WRITER'S DIGEST NOVEL WRITING CONFERENCE

Customize your experience by mixing-and-matching options from different instructional tracks. Four sessions will be offered in every time slot! Build the perfect weekend while you build the perfect book

Friday and Saturday tracks include:

  • Craft
  •  Storytelling
  •  Character  
  • Genre Studies

And on Sunday, we shift tracks to help you prepare for next steps:

  • Craft
  • Getting An Agent
  • Getting Published
  • Revision
 

Thursday, October 27


9:00 am -4:30 pm The Well-Sold Story Intensive With author, writing teacher, and editor-turned literary agent Paula Munier as your guide, you’ll learn the secrets to telling and selling your stories in this hands-on, interactive intensive devoted to the art and science of publishing your work. Paula Munier

Friday, October 28

  Craft Storytelling  Character Genre Studies
9:00 – 10:00   Beginnings: How to Craft Story Openings That Sell In this one-of-a-kind session, agent and author Paula Munier reveals the secrets of a great opening—from word one to plot point one. Paula Munier

A Stronger Outline for a Stronger Story During this session, Gabriela will teach you how to create a strong, flexible outline that's custom-designed for your style, your process, and your story. You'll leave knowing how to use your outline to perfect your plot, deepen your characters, and guide your story from draft to done.
Gabriela Pereira

Bringing Characters to Life Through DialogueJoin authors Jon Harrison and Catherine McKenzie for a workshop on crafting tight, narrative-propelling dialogue. Jon Harrison, Catherine McKenzie  Adapting Novels for the Screen: From Writer's Isolation to Producer's CollaborationIn this one-hour session, he will discuss the myth of what producers are looking for, the pitfalls of adapting one's own book into a screenplay or teleplay, as Joel Eisenberg well as the immense rewards if successful, and how to be retained on a project when producers offer a buy-out. Joel Eisenberg
10:15-11:15 Setting is Not a Backdrop This session details methods for making readers feel as though they are in the moment. You'll learn how to bring a setting to life, avoid the pitfalls of backstory and details, and create authenticity. Cheryl St. John Write Your Novel From the Middle: A Powerful New Approach for Plotters, Pantsers, and Everyone in Between This workshop will teach you a unique method for crafting a powerful, unified novel by way of the "mirror moment"—a crucial beat that happens right in the middle of great and enduring stories.James Scott Bell

The Topography of Character What is your character’s terrain? How does he or she respond to that terrain? With insights into human nature and psychology, this session gives you a fresh perspective on character creation and evolution. Therese Walsh

Getting to the Heart of Women's Fiction In this workshop, we will discuss the definition of women’s fiction and the many subgenres that fall under its umbrella. We will talk about what makes a women’s fiction novel work, using examples from well-known authors. Janis Thomas
11:30-12:30

It’s All A Matter of Perspective: Writing from Multiple Points of View his workshop will cover specific, practical advice on the ins and outs of using multiple POV characters to tell a story, whether or not it’s the right fit for a story, and detailed tips on how to make the structure work to the best possible result.   Aimie K. Runyan

An Intuitive Approach to Story StructureThis workshop provides the link between the organic “story sense” you already possess and the mechanics of structure. Deb Norton

The Machinery of Desire: Using Your Characters' Innermost Desires to Drive Your StoryIn this class, New York Times notable novelist David Corbett shares how to use your characters' yearnings to put all the right parts of your story in motion, and drive it forward with tension and momentum toward a satisfying conclusion. David Corbett

 

Exploring Science Fiction and FantasyJoin former Wizards of the Coast senior managing editor and New York Times best-selling author Philip Athans for a spirited Q&A session for aspiring writers, with advice from his books The Guide to Writing Fantasy & Science Fiction  and Writing Monsters. Philip Athans

12:30-1:45 Lunch Provided
1:45-2:45

The Process of the ProcessThis panel takes you beyond the old "plotting versus pantsing" debate in lieu of a much deeper exploration of the variety of processes for drafting a novel. Heather Webb, Margaret Dilloway, Barbara O'Neal, Therese Walsh

Breaking Down the Story BeatsThe focus of this session is on analyzing stories and identifying key plot points and their timing to show that all good stories have the same “beats” and they typically happen around the same time.By the end, you will be able to identify gaps in your story, see why some scenes work well, and know what to do to move your story forward. Ara Grigorian

Antagonists and Antiheroes: 6 Ways to Make the Bad BetterIf an antagonist is not fully realized, lacks depth, or is a caricature of evil, your novel or story suffers. This session offers six techniques for transforming an antagonist from a one-dimensional paper doll into a force to be reckoned with--and remembered. Laura DiSilverio

Writing Riveting New Adult Fiction Learn essential strategies and techniques for turning a clever concept into a top-notch novel that reflects the new adult experience, mind-set, and voice. Deborah Halverson

3:00-4:00

 

 

Keep the Pages Turning: The Art of PacingIn this session, unlock the mystery of perfect pacing within a scene--whether it be brisk or pondering--as well as within the trajectory of the novel as a whole. Heather Webb

 Finding and Enhancing the Story ArcWe will learn how to strengthen the theme by balancing the story flow with the “love” element in your story, whether it’s a love story or a thriller. Next, we will turn our attention to the details — crystalizing goal and theme, and evaluating the story arc to assure a powerful, exciting, well thought-out story. Ara Grigorian Plotting From CharacterFind out how to drive a strong plot with your characters firmly at the wheel in this workshop from a longtime character-plotter.
Barbara O'Neal

 

The Character of Crime: Creating the Character Web in Crime, Mystery/Detective And Thriller Fiction  Award-winning crime novelist David Corbett will guide students in exploring the key roles that make crime fiction work. David Corbett

4:15-5:15 Opening Keynote: Garth Stein
5:30-6:30 Book Signing with Garth Stein
6:30-7:30  Author in Progress Book Launch PartyCome for networking, a reading, signings and more!  Each attendee will receive a drink ticket for a complimentary drink of choice. Therese Walsh, Heather Webb, Catherine McKenzie, David Corbett, Porter Anderson, Barbara O'Neal, Margaret Dilloway

 Saturday, October 29


  Craft Storytelling  Character Genre Studies
9:00 – 10:00 Discover Your Distinctive VoiceJoin authors Jon Harrison and Catherine McKenzie for a workshop that explores several examples of unique voices and how you can develop your own. Catherine McKenzie, Jon Harrison
The Most Important Moment in Your Story This session delves into the structural storytelling model to focus on the First Plot Point (also referred to as "The Moment of No Return," the "Call to Action" or "The Inciting Incident.". Larry Brooks

Making Your Setting a CharacterIn this session, learn to make the world of your story a valuable part of your cast, and take the whole ensemble of your novel to the next level. Barbara O'Neal

Crafting a Youthful Narrative Voice and Authentic Dialogue for Young Adult Fiction Learn techniques for creating a narrative sensibility that reflects the way teens think, resulting in a voice that “clicks” with young readers and dialogue that sounds authentic. Deborah Halverson
10:15-11:15 The Secrets of Page-Turning ScenesIn this workshop, you will learn the structure of scenes, how to hook readers at the beginning and prompt them to read on to the end. James Scott Bell

Plot vs. Character: What's Driving Your Story?In this workshop, we will discuss plot-driven and character-driven fiction, beginning with the genres associated with each. Through several examples, writers will learn that the most compelling stories seamlessly integrate character and plot. Janis Thomas

Creating Compelling Characters Through Archetypes This workshop demonstrates how to craft an ensemble cast from basic personality archetypes and provides methods for turning those static figures into absorbing characters. Aimie K. Runyan


Lessons from the Pulps for Writers in Every Genre
What can the classic era of pulp fiction magazines teach the contemporary author? This workshop will cover four of the high points.
Philip Athans
11:30-12:30

Increase the Potency of Your Language In this workshop, prizewinning poet and fiction writer Sage Cohen introduces 10 powerful strategies for bringing poetics to prose—so you can discover new ways to be fierce on the page. . Sage Cohen

Writer Unboxed Panel: Crafting Backstory The team from Writer Unboxed answers questions about an important and often neglected component of story, the backstory. Therese Walsh, Heather Webb, Catherine McKenzie, Barbara O'Neal, Margaret Dilloway, David Corbett, Porter Anderson

When Nice Characters Do Bad Things: How to Keep Your Protagonist Empathetic  In this session, we will discuss how to walk the delicate line of creating realistic protagonists your readers can root for, even when they make bad choices. We'll discuss practical ways to use context to build empathy and assemble a satisfying, engaging character arc. Liz Fenton

For the Love of Romance: Tools and Techniques for Thriving in the Romance Genre
In this session Cheryl St. John, the award-winning author of more than 50 published romance novels, shares her belief that the techniques of good writing are learnable and that success comes not only from talent but from a commitment to learn and persevere. In addition, she will share tips and resources to help you take your romance novel to the next level.
Cheryl St. John

12:30 - 1:15 Lunch Provided

1:15-
2:15

No Pain, No Gain: Putting Conflict to Work in Your StoriesIn this session, Laura DiSilverio provides techniques for increasing conflict in every scene and across the scope of the story or novel with the aid of a five-step process. Laura DiSilverio

Painting a Scene with Dialogue and NarrationIn this session you will explore how the interplay of dialogue and narration creates the atmosphere of a scene; exposes the context and circumstance of the dialogue; reveals the personality and relationship of the dialogue partners; builds the underlying tension, conflict, or motivation; and drives the plot forward. Helga Schier

Getting Intimate with Your Characters: Master Point of View for Dazzling Character Development In this session, Jordan Rosenfeld will discuss key character cues and the emotional layers of each point of view for masterful character development. Jordan Rosenfeld

Not Your Mummy's Historical Fiction: Breathing Life into the PastLearn to select marketable topics, balance story with facts, and infuse narrative with lively details to build a visceral past—complete with proven research tips from a multi-published historical fiction author. Heather Webb

2:30- 
3:30

 

 From Inspiration to Creation of Your Book It is possible to move yourself from inspiration to creation of your book. Learn how to stay inspired and creative from the moment the light bulb goes off all the way through your book release—and beyond. Nina Amir  

Literary Agent Panel: Write an Attention-Grabbing Chapter 1 Stay tuned for more information. Steven Hutson, Patricia Nelson, Susan Finesman, Paula Munier

The Art of Subtext: Writing the Unspeakable This workshop demystifies subtext: what it is, what it does for your story, how to write it effectively, and how to use it as a character discovery tool. Deb Norton The-Secret-Weapons-of-Genre-FictionEvery genre places a high value on drama and character, including the character arc. But genre fiction is about something more, a conceptual proposition that takes us to other places, cultures, and worlds. This workshop shows how certain story essences work to fuel bestsellers and break-in novels alike. Larry Brooks

3:45 - 4:45

NaNoWriMo Pep RallyJoin NaNoWriMo Executive Director Grant Faulkner in this special pep talk, filled with strategies, prompts and inspiration to held you fuel up, gear up, and team up for the Nov. 1 start of National Novel Writing Month. Grant Faulkner The Fourth Quarter: How to Get Your Ending Right In this session, we'll discuss the many pitfalls of the fourth quarter—including pacing, epilogues, character arc, and how to close any gaping loopholes. We'll touch on the challenges of happy endings that maybe aren't so happy, and how to satisfy readers without wrapping your last chapter in a bow.  Liz Fenton NaNoWriMo Pep RallyJoin NaNoWriMo Executive Director Grant Faulkner in this special pep talk, filled with strategies, prompts and inspiration to held you fuel up, gear up, and team up for the Nov. 1 start of National Novel Writing Month. Grant Faulkner Panel: Connecting With Middle-Grade and Young Adult Readers Literary agents who represent MG & YA work join a panel with writers in the genre for a discussion of how to craft effective stories that resonate with these most discriminating of audiences. Patricia Nelson, Margaret Dilloway, Deborah Halverson
5:00-6:00 "The Novelist is the Tortoise, Not the Hare"--How Patience, Persistence, and Curiosity Pay Off. Jane will speak about the idiosyncratic pleasures of the novel as a form for the reader and also for the writer Jane Smiley
6:00-7:30  Halloween-themed Cocktail Reception Meet and mingle during the Halloween-themed Cocktail Reception. Come dressed as your favorite character or literary figure!

 

Sunday, October 30

  Craft Getting an Agent Getting Published Revision
9:00 – 10:00 Scene Stealer: Master the Scene to Build Unforgettable Stories In this session Jordan Rosenfeld demystifys the scene, teaches you how to use different scene types, and teases apart how scenes are built into unforgettable stories. Jordan Rosenfeld What NOT to Say to an AgentNo how matter how good your story, or how awesome your execution, it might not be enough. You still have to sell this thing. Learn what to say—and, more important, what NOT to say—when pitching your book. Steven Hutson Is Self-Publishing Right for You?This workshop explores the pros and cons of traditional and self-publishing, shares the process of self-publishing, provides self-publishing resources and explains pitfalls to avoid. Kerrie Flanagan Reworking your Rewrites- Demystifying the Editing ProcessIn this workshop, you’ll get tips and tricks for creating a re-write process that works for you, enabling you to edit, polish and finish a query-ready manuscript that you can be proud! Whitney Davis
10:15-11:15 The Three Cs: Character, Conflict, and ChangeIn this session you'll discuss these essential elements, chart examples, and then add the setting, the characters' goals, and how the characters' conflict arises from their goals. You'll then put the three Cs into practice with a writing exercise that helps you start a new story. Margaret Dilloway
Literary Agent Panel: Your Novel Submission Questions Answered A trio of top literary agents representing successful novelists today weigh in on query letter dos and don'ts, what they look for in a submission, and how to best position yourself for success. Patricia Nelson, Susan Finesman, Paula Munier


Prepping Yourself and Your Book Idea for Success Based on Nina Amir's book The Author Training Manual, this session teaches you how to determine if your book is not only a great creative idea but also marketable product—a viable business venture.
Nina Amir

Your Secret Weapon for Revision: Welcome to the Master Scene Profile By analyzing each scene using the Master Scene Profile, you can perform a major developmental edit of your novel and create a complete road map that will keep you motivated during that next big revision. Rachel Funk Heller
11:30-12:30 Closing Keynote: Christopher Rice
12:30-1:30 Book Signing with Christopher Rice