, you need a stellar first page.
What you’ll learn:
• Why character is more important than plot
• The difference between starting with conflict vs starting with crisis
• What makes a great first sentence
• The important factors of a good first page
• Tools learned here will advance your craft of writing in general
You will have the opportunity to submit your first page, some of which will be used to demonstrate the concepts taught in class. Laura will get to as many as possible in class, but even if your first page isn’t chosen, you’ll be able to learn from others. And everyone who submits will receive a critiqued first page at the end of class to take with you.
You’ve got your first draft done or almost done. Or maybe you’re on your second, third, or LAST revision and you’re working toward the finish line. You’re ready for REVISION BOOTCAMP.
SIZE Does Matter –Writing Fiction Across the Lengths
As any writer knows, size (as in word count!) does matter and each length of general and especially genre fiction has its own challenges and appeals to writers and readers. Plotting, characterization and the core story elements all need to be downsized when writing shorter-length fiction – or do they? Terri will discuss those challenges and offer tips on how to write compelling short stories, novellas and novels. (For writers at all levels.)
Motivation for Writers – Getting in Gear to Write
Motivation is what gets us going. It increases our momentum from a static position towards something we want. It is personal. Discovering it is wonderful — not recognizing it can be devastating. Terri conducts an interactive workshop to help writers discover their writing style, their writing priorities and goals, and to organize their strategies to achieve their writing or life goals. (For writers at all levels).
The Truth – About Writing Life and Money
Are you wondering what career path to follow, Indy or Traditional? Want to know how much money authors really make, but Google shows you a dozen different numbers? Confused about how much to invest when promoting your novel, on skill development, or making an audiobook? Do you feel like you spend hours on your writing career but don’t get anywhere? Experienced, happy, bestselling author Kathleen Baldwin has answers and wants to help.
In addition, we will cover:
- The hidden reasons why you write. You may think you know, but the truth is tucked away deep in your psyche. Kathleen will help you dig to find out what lies beneath. This is essential information for new writers and equally crucial for experienced writers, who may be burning themselves out chasing the wrong dream. Knowing your true inner motivations determines what path is best for your writing business.
- What does it really take to be a successful author? How many hats must a writer wear?
- Maintain balance in your writing life. Kathleen will discuss a holistic approach, with multiple real-life examples of how to focus and write through life’s challenges.
- Take a clear look at the differences between Traditionally Published versus Independently Published versus Hybrid authorship—the demands, the pitfalls, the perks of each, and the financial rewards. And which path is best for you based on your motivation for writing.
- A candid look at money. Are your expectations in line with reality? Recent trends and financial data regarding writing incomes and publishing in general. Ignore misinformation: both the false hype and negative Nellies are misleading. Instead, check out reliable data and facts.
- How much time do you really need? Should you write full-time or part-time? And how to flourish either way.
- Writing sideshows: how and where you can make extra cash as an author.
Scene & Sequel—Plotting SUPER POWER
- Do you want your next book to be optioned for film or TV?
- Does your book pack a powerful emotional punch?
- Want to eliminate sagging middles?
- Is your plot dilly-dallying on an escalator? Or strapped to a thrilling roller coaster?
- Never write a dull scene again
- Power Up Your Scenes Using Dwight Swain’s Bestselling
- Scene & Sequel Technique
Rev up your plot engine with Scene & Sequel—kick reader emotions into high gear and keep your fans turning the pages. Professor Dwight Swain discovered the Scene & Sequel concept after spending decades studying which elements made certain books and movies into blockbusters. He and his student and fellow professor, Jack Bickham, wrote over a hundred successful novels, and several were made into blockbuster films. They guided hundreds of other writers to bestselling fame: Tony Hillerman, Ross Thomas, Ken Follett, and Jim Butcher, to name only a few.
Scene & Sequel is a SUPER Powered tool!
But it can be challenging to grasp. And even tougher to put into action. Good news! Kathleen developed an EASY TO UNDERSTAND method. She distilled the process, and will give you cheat sheets and examples. She’ll show you how to apply the power of Scene and Sequel to your current manuscript. Scene & Sequel works! To date Kathleen has had more than eight producers, screenwriters and directors, vying for options on her latest series, A School for Unusual Girls. She signed an option with Ian Bryce, producer of Spiderman, Transformers, Saving Private Ryan, and other notable films.
Ways To Wake the Story That Slumbers Inside
Tell me a story—Pat Conroy considered these the most important words in the English language. Storytelling is central to human existence. Writers write to give structure and meaning to the randomness of life; readers read to escape the ordinary and to brace against the unknown. Writer and reader communicate in the magical place called story. How does this communication work? How do writers employ the fundamentals of storytelling—story, plot, point of view, character, conflict, setting, and narrative voice—to craft a vague idea into a story that touches readers the world over? How do writers guide the reader through their imagined world? Using quotes from established writers (Maya Angelou, E. M. Forster, Sue Monk Kidd, Stephen King, and others) as touchstones, this session will offer strategies that breathe life into the story that slumbers inside.
The Texture of Urgency
Urgency is not unique to thrillers and not always a function of a fast pace. Urgency drives all fiction, and even a slow-moving passage can have you at the edge of your seat. Urgency may sit deep inside the subtext of a scene, manifest in a character’s motivation, or show in the ambiance of a setting. In fact, urgency is the very fabric of your novel. It is what engages readers in your plot and makes them care about your characters’ plight. So, how do you create that sense of urgency?
This session with editor Helga Schier talks about the underlying storytelling strategies such as cliffhangers, smart cuts, masking and unmasking information, about creating ambiance and the art of the crawl, about tracing clues, pacing and racing to the end. Attendees will learn to look at their writing as a means to take the reader on an (emotional) journey to arrive precisely at the destination the writer intended. Attendees will walk away with tangible tips for creating the forward momentum any novel of any genre needs to be un-put-downable.
Failure to Launch
Have you ever spent a year or two or ten writing a book, and then let it sit on your hard drive or in your drawer without ever sending it out? Have you ever gotten halfway through a book and then got bored or frustrated and started another? Do you routinely choose not to pitch at a conference, even though you’ve finished four novels? If so, you’re not alone. Many writers love to write but struggle to finish or submit their work. In this workshop, William Kenower, author of Everyone Has What It Takes: A Writer’s Guide to the End of Self-Doubt, offers advice and exercises to help writers of all genres and experience levels get out of their own way and share their work.
Fearless Writing Description
Learning the craft is only the beginning of a writer’s journey. After your story is told you must share your work with friends, classmates, agents, editors, and readers. This is what we call being an author, and it is what beginning and experienced writers alike find most challenging in their working lives. Based on his popular book Fearless Writing: How To Create Boldly and Everyone Has What It Takes: A Writer’s Guide to the End of Self-Doubt, Kenower leads a guided roundtable discussion where participants can talk candidly about the real barriers to writing success – questions of voice, intelligence, time, money, and talent.
Rhythm and Scene in Memoir
You’ve got all the raw material you need to write a memoir: your memories experiences and insights. But how do you weave them together to create a powerful and engrossing read? The key is to move seamlessly from specific moments to general significance and back again, striking an artful balance between scene, summary, and exposition. In this session, we’ll look at excerpts from published memoirs to discover how authors manage to pull off this feat and you’ll have a chance to try it yourself. Along the way, we’ll explore topics like narrative distance, transitions, dialogue, description, and more.
Finding the Plot of Your Memoir
A memoir is more than just a collection of anecdotes. Like a novel, it needs a narrative arc that takes the reader on a journey and keeps them turning pages. The trick is figuring out how to create that arc without straying too far from the truth. In this session, we’ll talk about how to give your memoir a compelling “plot,” complete with stakes, conflict, and a satisfying resolution. You’ll have the chance to try out a few different strategies, and hopefully come away with a better sense of your memoir’s narrative structure.
Mastering Plot Twists
The stories that keep people on the edge of their seats and up all night are filled with unexpected twists and turns. By integrating plot Twists, plot Reversals, and moments of heightened Danger (TRDs) at tactically sound moments, your stories will captivate readers with their I-can’t-wait-to-see-what-happens-next unpredictability. When your plot twists come at the right moments, your pace will be quicker and the action more focused, and these are the nuanced, multifaceted books that sell, and that find a devoted readership.
The Art of Distraction: Using Red Herrings
One of the secrets of mystery writing success is creating complex and surprising plots, and one of the secrets of creating complex and surprising plots is a deliciously sneaky technique designed to befuddle readers–red herrings. By using red herrings the same way that a magician uses sleight of hand, you’ll be able to divert your reader’s attention from the actual to the illusionary, if done well, your readers will believe what they see on the printed page–an irresistible way to draw them in and keep them turning pages.
Keys to Inspirational Writing: Using Conflict and Vulnerability to Create Books that Encourage and Give Hope
Give your books the WOW factor! Where to find stories that connect with top felt needs. Gain secrets from best selling authors who touch millions using their writing crafts to go beyond informing and entertaining. Inspire your readers to focus on possibilities and growth.
Life Mapping for Writers: Using Your Personal Stories to Connect With Your Readers
Your past is a treasure field for stories. But many new writers eagerly come to a writer’s conference falsely thinking that publishers can’t wait to buy their detailed autobiography or memoir. Avoid common newbie mistakes. Learn how to weave your life experiences in to your books while actively engaging your readers to keep turning the page. Become an authentic writer people besides you mom and closest friends will want to read.
The Brand Called You: Personal & Professional Branding for Authors
You’ve written your WIP.. now it’s time to write your author brand story! With every online touchpoint and offline interaction, your author brand is being formed. Be intentional! Decide upfront what author brand story you want to tell. Branding is both how you present your books to the public and yourself as a writer. Aside from the obvious benefits to marketing your books and engaging with readers, developing an effective author brand can be an incredibly satisfying and creative endeavor. It requires that you dig deep and define who you are, why you write, what you write, and who you write for. Through interactive exercises and examples, learn how to identify your brand and why it’s essential to incorporate into your writing career. Discover how to showcase your Brand Stands – including visual, auditory, print, and online – and which are the best match for you. Identify your ideal readers and how to be strategic about which social media channels to use and how to create content. Create your Author Brand Impact Plan to best position yourself for a successful future writing career.
The Power of the Author Website and Newsletter: Building Your Online Hub and Subscriber List
One of the most powerful and versatile tools in an author’s platform-building arsenal is the website and mailing list or newsletter, which provides an opportunity to continuously and consistently connect with your readers. In this practical webinar, you’ll learn tips and strategies including why, when, and how to launch a website and newsletter, what to showcase and include, and how to grow subscribers. Lisa Montanaro will take you through the process step-by-step, sharing valuable insights gleaned from coaching her writer/author and entrepreneur clients, as well as her own experience having multiple websites and newsletters over the years.