2018 Intensive Classes

These classes last for two hours and cost an additional $5 each.

Jessica Brody – Save The Cat! Writes a Novel

In this unique and engaging presentation, Jessica will guide authors through the steps of using Blake Snyder’s SAVE THE CAT!®  story structure method to create engaging stories, compelling character arcs, and unputdownable novels. A majority of the presentation will focus on breaking down the heart of the SAVE THE CAT!®  methodology: the “Blake Snyder Beat Sheet”. These 15 “beats” (or plot points) are the key ingredients that make up ANY successful story and that no good novel should be without.  Through examples from popular novels, films, and her own books, Jessica will demonstrate how the 15 beats can be used to turn a new story idea into a full-length, compelling book outline, help you crack your most recent rewrite, fix broken plotlines, or jumpstart you out of the dreaded writer’s block.


Dan Wells – Crafting Killer First Chapters

Details coming soon.

Becca Puglisi – Using Character Emotion to Wow Readers

All successful novels, no matter what genre, have one thing in common: emotion. It lies at the core of every character’s decision, action, and word, all of which drive the story. Yet authors consistently struggle with how to convey character emotion effectively. Melodrama, clichéd writing, and too much telling create a disconnect between the reader and the characters on the page. Using Character Emotion to Wow Readers will show writers how to draw readers in by creating a reader-character connection. Based on the techniques offered in The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression, attendees will be given the opportunity to write short emotional passages for maximum impact. By the presentation’s end, writers will have learned some practical techniques for conveying emotion that can be applied to any genre of fiction writing.

Becca Wilhite – (Beginner’s Intensive) Pick up the Pen: Beginning the Writing Journey

So, you want to write. Now what? Dive in. Whether you know exactly what you want to start writing about or you’re simply feeling that vague itch in your fingers, come learn tips, tricks, suggestions, and ideas for fearless writing. This intensive will have you writing–today–in several genres, dipping your toes into the pools of poetry, nonfiction, short story, setting, dialog, and characterization, all of which will give you tools with which to move on in the direction that feels right to you. 


2017 Intensive Classes

Marc Cameron – From Start to Finish

How do you move from an idea to a finished project? In a class that will cover strategies for new authors as well as seasoned pros, we’ll discuss:

  •  Pre-writing research and techniques that will help keep your story focused
  • Tools to keep track of multi-layered plots and how they add tension
  • Ideas to keep track of logistics in both series and stand alone projects

Ally Condie – If you Built It, They will Come: Making Setting Work for Your Characters and Your Readers 

Setting gives context, grounding, and dimension to your story. It can be as important as a character; it brings your reader in and establishes a place and time both connected to others and uniquely belonging to your work. How do you keep it strong without letting it overwhelm your novel? What are the ways setting informs plot and character (and vice versa)? Whether you’re writing speculative, contemporary, or historical fiction (or something in between), we’ll look at settings in our own work and those of others and think about how we can answer these questions and others regarding our own works-in-progress.

David Gill – Say What? The Talking Two-Step of Dueling Dialogue

Great dialogue does several things at once:  It moves the plot ahead; it raises and adds complications; it amps up tension and provides comedic relief; and it reveals character—all at the same time while sounding perfectly natural, even though there’s nothing natural about it. We will learn about techniques for writing great dialogue, practice advanced techniques with hands-on activities, and even learn a little linguistic theory while we’re at it.

J. Scott Savage – Creating Powerful Scenes

Imagine each scene of your book as a cube. Inside the cube, you have the basics: Who is doing what, where, and why are they doing it? Now, divide that cube into a series of layers.Characters: What do they notice? Why? Are they testing or questioning something they believe? What is the prism they see the world through? World: What is invisible and visible to the characters in the story? How can I world build without slowing the pace? What was the story flow before the scene started? Moving the story forward. Engaging the reader.Creating tension. Each of these interlocking layers makes your scene more powerful, and if you don’t have enough layers it may be a sign you need to cut the scene. In this two hour intensive, we will learn how to dissect a scene into each of its individual pieces and reassemble the pieces into powerful story elements which are key to your story.

J. Scott Savage – Four Part Pacing

 Since he first developed it for a writing group at WIFYR, Scott’s Four Part Pacing system has helped hundreds of writers solidify their storylines and tighten the pace of the plots. Unlike plotting tools which tell you what should happen, Four Part Pacing is designed to tell you when key story elements should happen and how they tie together. Scott has taught an abbreviated version of this class before, but this intensive will go into much greater detail on each section with examples, specific instructions on dos and don’ts, and a chance to discuss some of your own story elements. Come prepared with a notebook and an existing story you are working on because we will be doing some team work as well. This is a tool you can use all the way from initial outlining to creating a synopsis.

Kristen Tracy – How to Deepen Your Characters: Creating a Character Sheet

Building authentic characters is essential to writing a good book. Some writers intuitively know, through multiple rounds of revision, how to create well-grounded characters. Others guess at it until they get it right. In this class, I’ll share with you everything I know about deepening your characters. I’ll guide you through a checklist to gain insight quickly into both your main and secondary characters. Often, you end up knowing your characters much better after their journey is over and the novel is finished. This checklist will help you gain practical knowledge faster into every aspect of your character. In turn, this will help you strengthen dialogue and scenes. No matter where you are in the process of writing your novel, you’ll walk away with important tools for refining your novel’s entire cast.

“Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.”

Virginia Woolf