Upcoming Events

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September 19, 2019 3-4:15pm ET

Indie Author Marketing and Promotion Strategies

Jane Friedman, Publishing Consultant

Free to Members, Nonmembers $35

Learn how to successfully market your own book without the support of a publisher. This session will look at case studies of authors who’ve done it well, the steps they followed, and how you can build a plan that’s customized for your work and target audience. Topics covered: the basics of leveraging your platform and driving awareness; how to best use Amazon; whether or not to enroll in KDP Select; how to use pricing/discounting as a strategic tool; how to secure early reviews; and more. A recording will be sent out the next business day for those unable to attend live - or for those who want to watch again!

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October 3, 2019 8:30-9:45pm ET

Lost in Pace: Making Sure Your Picture Book Doesn’t Go Off the Rails

Sean McCarthy, Literary Agent

Free to Members, Nonmembers $30

Even with their limited word counts, picture books must tell a fully realized story. In this session, we'll explore how to entice a young reader from opening to final page. We will focus on how a book's high level mechanics-- like character development and transformation, plotting, and structure-- can be used to keep your book on track.

Past Events

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November 2014

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Revealing Character

Frank Flaherty

Professor and former New York Times editor Frank Flaherty shares methods to reveal character Learn More

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January 2015

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Getting your story moving

Frank Flaherty

Pull the oars of your story quickly enough to get your reader excited, slow enough to share the scenery. Learn More

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February 2015

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Critique Advice

Judy Reeves

An interview with writing groups expert Judy Reeves. Learn More

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February 2015

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Critique Groups Panel

Brooke McIntyre

Inked Voices chats with middle grade authors Jen Malone, Gail Nall and Ronni Arno. We talk finding critique groups, giving critique, receiving feedback. And how things have evolved as they've gotten agents and publishers. Learn More

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March 2015

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Revision

Brendan Halpin

Tips for self-editing and giving/getting feedback. Learn More

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June 2015

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Interview with Suzanne Feldman

Suzanne Feldman

Member Suzanne Feldman shares her path, process and advice as an author of science fiction and literary fiction. Learn More

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October 2015

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Putting Words in Their Mouths

Melissa Gardner

Dialogue can make or break a story. Great dialogue does more than convey who said what. It helps convey character, pace a scene, and further plot. Refresh the basics, like dialogue tags and dialogue format. Learn how to use dialogue to move your story forward. Learn More

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October 2015

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Looking Under the Hood at Plot

Brendan Halpin

Join us for our first lecture series. Teacher/author Brendan Halpin discusses key elements of plots. Learn More

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December 2015

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Constructing the World: Internal and External World Building

Emma D. Dryden

Children’s editorial and publishing expert Emma D. Dryden discusses various facets of worldbuilding as we think about our stories. She explores the idea that the world of a story is not just description of place, but is the main character’s interaction with that place and she looks at the ways in which a keenly realized make-up of an exterior world can become an integral part of the make-up of the internal world of our main character and characters. Learn More

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February 2016

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What's the Big Idea?

Frank Flaherty

“No one ever looks at a tree and wonders, ‘Which is the trunk and which are the branches?’” says Frank Flaherty. “That same clarity should hold true for themes, too.” In this 1-hour webinar, non-fiction and journalism expert Frank Flaherty discusses the proper handling of the “big idea” of an article -- its theme. Many overstuff their articles, so that identifying the theme takes some hard detective work. In this lecture, Mr. Flaherty will show that, like the trunk of a tree, theme should be unmistakable. Learn More

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April 2016

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Powerful Objects

Anca Szilágyi

What makes a story pulsate with meaning? How can you keep imagery fresh and ideas and emotions tactile? In this webinar, we’ll discuss the multiple uses of objects in fiction: to develop character, to structure story, and to heighten emotional impact. Participants should read Cynthia Ozick’s short story “The Shawl” (http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1980/05/26/the-shawl) before listening. Writing exercises are incorporated into the lecture. Learn More

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June 2016

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Point-of-View: As Easy as 1st, 2nd, and 3rd

Melissa Gardner

Point-of-view (POV) is all about perspective: who is telling the story and how? In Point-of-View: As Easy as 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, we’ll discuss the basics of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person POV and explore the benefits, limits, and intricacies of each one through examples and exercises. We'll also look at the use of multiple POVs in one piece, when and how the use of multiple POVs is effective, and the challenges associated with this technique. Handouts and a list of resources will be provided. Learn More

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August 2016

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Nailing Voice in Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction

Jen Malone

The legendary editor Ursula Nordstrom, when asked what qualified her to edit books for children, replied, “I am a former child, and I haven’t forgotten a thing.” She was right, of course, but while we can all draw from our own experiences, how do we make sure our stories will speak to today’s kids in tone, language, and relevancy. This workshop will discuss concrete methods to nail those hard-to-match MG and YA voices, the pros and cons of using slang and/or pop culture references, issues relevant and appropriate to these ages, and what content does and doesn't fly in the current marketplace. Some topics will be covered jointly, but time will be also dedicated to discussions of each distinct category and what differentiates young adult from middle grade stories, beyond simply the main character's age. Learn More

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October 2016

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Take Off Your Pants!

Libbie Hawker

Learn a technique for planning and outlining your story before you sit down to write. Libbie Hawker will discuss character flaws and character arc, as well as choosing a plot that complements your character's interior journey. She'll also talk about pacing and theme. Use these techniques to nail your story, and write a better book more quickly. Learn More

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December 2016

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Think Like an Editor: How to Deliver a Critique Like a Pro

Sangeeta Mehta

Even for thick-skinned writers, receiving criticism is rarely easy. But giving criticism can be even more challenging—especially to a writer friend or a member of your critique group. Most writers will insist that they can handle honest feedback, but if you find issues with their plot and pacing, can you express your concerns without crushing any egos? And if you love your critique partner’s story but have no idea why, should you say this at all? Based on her years as an in-house and freelance editor, Sangeeta Mehta provides the essentials on how to deliver constructive criticism. She will cover: *The pros and cons of the “sandwich” technique and the “rule of 3” *The macro vs. the micro critique *How to focus on the craft of writing vs. the business of writing *The difference between suggestive and directive critiquing *The trap of over-critiquing *Getting beyond "I liked it" Providing critiques is an art that can improve with practice. And by developing the ability to constructively critique others’ writing, we can all take our work to the next level. Learn More

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January 2017

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No Mustard on Your Shirt: Spill-Proofing Your Grammar and Style

Tex Thompson

It's a truth every interviewee knows: there's nothing more tragic than missing out on your dream job because the interviewer can't see past the stain on your collar. In this class, we'll tackle the grammar and style mistakes that even experienced writers make, and highlight winning strategies for scrubbing them out of your manuscript. Don't give your reader even one easy reason to toss your work aside: come learn how to put the "pro" in your prose! Learn More

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April 2017

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Conversation with a Draft: Toward a Personalized Theory and Practice of Revision

Catherine Abbey Hodges

What if we were to approach the revision of a poem as a conversation with a draft? After examining several metaphors for the process of revision, we’ll explore some fruitful directions and particulars for such a dialogue. The material for the session will be informed by the ideas of such poets as W. B. Yeats, Jane Hirshfield, and William Stafford. Writing exercises will be incorporated; participants should bring drafts of two or three poems for the exercises. Learn More

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April 2017

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Contemporary Fairy Tales

Anca Szilágyi

Fairy tales offer rich sources of inspiration for writers. We’ll read a short-short story by a contemporary master of the fairy tale, Angela Carter, and explore techniques such as everyday magic, intuitive logic, and archetypes. A writing prompt based on these concepts will give participants the opportunity to put them into practice. The lecture will also include recommendations for further reading and magazines interested in publishing fairy tales. Learn More

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May 2017

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Overcoming Our Negative Thoughts

Rahti Gorfien

Self-doubt can come in many variations: depression, extreme shyness, shame and creative blockages. If we don’t fall into self-doubt, we are free to fail, free to write loudly and free to take the paths towards being read widely. So why don’t we? Come ready to clean your mental house so that all that’s left to stay are the self-identities and imagination that serve you. Learn More

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June 2017

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Marketing Your Book

Andrea Dunlop

As an author, you know you want to get the widest exposure for your book possible, but how can you tackle the many-headed beast that is book marketing? Should you hire outside help or rely on your in-house team? What will it all cost, and what exactly do marketers, publicists, and social media managers do? In this webinar, Atria author and book marketing expert Andrea Dunlop will explain everything you need to know about inner workings of in-house marketing, give a breakdown of the various kinds of professionals you might consider hiring to help, and explain how you can be the best advocate for your own work. Learn More

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July 2017

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Queries: Hook, Line and Slam Dunk

Kris Asselin

When it comes to Querying, there are certain standards that apply universally. However, it is possible to make your query letter stand out from the rest of the slush pile and tailor it to target the agent of your dreams. Get the inside scoop about querying from author and expert queryier, Kristine Asselin. I will talk about queries that work (and why!) and perfecting the elements of your query. Discover what works, what doesn’t work, and when it is okay to “think outside the box”. See examples of real queries that landed an agent and later, a book deal. Be inspired! In this webinar, you won’t hear vague advice—you will get tangible tips to create an effective, concise query letter. Learn More

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August 2017

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Our Voices: A Reading for and by Our Members

Community Members

Listening to fellow writers read their work contributes to a supportive environment in our community, offers inspiration for our own work, and helps the creative process thrive. The reading is open to all members to participate or listen in. Learn More

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September 2017

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Fixing Flabby Fiction: A Closer Look at Narrative Structure

Melissa Gardner

Is your fiction flabby? Prose a bit paunchy? Do your characters wander aimlessly? If so, then join us for a closer look at narrative structure. Narrative structure is more than simply plot, moving characters from Point A to Point Z. In this webinar, we’ll take a closer look at how narrative structure works, how to use structure to increase tension, and how narrative structure can—and should—also reveal and develop character. We’ll explore the 4-stage model of narrative structure by taking a detailed look at William Carlos Williams’ short story “The Use of Force” and we’ll discuss how this looks in a novel by reviewing the narrative structure of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Learn More

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September 2017

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Picture Books in Focus: Structuring Your Picture Books and Nonfiction

Emily Feinberg

In this talk, we will look exclusively at the ways in which picture books (fiction and nonfiction) benefit from a narrower scope and a focused structure. We will go through examples of finished books and works in progress so participants will be able to see some before and after editorial work. Learn More

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November 2017

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Five Ways to Find More Markets for Your Work

Tara Lynne Groth

The writing submission process can be confusing and time-consuming. Whether you’re trying to publish short fiction or personal essays, or write an article, submissions require finding and researching markets, carefully reading the guidelines, and tracking submissions. Streamlining these processes can help carve out more time for writing and make your submission process more efficient. In this session, we’ll review different methods, both online and offline, for discovering literary journals and markets best suited for your writing works. Learn More

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December 2017

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What to Expect From Your Agent

John Cusick

In this talk we'll discuss what to expect from your agent and how to develop and maintain a lasting and productive relationship. What are the best questions to ask before committing to an agent? What role does an agent play in your career? To what degree does your agent participate in edits, sales, and publicity? We'll explore empowering communication strategies as well as how to get the most out of your author-agent relationship. Learn More

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January 2018

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Clean, Clear Writing: Grammar Detox

Tex Thompson

Are you tired of apologizing for your lack of grammar-savvy? Sick of crying in your commas, panicking over prepositions, and second-guessing your sentences? It’s not too late to become a confident writer! Join us as we ditch the sentence diagrams and MLA handbooks to focus exclusively on the grammar issues that are relevant to storytellers of all stripes – in a fun, fearless, fast-paced workshop guaranteed to leave you feeling empowered and inspired! Learn More

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February 2018

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Clean, Clear Writing: Style Cleanse

Tex Thompson

Sure, you know your way around a sentence. It’s just that often they sound too plain-ish, or too same-ish, or you feel like somehow the best parts are getting lost, even though they’re right there on the page. Worried wordsmiths, fret no more! In this deep-diving exploration of the science behind sizzling prose, we’ll equip you with bulletproof strategies for bringing your story-moments to life – one clean, sharp, arresting sentence at a time. Don’t miss out! Learn More

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March 2018

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Being Productive as a Writer

Community Members

The Inked Voices community shares favorite tools and processes for scheduling, tracking and accountability. Join us for this member-led discussion. Would you like to share one of your favorites? Email brooke@inkedvoices.com. Learn More

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March 2018

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The Art & Business of Author Platform

Jane Friedman

For writers who want to see their writing and publishing activity pay off career-wise, then it requires some high-level and strategic thinking about who that writing is meant to reach and who you want to attract over the long term. And it requires some thought about one's platform. Writers are often baffled by platform because it’s seen as a marketing and promotion mindset—antithetical to the artist mindset. However, there is a way to approach platform that isn’t about selling, but rather understanding human behavior (including your own!). You'll learn what it means to have a focused, consistent and meaningful effort over a long period of time, in way that doesn't exhaust you, but leads to finding high-quality readers who love what you do. We’ll discuss metrics that help you make informed and meaningful decisions about how to best spend your time, and what advanced platform building looks like for an established author. Learn More

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April 2018

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Fearless Finishing: Bringing Your Draft from Rough to Ready

Lauren Carter

Do you have unfinished manuscripts fattening your filing cabinet? Or a work-in-progress that you're struggling to complete? Many writers do, but if you don't finish what you start, you can't share your work with a wider audience, enjoy the fulfillment of seeing your story in print, and move on with excitement and optimism to your next creative project. Learn why the revision process can be so difficult and what you can do to balance doubt, fear, boredom and the enticement of other sparkling ideas in order to finally finish. Learn More

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May 2018

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How to Make Your Manuscript Stand Out from the Crowd

Fiona Kenshole

As editors and agents, we see so many manuscripts that are competently written and well plotted - but does yours have the "sparkle factor" that makes it irresistible? In this talk we'll go beyond craft to get to the heart of how to tell the story you need to tell, why your art matters, and how to surprise and delight your readers. We'll look at voice, character, plot and, above all, emotional engagement. Learn More

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June 2018

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Making Friends With Fear (and doubt, and shame, and…)

Shari Caudron

Fear. Shame. Frustration. Doubt. If you’re writing about your own life experiences, you know these emotions well. But instead of trying to banish the anguish that accompanies creative nonfiction work (like that ever works), it’s best to stay on speaking terms with all facets of your inner life. Why? Because that’s where the magic happens. This workshop will introduce you to practices designed to keep you grounded and in touch with your creative spirit, while also minimizing the brain damage associated with memoir and personal essay writing. Whatever your current challenge—rampant self-criticism, procrastination, fear of embarrassment—rest assured. You already possess everything you need to quiet the voices and create your best work. Learn More

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July 2018

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Main Plot, Subplots and Threads

Sangeeta Mehta

According to Aristotle in Poetics, a plot should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. A well-constructed plot cannot begin or end “at haphazard.” Instead, the beginning should naturally lead to some event or incident, and the end should tie up all loose ends. If we are to follow Aristotle’s advice for the main plot of their work, should we do the same for subplots and threads? Where do character arcs fit in? And how important is plot in low-concept and multi-viewpoint narratives? This webinar will explore these questions by looking at excerpts of popular fiction. We will also do an exercise to help you differentiate between the main plot, subplots, and threads of your work-in-progress. Learn More

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September 2018

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Theme

Sarah Aronson

A strong theme is not just essential to a great story—it is the juice—the motivation to return to the manuscript and dig. Are you ready to think big? To embrace the motivation behind your stories? To think about theme? Donald Maass, in The Fire in Fiction, calls theme “the underlying conviction that makes the words matter.” It is also the electricity that keeps us motivated to go back to our characters and story events and continue writing—even as expectations, disappointment, boredom, and ego challenge our senses of our selves. In this lecture, author Sarah Aronson will speak to the power of embracing theme as part of your writing process. She will show you how theme can help you tap into the three I’s of writing: inspiration, intellect, and intuition, and will offer tips and prompts to help you embrace theme in your writing and critical reading. Learn More

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November 2018

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Research in Fiction

Anca Szilágyi

Writing what you know is a good start, but what about what you don't know? We'll talk about how to enjoy the research rabbit hole without getting overwhelmed and how to use that research to write fiction with authority. This will include generating research questions, finding the best resources, staying organized, and figuring out what to do with the wealth of information you've gathered, bearing in mind different expectations across genres. Learn More

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December 2018

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Pacing: What to Cut, What to Keep, and What Order to Put It In

John Cusick

In this talk we’ll learn to create stories that capture and keep a reader’s attention from word one. We’ll discuss strategies for dealing with saggy middles, slow openings, and unsatisfying development, as well as learn to vary tension and, most importantly, eliminate the boring parts. Learn More

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January 2019

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Unleashing the Writer Within

Eric Maisel

Join Eric Maisel, America's foremost creativity coach and the author of 50+ books, and learn how to effectively handle the challenges that all writers face with respect to cracking through everyday resistance, maintaining a regular writing practice, handling the writing blues, sustaining motivation, tolerating the realities of process, and much more! Learn More

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February 2019

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Story and Structure: How Do You Build It So It Won't Fall Down?

SJ Rozan

Structure, for many writers, is the Bogeyman. Crime writers especially quake in fear. Foreshadowing! Planted clues! Misdirection! And -- gulp -- three-act organization! How is a poor writer supposed to make sense of this, let alone manipulate it all? Outlining, back-outlining, plotters-vs-pantsers, flashbacks or never flashbacks, it's all too much. The good news: no, it's not, really. Join SJ Rozan for an exploration of structure: what it is and what it isn't, what it can do and what it can't. We'll see how this unnecessarily intimidating concept can be demystified and put to work in the service of narrative. Which, after all, is the point of any element of the writing process: supporting narrative. Learn More

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April 2019

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First Pages in Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction

Sarah La Polla

A strong opening chapter is essential in capturing not just an agent's attention, but in hooking your readers. It is your book's first impression, and for over-scheduled, savvy young readers of Middle Grade and Young Adult, that first impression needs to resonate right away. But what makes a truly engaging opening? How much backstory is too much backstory, and what is connecting your reader to your main character? And is capturing the entire scope of a novel in the opening pages really all that necessary? In this lecture, literary agent Sarah LaPolla will discuss the best ways to effectively present voice, story, and character in your opening pages in ways that reach teen readers and keep an agent wanting more. Learn More

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May 2019

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Middle Grade vs. Young Adult Fiction, a Q&A

Cheryl Klein

Cheryl Klein will explore the differences between middle grade and young adult fiction in this structured Q&A session. There will be time for audience questions at the end of the Q&A. Learn More

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May 2019

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Walking the Trope Tightrope

Jeanne De Vita

Romance readers love tropes! This course will explore what craft elements a trope provides (insta-confict? insta-stakes?) and will practice applying those tropes to common writing problems. We’ll examine five common romance tropes in detail: enemies to lovers, surprise royalty, fake relationship, fish out of water, and second chance romance. We will discuss how each trope lends support to the essential elements of your romance and can help you write your book. Tropes are invaluable tool for writers of all genres, so all authors are welcome to attend. Lecture resources include a trope guide and a worksheet to storyboard the elements of your trope. Learn More

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June 2019

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Find Your Voice – and Connect with Your Reader

Fiona Kenshole

Have you ever found yourself so immersed in a story that you just didn't want it to finish? That emotional engagement is exactly what an editor is looking for when they talk about the elusive quality of "voice" - and it's important in fiction and nonfiction, from picture books to novels. In this seminar, we'll look at how to find your own unique voice with tips for getting it onto the page. We'll work on connecting with the reader through point-of-view writing, exploring different perspectives, and lots of hands-on exercises to help you overcome all the rules you were taught in school! Learn More

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July 2019

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Tension and Desire: How Your Characters’ Deepest Longings Make for Page-Turning Fiction

Lorin Oberweger

In this class, we’ll explore the landscape of internal and external goals, overarching desires, emotional wounds, and unacknowledged longings. We’ll parse their different functions and explore how they can best be employed on a scene-by-scene and page-by-page basis. We’ll also discuss when desires should be made overt to the reader and when they should operate in sub-text. Additionally, we’ll work with desire as a tool for creating tension, building apprehension and investment via dialogue, exposition, internal monologue, and more. Prepare for some hands-on work during this class! Learn More

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August 2019

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Know Yourself As a Writer

Joyce Sweeney

One of the best ways I've found to see in an author/manuscript is 'ready' is to assess the writer in four key areas: voice, plot, structure and concept. If all four are high level, the book tends to break through. It's my belief that all writers are born with one of these as a guaranteed 'A'. But most of us also have one area that's a "D." And the other two fall somewhere in between. So, the key to success may be understanding where we are weak so we can "bring up our grade." During this webinar workshop, you will assess your strengths and weaknesses through questions and exercises - and get started on building the skills you need to be competitive. Learn More