October 26-28, 2018 | Pasadena, CA

Writer’s Digest Novel Writing Conference Schedule

Customize your experience by mixing and matching options from the following instructional tracks: Craft, Character, Genre, and Beyond. Four sessions will be offered in every time slot!

We’re putting the finishing touches on what we expect to be our best program yet. Check back often, and be sure to sign up for the Writer’s Digest Novel Writing Conference e-newsletter for session and speaker updates!


Craft & Character

Craft & Character

Honing your craft should be a lifelong pursuit for every writer. Work on the fundamentals, or learn new techniques to keep your writing fresh.
Inspiration & Idea Generation

Inspiration & Idea Generation

Roll up your sleeves and dig in with hands-on, experiential sessions that will help you generate ideas, get motivated and work through sticky spots in your novel.


Sharpen your skills in exciting sessions geared exclusively toward writers of genre fiction. Hook fans of romance, science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, and more, and they’ll be among your most loyal readers.
Platform, Business & Beyond

Platform, Business & Beyond

What happens once your novel is ready for readers? This track takes you step-by-step from revision to publication to promotion and more.


8:00 AM – 5:00 PM Registration
9:00 AM – 5:00 PM Mastering Suspense, Structure, & Plot Jane K. Cleland



  Craft/Character Inspiration Genre Platform, Business & Beyond
8:00 AM – 6:00 PM Registration & Exhibits
9:00 AM – 10:00 AM Compelling Characters Arcs
Adrienne Bell
FightWrite: What You Need to Know Before Writing Fight Scenes, Battles and Brawls
Carla Hoch
Why YA? What Young Adult Is, Isn’t, and Why You Should Write It (or not)
GS Prendergast
Self-Publishing 101: The Ultimate Guide on Turning Your Manuscript Into a Published Success
Justine Bylo
10:15 AM – 11:15 AM Ten Ways To Create Compelling Characters (Even Unlikable Ones!)
April Eberhardt
Overcome Writer’s Block and Release Your Inner Muse
Jane K. Cleland
  Finances for Writers
Sophie Littefield and Rachael Herron
11:30 AM – 12:30 PM Mastering Plot, Action, and Pace with Stacked Funnels
Adrienne Bell
Jump-Start Your Story: Creative Prompts and Hands-On Writing Exercises from 98 Years of Writer’s Digest
Jess Zafarris
FightWrite: From Tactical to Practical — Understanding the Mechanics of Fight Scenes
Carla Hoch
Query Letter Panel
Barbara Poelle, Laurie McLean, Holly Root, and Taylor Haggerty
12:30 PM – 1:45 PM Lunch on your own
1:45 PM – 2:45 PM A Structural Perspective on Story Development
Larry Brooks
Debut Author Panel Everything You Wanted to Know About Writing Sex Scenes (No Matter your Genre!)
Sophie Littlefield, Rachael Herron and Adrienne Bell 
Take Your Work From Good to Great: Why Hire an Editor, When You Should Do It, and What You Can Expect
Jennie Nash

3:00 PM – 4:00 PM A Recipe For Disaster: The Four High Stakes Elements Every Character Needs
Jordan Rosenfeld
How to Listen to Your Muse
William Kenower 
The Art of Distraction: Using Red Herrings
Jane K. Cleland
Agent Secrets
Fuse Literary partner Laurie McLean
4:15 – 5:15 PM Opening Keynote: Robert Crais
5:30 – 6:30 PM Book Signing



  Craft/Character Inspiration Genre Platform, Business & Beyond
8:00 AM – 6:00 PM Registration & Exhibits
9:00 – 10:00 AM The Secret of Mission-Critical Storytelling
Larry Brooks
13 Hardwired Expectations Every Reader Has for Every Story and How to Meet Them
Lisa Cron
How to Keep Thriller Readers Turning Pages
James Scott Bell 
10 Best Ways to Market Your Book
Laurie McLean
10:15 – 11:15 AM Enrich Your Characters with Real-Life Experiences
Rachel Howzell Hall
Writing as a Way to Heal
John DeDakis
Putting the Me in Chimera! Writing in Multiple Genres
Barbara Poelle and Sophie Littlefield 
The Changing Face of Publishing: What All Authors Need To Know
April Eberhardt
11:30 AM – 12:30 PM Enrich Your Writing with Vivid Imagery
Jordan Rosenfeld
How To Give a Killer Keynote
William Kenower 
Delving in the Past
Erika Mailman
Finally – Make Revision FUN
Rachael Herron
12:30 PM – 1:45 PM Lunch on your own / Exhibits
1:45 PM – 2:45 PM Write Your Novel From The Middle James Scott Bell The Anatomy of a Scene
Lisa Cron
Domestic Suspense – Blood Runs in the Family
Sophie Littlefield and Rachael Herron 
Research: Writing What You Don’t Know
John DeDakis
3:00 PM – 4:00 PM Writing Great Dialogue Mark Spencer The 7 Elements of a Viable Story Idea Erik Bork Young Adult/Middle-Grade Panel Kristen Kittscher, Isabel Quintero Flores What to Expect When You’re Expecting…a Publishing Career
Barbara Poelle
4:15 PM – 5:15 PM Finding the Emotional Heartbeat of your Characters
Désirée Zamorano
What’s the Big Idea?
Tyler Moss

Writing Scary
Philip Athans

Everybody Says My Book Should Be a Movie
Danny Manus 
5:30 – 6:30 PM Central Keynote: Curtis Sittenfeld
6:30 – 8:00 PM Halloween Themed Reception and Book Signing



  Craft/Character Inspiration Genre Platform, Business & Beyond
8:00 AM – 1:00 PM Registration & Exhibits
9:00 am – 10:00 am Closing Keynote: Nicola Yoon
10:00 am – 10:30 am Book Signing – Nicola Yoon
10:30 am – 11:30 am Read Like a Writer
Mark Spencer
Finding the Right POV and Tense for your Character’s Voice
GS Prendergast
Writing Mental Health in Fiction
Kathleen Allen 
Act of Villainy: Breathing life Into Your Antagonist
Philip Athans