In 2019, we are excited to offer four master classes outside of our regular conference. These three-hour intensive workshops provide in-depth expertise on marketing, short story structure, traditional publishing, and screenwriting. Master Classes are offered Thursday morning ONLY and run simultaneously. Click here to purchase your seat for one.
Each master class instructor is also teaching workshops during the conference. Descriptions for each 50-minute conference workshop are listed alphabetically by instructor. Panel discussions and are listed last. For workshops or panels that are repeated, blue text indicates the first time and location the class is being offered and purple text indicates the second session.
The Big Bang World-Building Workshop. Session 1, Room E
And it all started with a big bang . . . or maybe just a spark of an idea. Worldbuilding is an essential part of storytelling no matter what genre you’re playing in. Whether you’re creating planets in a sci-fi adventure, establishing the magical laws of a medieval fantasy realm, or building a reality populated entirely by llamas, there are important steps when creating your fictional wonderland. This interactive workshop takes attendees through those important steps, first looking at well-known fictional worlds, building a planet as a group, then breaking into smaller groups to establish new worlds, which are presented at the end of the session (time allowing).
Not So Happily Ever After. Session 5, Room E
This fun and interactive storytelling workshop takes a look at fairytales and their wonderfully dark and gruesome origins, before they became all cute and disney-fied. The workshop includes a short presentation about story and plot, character archetypes, three act structure, how to plan out your writing projects, and explores a number of fairy tales (complete with the audience acting them out). Flash group-work follows with people creating their own fairytales complete with a moral lesson. Some groups are chosen to pitch their ideas (time allowing).
How to Navigate the Netflix Generation of Readers and Writers Without Losing Your Mind and Killing Everyone. Session 7, Room F; Session 12, Room E.
The literary world as we know it has changed over the past decade. Attention spans have shortened, the sheer noise of available content has become a deafening cacophony, and our desire for immediate satisfaction has increased exponentially.
This presentation and discussion takes a realistic look at the statistics surrounding readership, the changes in the marketplace that have brought us to where we are today, and the frustration we experience as writers as we struggle to keep up with the ever-fluctuating and expanding literary landscape.
Millennials aside, we’re now dealing with a Netflix Generation of readers who are infinitely more difficult to satisfy. As writers and content creators, how do we navigate this brave new world without going crazy and resorting to a mass killing spree?
How to Find Your Readers and Do Truly Great Market Research. Session 4, Room A; Session 8, Room G.
Wherever you are in the writing process, there is one key element that needs to underpin all of your activities: Market research. Educating yourself about your genre, your fellow authors, and the publishing industry is your FIRST step on your journey to becoming a successful author.
We’ll work together during this session to identify and track down the most successful authors in your genre. Then, we will create a step-by-step “to do” list that will help you find and connect with the thousands of readers that you share with those authors. The answers to these questions can help you formulate YOUR marketing plans and help you determine how you will connect with YOUR readers.
How to Use Social Media to Find and Connect with Readers (Even If You Hate it). Session 7, Room A; Session 9, Room G.
Overwhelmed by classes on social media telling you that you have to do 15 things a day to stay relevant? Want to come up with a MANAGEABLE way to use the internet to engage with readers? This session shares daily social media habits that have resulted in a huge readerships and increased book sales dramatically.
You DON’T have to spend all day on the computer or your smart phone. BUT you DO have to engage with readers and attract them to your books. Amy will share her rules for engaging online and increases your community. Slow, careful, small steps will get you MUCH further than a huge, overwhelming campaign that you cannot possibly keep up.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Author Brand. Session 1, Room G
To create a brand that reaches readers, you need to know who your reader is and how to create a connection that lasts. I’ll share 5 simple steps that any author can use to create a brand that will work for them.
Dear Author…Things no one ever tells you but should. Session 4, Room G
All you’ve wanted was to get your books published. Once you have… is life really amazing? Or does it become more complicated? You don’t know what you don’t know but it’s time to change that. A personal and frank talk about what life as a published author is really like.
The #1 Secret to Being a Successful Author… and it’s not about your sales. Session 3, Room G; Session 8, Room E.
Market saturation, high demand, fast publishing date, author burnout… is it even possible in today’s market to be successful? What does success even mean anymore? Let’s talk about one way of becoming a successful author that has nothing to do with how many books you sell or how much money you make, but instead focuses entirely on your readers.
Agents, Lawyers, and Managers–Oh My! Session 9, Room F
Independent producer and development consultant Tiegen Kosiak will discuss the ins and outs of representation in Hollywood, including the difference between agents, managers, and lawyers; what they’re looking for; how to approach them; and how to best utilize them once they’re on your team. She’ll also highlight ways to build your own brand and sell your script solo.
Character Building. Session 5, Room F; Session 11, Room G.
If you create memorable, engaging characters (think Forrest Gump or Tony Soprano), an audience member will watch them do just about anything! In this workshop, you’ll learn strategies to develop three-dimensional characters, build up their motivations, and create compelling arcs that will keep viewers (and readers) on the edge of their seats.
MARY ROBINETTE KOWAL
Spoken and Nonverbal Dialogue. Session 9, Room E
When people converse, they do so with more than just words. Body language, tone of voice, and societal context all play a role in understanding what a person means. In this workshop, we’ll use in-class exercises to explore how to get the most out of dialog.
Diagnosing Story Problems. Session 2, Room E; Session 11, Room F.
In this workshop, we look at tools to help you figure out where a story has gone wrong, and possible angles of attack to fix the problems. Plot structure, beta readers, and the dreaded writer’s block can all help narrow down the weakness in a story and ultimately fix it.
Secondary Characters Who Pop. Session 3, Room E;
You know your main character, but what about the rest of the cast? It’s all too easy to let secondary characters default to types we are familiar with, or to have characters who feel flat. In this workshop, Hugo Award-winning author Mary Robinette Kowal will use lecture, in-class exercises, and worksheets to show how to create secondary characters who add to the story.
The Art of Descriptive Writing. Session 2, Room F; Session 10, Room E.
‘Good stories are filled with amazing images that draw readers in, but how do writers accomplish creating this rich imagery? The secret is in the language itself. In this class, we’ll explore the art of descriptive writing and what makes for memorable narrative.’
Memoir 101. Session 8, Room F
‘At first glance, writing our life stories seems easy, but anyone who’s ever braved the task, will tell you otherwise. What makes writing memoir and creative non-fiction so tricky? The answer lies in recognizing the elements of our stories most appealing to our readers. The ones that make our story unique. In this class, we’ll set off to dispel the myths about one of today’s most popular genres. We’ll also explore the main elements of memoir, and learn techniques a writer can use to create a dynamic personal narrative.’
MARY C. MOORE
Polishing Your Prose to Make it Submission Ready. Session 4, Room E
Literary agent Mary C. Moore of Kimberley Cameron & Associates will present her formula for writing commercial fiction prose. Specifically targeted for commercial novel writers, the workshop focuses on polishing the writing, line by line, in order to grab the reader and keep them invested, no matter what the story is about.
Nonfiction Intensive. Session 3, Room F
This session is completely devoted to nonfiction that is not memoir. So if you are trying to create an awesome nonfiction book proposal, this presentation is for you. With both a writer and agent to instruct and answers questions, the session will talk about platform, identifying your book’s place in the market, effective pitching, and more.
An Overview of Your Publishing Options Today. Session 4, Room F; Session 6, Room G.
This workshop examines the two largest routes any writer can take with their book: traditional publishing and self-publishing / e-publishing. We will examine the upsides of both routes, the challenges with both, and the next steps no matter what you decide. In today’s publishing world, a writer has to understand what they’re in for before they send their book out. This session is designed to prepare them for what’s to come and what options exist.
How to Market Yourself and Your Books: Talking Author Social Media, Blogging, and Platform. Session 2, Room G.
Whether you’re traditionally published or self-published, everyone could use some helpful guidance on how to effectively market themselves and sell more books. This session includes easy-to-understand advice on social media (Twitter, Facebook, more), blogging, and other simple ways you can market your work online cheaply and easily.
13 Things Bad Screenwriters Commonly Do. Session 5, Room A
A humorous but nuts-and-bolts workshop on common formatting and creative errors that screenwriters often make, based on Brad’s years as an executive and head of development for film and TV director Jonathan Kaplan (THE ACCUSED, E.R.) Taken from Brad’s book What Are You Laughing At?: How to Write Funny Screenplays, Stories and More.
Adapting Material for TV and Film. Session 8, Room A
An examination of some of the joys and challenges of adapting books, articles, documentaries, short stories and other forms for TV and film development and production. Also, marketing and legal advice on selling the rights to one’s material for adaptation, regardless of who does the adapting.
Facing Rejection Head On. Session 12, Room F
Learn constructive ways to deal with the reality of surviving the disappointment and frustration of rejection by delving into the relationships of author and agent, author and potential studio, publisher, producer, or network. Also learn ways for the writer and agent to work together with the goal of forming a long-lasting partnership.
Pitching as a Career Skill. Session 10, Room G
In this workshop, we will discuss the role the pitch plays throughout your career and why it’s a skill every writer should develop and hone. An in-depth analysis of what makes a good pitch and a crash course in some of the core techniques to start to refine your query.
Narrating Fact: Issues in Historical Fiction. Session 5, Room G
“Historical Fiction is rife with opportunities for writers—fascinating stories, characters, customs, art, language, food—but those same advantages can quickly become disadvantages: research can bog down story, archaic language can stall character development, actual historical events can derail plot. In short, fact can get in the way of your fiction.
Taught by a successful historical novelist, this workshop will give students the skills to navigate the tricky waters of historical fiction. Participants will learn helpful research techniques (how to choose reliable sources, organize research, and track down obscure information), how to show the history without devolving into a boring lecture, and the specific quirks of publishing a historical novel. We will also discuss many other issues, including how to make necessary cuts in the research to keep the story moving, how to deal with dialects and anachronisms, how to integrate fictional characters with real-life historical figures, and how much artistic license writers should take with history to tell a compelling story.
This class is not only helpful for those writing traditional historical fiction, but also for writers of creative non-fiction, memoir, or any fiction that requires research”
Story Lessons from Hollywood. Session 1, Room F; Session 7, Room E.
“In this workshop, participants will learn how to harness the power of Hollywood storytelling to write stories that will catch the eye of agents, editors, publishers, and the media. Lessons from screenwriting, producing, directing, editing and acting will help the beginning writer build a strong foundation and help the professional writer take their craft to the next level. Participants will learn how to apply filmic structure and pacing to their fiction, discover how the craft of acting will help you dive deeper into your characters and write more believable dialogue, and see unique examples of that old “show don’t tell” advice.
By distilling down nearly twenty years of experience in Hollywood, Storey will teach you how to not only stay true to your voice, create compelling characters, and tell honest stories, but also how entertain your audience, ensuring that they keep turning those pages.”
Write Like an Actor: an acting class for writers. Session 6, Room E
“This class will show you—the writer—that acting and writing are not so different after all. Actors and writers both spend their lives dreaming of fantasy worlds, inhabiting other people, and playing pretend as adults. Actors and writers both care—deeply—about imaginary worlds and exploring the truth of the human condition.
By studying the craft of acting, writers can learn to write better dialogue, get in touch with their characters’ emotions and motivations, develop strong points of view, and choose character details that are specific and important. Acting can help any writer live more fully inside the messy truth of human relationships and make imaginary people come to life.
Participants will study acting techniques in a safe, writer-friendly environment. No need to fear getting up on stage to perform. The class is taught by a writer and introvert who will introduce you to a range of acting techniques and tools in an introvert-friendly way. (No getting up on stage and pretending to be a tree, unless you are just dying to do that, in which case I won’t stop you). Join this class for an introduction to the world of acting that will change your writing forever. ”
Navigating Contracts. Session 11, Room E
Contracts are an integral part of publishing but can be daunting to the uninitiated. Join Mitchell Waters from Curtis Brown to learn more about the standard elements of a contract an author might have with a literary agency or publishing house. What language and terms should you expect to find in a contract and what red flags should you avoid?
Dissecting the Dreaded Query. Session 6, Room F
How to write a query that is killer and will get you noticed.
The Magic Pill for Writers Block: Generating new work even when you’re not feeling it. Session 7, Room G; Session 10, Room F.
A hands-on writing workshop in which participants learn a way to generate first drafts through guided imagery exercises. Attendees will actively write using pens and notebooks. We will be focused on creating new work and ways to push through the internal editor who sometimes gets in the way.
How to Submit to Literary Journals. Session 12, Room G
Literary journals are a great lowstakes way to increase your authorial credentials while also making contacts in the publishing world. This talk will show you some key resources for defining the right market for your work, building contacts with those editorial teams and getting your byline into incredible journals that will make your work eligible for Pushcart, O.Henry and Best American nominations. We’ll walk through what to do, what not to put in your cover letter, and how to mitigate those interminable turnaround times.
On Being an Agent. Session 1, Room A; Session 6, Room A.
What does a literary agent’s typical day look like? How did they find some of their clients? Do they go through rounds of edits with their clients before going out on submission to publishing houses? How are movie rights sold, and what are some of the differences between submitting screenplays, novels, and nonfiction? Join three agents for a discussion on the nuts and bolts of agenting. First session featuring Mary C. Moore, Jessica Watterson, and Ken Sherman. Second session featuring Mitchell Waters, Tiegen Kosiak, and DongWon Song.
First Page Reads. Friday Lunch, Ballroom; Saturday Lunch, Ballroom
When an agent or editor’s inbox is overflowing and other responsibilities are calling, how far do they read a first page before moving onto the next submission? Listen to four industry experts respond to the anonymous first pages of conference attendees and find out if they stop reading, and why.
Friday with DongWon Song, Mitchell Waters, Tiegen Kosiak, and Amber Oliver.
Saturday with Jessica Watterson, Mary C. Moore, Russell Busse, and Brad Schreiber.
Submissions to the first page reads can be purchased on the conference website and should be emailed to email@example.com by April 25th, 2019. Each $5 purchase gives the author one entry. Attendees can purchase more than one entry to increase the chances of their entry being read.
Fix That Query! Session 3, Room A; Session 10, Room A.
A query is a very different piece of writing than a book. How do you make sure that yours is getting people to carefully consider your submission and request additional material? Join four industry experts as they share their favorite tips for improving queries, and then – if you’re lucky! – hear them give feedback on your query.
To submit a query for this workshop, bring FOUR copies of your query and turn them in at the door. Queries will be read anonymously and then discussed. Queries should be brief (under 500 words is good, under 250 words is better). Standard formatting (double spaced, 1-inch margins, 12 point Times New Roman font). If you’re new to queries, check out Query Shark, this article by Jane Friedman, or this post from the Bent Agency’s blog.
First session with Mary C. Moore, Russell Busse, and Amber Oliver.
Second Session with Mitchell Waters, Tiegen Kosiak, DongWon Song, and Jessica Watterson
In Service of Story Session 1, Room A
Join two editors as they share why they acquired recent projects. What drew them to these stories and what challenges and opportunities did these books face during the journey to publication? How do you know when a book is “ready” for publication versus needing additional edits? What editorial feedback do they most often give?
BMI Panel Session 12, Room A
Please join editors Niela Orr and James Yeh in a conversation about the The Believer, a five-time National Magazine Award-nominated literature, arts, and culture magazine published by UNLV’s Black Mountain Institute. The editors will discuss the state of the publishing industry and The Believer’s place within the larger nonfiction ecosystem. They’ll also talk about The Believer’s editorial workings, the kind of writing they’re interested in publishing, their favorite Believer pieces, the types of Las Vegas stories they’d like to feature in the magazine, and The Believer’s role in southern Nevada’s humanities community. James, a features editor, will delve into the magazine’s standards for long-form and short-form nonfiction, and Niela, an interviews editor, will address the kinds of conversations she’s interested in bringing into public discourse. The talk will commence with a question-and-answer session.
Self-publishing – what we wished we’d known before starting Session 11, Room A
Join four indie authors for a frank discussion of the ins and outs of self-publishing. Why did they self-publish? What advantages and disadvantages does self-publishing have for them? And, most importantly, what words of advice and wisdom would they pass on to someone just starting?
What’s in a press? Small vs. Midsize vs. Large Publishers Session 9, Room A
When people talk about traditional book publishing they generally think first of the big five publishing houses: Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster. Join four editors to hear about the behind the scenes differences between various sizes of publishing houses, and also how you can differentiate between a reputable press and an “author beware” press.
Again, we are excited to have the opportunity of offering four master classes outside of our regular conference. These three-hour intensive workshops provide in-depth expertise on marketing, short story structure, traditional publishing, and screenwriting. Master Classes are offered Thursday morning ONLY and run simultaneously.
Book Marketing Intensive.
Is your book up on Amazon and not selling as well as you thought it would?
Have you invested in ads and seen a lot of “clicks” but very few sales?
Have you sent requests and emails to the media and not gotten any responses?
Are your emails to bookstore and libraries getting ignored?
You are not alone. Most authors feel like they are shouting down a deep well and only hearing their own echo back. Why does this happen? Often it is because their book description and pitches are not created to appeal to the recipient. Too often, authors use the book description on the back of their books for EVERYTHING.
We can make a big difference in our success by using our writing skills to fit the message to the market, which is what this master class will cover. We will cover creating copy that will work for back cover, browsers, media outlets, readers, librarians, and bookstores and teach you how to best reach each of those audiences.
MARY ROBINETTE KOWAL
Short Stories Explained.
When people are struggling to write short fiction, the problem usually begins with the idea. It often leads to a story that is too long, or the beginning of a novel, or so simplistic that it is dull.
In this hands-on workshop with Hugo-award winning author Mary Robinette Kowal, you’ll walk through how to create and structure a short story idea. There are a lot of theories out there about how to handle pacing for novels, but how do you do it when length constrains you? It turns out that many of the same rules-of-thumb apply, but in a proportionally smaller space they look very different. Learn how to structure your beginnings, ends, and of course, those pesky middles.
Everything You Need to Know about Agents, Submission, Queries, and First Pages.
This extended workshop is a thorough, in-depth course in how to get a literary agent. After quickly going over what an agent is and what they do for writers, you will learn resources for finding agents, how to ID the best agents for you, submission advice, as well as the most important things to do and not to do when dealing with representatives. Questions welcome.
In addition, this course will also give attendees the chance to bring their query letters and manuscript first pages to be critiqued live by instructor Chuck Sambuchino (if time allows). See if your submission (query and first page) can make it past the slush pile, and also witness other attendees’ submissions examined out loud to learn from their successes and weak points.
If you want to get a major publishing deal, you need an agent. And this course will tell you everything you need to know about finding a representative and giving yourself the best chance of success.
The Four C’s of Powerful, Effective Screenwriting.
All engaging, marketable screenwriting begins with a premise that incorporates qualities that Brad has dubbed the four C’s: Clear, Correct, Concise and Colorful. Based on a course he taught the American Film Institute in Hollywood, his lecture in the first half of this master class examines how these elements should be checked in the logline and treatment/outline of a screenplay before beginning the first draft. There will also be a lively, fun, interactive group exercise in which a logline using the four C’s method is constructed, based on a well-known classic film. In the second half of the master class, Brad will select loglines and the first pages of submitted screenplays and workshop them in class to see how they address these four important qualities. He will also give advice on the further development of the work, suggesting possibilities that will spur the writers to explore new ideas.
*To submit an excerpt of your screenplay for workshopping in this class, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org by April 25, 2019.