Plot and Character Arcs


Is your plot flat, lifeless or stuck? Are your characters stagnant? With a 4:1 student-teacher ratio, this workshop will teach attendees how plot and character arc interweave to create the most compelling stories. Mentors will help participants identify where weaknesses in plot can be shored up by character arc and how plot can create a framework to support and enhance character growth. Prior to the conference, each attendee will receive a questionnaire and be asked to turn in a two-page synopsis so that discussion time can be used to its fullest.

MENTORS: Caitlyn McFarland–lead mentor, Charlie Holmberg, Lisa Mangum, Steven Bohls, Jennifer Nielsen, Mercedes Yardley, Melanie Jacobson, Emily King, Caitlin Sangster, Nicole Castroman

Please note that due to the volume of emails we send and receive, we are no longer emailing initial instructions for this workshop. This is your welcome letter.


Dear Plot & Character Arc 2018 Participants,

We are so excited to have you in this workshop! You will be spending your session (either 12:00-2:45 or 3:15-6:00) in a group with one highly qualified mentor and two fellow attendees.

The purpose of this workshop is for each student to have the opportunity to talk to a mentor about a specific writing project. Your mentor will walk you through how plot and character arc can intertwine to create a stronger story. To participate, students will need to complete an in-depth questionnaire about their plot and character arcs, as well as a 1-2 page synopsis. This workshop is specifically for projects that are:

  1. finished but not selling.
  2. mostly complete, but with a few holes or sagging spots.
  3. thoroughly conceptualized or outlined (meaning the writer is familiar enough with their plot and characters to answer extensive questions).

Note: If you do not turn in these things, your mentor will not be able to prepare to discuss your story, and will not be able to utilize time to the fullest.

Workshop day instructions: When you get there, check in at registration. You’ll be directed to a room where you’ll find a table with your mentor’s name. If you’ve forgotten your mentor’s name–don’t worry, we’ll have that information for you.

During the workshop, you will give input on your fellow attendees’ stories as your mentor requests. Please do participate, but remember to be respectful of everyone’s time so that all get turns to speak. When the mentor moves to the next participant, the discussion of your own story will be closed, and all focus will move to the next attendee.

These workshops are said by many to be their favorite part of the conference! If you have never been to one before, prepare to have a great time, meet new friends, maybe find new critique partners, and get expert advice from one of our fantastic author mentors. If you’re staying for both workshop times, we’ll be providing a snack between sessions.

If you have any other questions, please let us know at We can’t wait to see you for Plot and Character Arcs!



The Plot and Character Arcs Team


  1. Your “My Plot and Character Arcs” questionnaire will be emailed to you by Thursday, March 22nd. Please complete your questionnaire and email it to your mentor on or by Thursday, April 12.
  2. Complete a 1-2 page synopsis of your work in progress. Due to your mentor on or by Thursday, April 12.
  3. You will receive your mentor and group assignment by Thursday, April 19th.