Writer's Digest Conference Schedule

Customize your experience by mixing and matching options from different instructional tracks. Four sessions will be offered in every time slot! Tracks include:

Craft

Craft

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

Character

Populate your novel with characters your readers can connect with, and keep those pages turning
Genre

Genre

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.
Beyond

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.


THURSDAY, OCTOBER 26

           
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM Registration 
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM DIY MFA Novel-Writing Boot CampIn this boot camp, Gabriela will walk you through her signature seven-step method to help you start, finish, and revise your novel. Her mission: to help you transform your novel from average to awesome, and make it submission-ready.
Gabriela Pereira

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 27

 
Craft

Character

Genre

Beyond
8:00 AM – 6:00 PM Registration & Exhibits
9:00 - 10:00 AM

The Creative Process for Writers We have to understand how our minds work, how we create, how we process ideas into stories. A topic rarely covered, but I’ve found it’s the most fundamental thing a writer needs to understand.
Bob Mayer


Ten Ways To Create Compelling Characters (Even Unlikable Ones!) Learn ten ways (and more) to create characters that are unique, unexpected and utterly absorbing to your reader, even when they’re less than likable! We’ll look at examples of ways successful authors have rendered unforgettable characters, which will inspire you as you create your own.
April Eberhardt
The Crossover Chasm: From Writing Novels to Writing Movies... and Back Again Novelist-screenwriter Doug Richardson talks about navigating the movie star-sized obstacles between your book and the big screen. He survived. So can you.
Doug Richardson
The Rejection Audit This session is for writers wondering why their manuscripts keep getting rejected and trying to crack the code of the rejection letters agents send.
Jennie Nash

10:15  - 11:15 AM

Make Your First Chapter Matter In this session, learn how to consider (or reconsider) your premise, backstory and character arcs to find the best launching point for your novel—the one that will grab readers and refuse to let go. Handouts and exercises included.
Sophie Littlefield 

Creating a Character Board To Bring Your Characters To Life We’ll discuss the elements of creating a character board, using Pinterest, illustration or scissors and glue, to get to know your characters in full 3-D before beginning to write. You’ll leave with a list of all the things you’ll want to know about your character to bring her or him to life on the page.
April Eberhardt

All About "High-Concept" Novels Learn how to identify a high concept, get some tricks for training your brain to generate them automatically, and see why a killer concept will pay dividends from query to store shelves.
Holly Root and Taylor Haggerty

The End, Now What? This one-hour session will enumerate the steps needed to take a first draft novel on a journey from page to bookstore shelves.
G.S. Prendergast

11:30 AM - 12:30 PM The Three Narrative Arcs in Every Story Students will learn why the Physical Arc is not that important; how the emotional arc teaches us who the characters are; and most importantly, they will learn the incredible value of the Intentional Arc, which teaches us not only how find the story but how to sell it.
William Kenower
Improv Your Characters to Life In this fun, high-energy session, an improvisation teacher gives you 10 tools that have been helping actors and comics create dimensional, authentic characters for centuries, and shows you how they can work just as well for writers.
Jorjeana Marie
Page-Turning Secrets for Thrillers and Suspense You'll learn the foundations of a compelling narrative, how to end a scene with a "read-on prompt," and techniques for keeping a reader up all night.
James Scott Bell

Co-Authoring: How to Collaborate Effectively Learn the ins and outs of how to navigate plotting, editing and pitching your novel with another author without losing your sanity (or your friendship!).

Liz Fenton
12:30 - 1:45 PM Lunch on Your Own
1:45 - 2:45 PM

The Promise of Premise Getting premise right is a multi-part, criteria-driven process, one that becomes core to basic story development and is rendered more achievable once those criteria are not only understood, but utilized to drive the creation phase. This workshop will define and explain those criteria, supported by real-life examples on both sides of the goal. Larry Brooks 

Crafting Compelling Character Motivations This workshop will explore how to nail character motivation using the tried and true 3-Act structure but with today's readers in mind.
Susan Meissner

Find Success Writing Romance In this session, bestselling author Rachael Herron will lead you through the steps of writing a romance novel that will satisfy both your creative drive and the genre reader’s expectation.
Rachael Herron

Your Submission Questions Answered Four top literary agents representing successful novelists today weigh in on query letter dos and don'ts, what they look for in a submission, and how to best position yourself for success.
 Laurie McLean, Holly Root, Patricia Nelson, Taylor Haggerty

3:00 - 4:00 PM

Plotting for Pantsers In this session, learn from bestselling author Rachael Herron (who learned the hard way) how to harness a hybrid method, using just enough plotting to get you to the end while still allowing your creativity and spontaneity on the page to shine.
Rachael Herron
 

The Devil is in the Details This workshop will include a step-by-step primer for character creation and tricks about conveying character detail learned from years of writing for film.
Nina Sadowsky

Agent Panel: Writing & Publishing for Young Readers Literary agents who represent MG & YA work join a panel in the genre for a discussion of how to craft effective stories that resonate with these most discriminating of audiences.
Holly Root, Patricia Nelson, Taylor Haggerty
 

10 Steps to a Successful Revision This session offers tips on how to pinpoint areas for improvement in your manuscript draft, whether it’s your first, second or third.
Helga Schier

4:15 - 5:15 PM Opening Keynote - Lisa See
5:30 - 6:30 PM Book Signing with Keynote

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 28

  Craft Character Genre Beyond
8:00 AM – 6:00 PM Registration & Exhibits
9:00 – 10:00 AM Writing Dazzling Dialogue In this workshop you'll learn the essentials of great dialogue, and take away a set of techniques that will help you fashion great fictional talk every time.
James Scott Bell
When Nice Characters Do Bad Things: How to Keep Your Protagonist Empathetic Join popular women’s fiction and thriller author Liz Fenton as she walks through the challenges of creating empathy for your protagonist—in any genre—even when that protagonist is severely, deliciously flawed.
Liz Fenton
Out-of-This-World Science Fiction & Fantasy Let your imagination run wild as you learn the ins and outs of successfully (and lucratively) publishing science fiction and fantasy from a senior agent with an award-winning client roster in the genre.
Laurie McLean
Raising the Bar for Your Story This workshop will seek to differentiate good from great in a context that resides alongside yet separate from writing voice, sharing a learnable and achievable skill set for writers willing to shift their process toward a higher standard.
Larry Brooks
10:15 - 11:15 AM Point of View: The What, How & Why of Your Story’s Perspective This session offers strategies to help you understand the pros and cons of every POV choice you make, and choose the point of view that will grant your scene or your story the biggest impact on your reader.
Helga Schier
Duel and Multi-POV Novels and How to Make Them Work This session will explore techniques for writing in duel or multi-POV, both in first person and third person.
G.S. Prendergast
The Character of Crime: Creating the Character Web in Crime, Mystery/Detective And Thriller Fiction Award-winning crime novelist David Corbett will guide students in exploring the key roles that make crime fiction work, with specific focus on the specific demands of the three major sub-genres of crime fiction--mystery/detective, crime and thriller--and an emphasis on maintaining dramatic tension, creating moral complexity, and avoiding cliche.
David Corbett
Debut Author Panel You'll learn what it took for each of them to secure a deal, what the reality of that experience was, the disappointments and the victories, and the lessons learned along the way.
Robinne Lee, Kristin Rockaway, Lorena Hughes
11:30 AM - 12:30 PM Creating Emotional Depth This workshop offers an overview of emotion’s relationship to plot and character, and introduces a variety of ways to add emotional depth to a novel.
Sophie Littlefield
Making Your Setting a Character In this workshop we will look at the three ways novelists can shape and utilize their setting as either a benevolent, ambivalent or malevolent character in and of itself.
Susan Meissner
Writing Across Genre There are patterns to genre writing. What are these? And what about mixing genres? Genre needs to be considered not only in terms of craft, but, as importantly, in terms of your career. Should you pigeon-hole yourself? Should you spread yourself out? How does your background and your creative process play into your genre?
Bob Mayer
Demystifying Scrivener: Make Your Writing Software Work for You This session is aimed at teaching you everything you need to know about Scrivener in one hour flat.
April Davila
12:30 - 1:45 PM Lunch on Your Own
1:45 - 2:45 PM Scene Stealers: How to Master the Scene to Build a Page-Turning Plot In this workshop you’ll brush up on the architecture and elements of a scene, explore the essential scenes every plot needs, and learn to make every scene plot relevant.
Jordan Rosenfeld
Writing the Hero's Journey We will discuss how setting, strong goals, fatal flaws, emotional wounds and a willingness to undergo challenges can give your struggling character a kick in the pants. Come with a character in mind and be ready to work in this interactive class!
Whitney Davis

Mystery/Thriller Panel During this panel, an exciting lineup of novelists will detail exactly what defines a good mystery/thriller, what special or unique considerations the genre may require of an author, and how to write a mystery/thriller that attracts both industry pros and readers alike. 
Liz Fenton, James Scott Bell, David Corbett, Nina Sadowsky

TBD Stay tuned for more information.
3:00 - 4:00 PM

Tricks for Beating Writer's BlockNina will share her tricks for jump starting process, creative procrastination, and fulfilling your writerly commitments to yourself.
Nina Sadowsky

Writing Conflicted Characters: How to Dramatize Mixed Motives & Other Contradictions In this workshop, you’ll learn how to dramatize such conflicting motivations without trapping the character in a maze of indecision.
David Corbett

TBD Stay tuned for more information.

Write It Forward: From Writer to Successful Author Write It Forward is a holistic approach encompassing goals, intent, environment, personality, change, courage, communication and leadership that gives the writer a road map to become a successful author.
 Bob Mayer
4:15 - 5:15 PM

Concept: Analyzing Your Story's DNA In this workshop you will learn what it takes to develop a solid story concept (similar to a logline) that will serve as the vision for the entire novel—whether you’re just getting started, midway through, or entering the revision phase.
Ara Grigorian

Fatal Flaw: The Key to the Kingdom This workshop will illuminate the power of the fatal flaw, give you practical tools for discovering it and show you how to use it to unlock the deeper, more powerful values of your story.
Deb Norton
Women's Fiction Panel During this session, you'll hear from experienced writers about their experiences publishing in the genre, how to write successfully for book clubs and other voracious readers in this audience, and more.
Liz Fenton, Rachael Herron, Sophie Littlefield, Janis Thomas
Fearless Writing Students will learn that they don't need to care what anyone thinks of their work, the only two questions a writer should ever ask, and why it is so important to care about how you feel.
William Kenower
5:30 - 6:30 PM Central Keynote 
6:30 - 8:00 PM  Halloween Themed Cocktail Reception

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 29

  Craft Character Genre Beyond
8:00 AM – 1:15pm Registration & Exhibits
9:00 –10:00 AM Story Beats: Your Story's Heartbeat This session will help you understand the core beats that all great stories share and begin your evolution as a better storyteller.
Ara Grigorian
Writing the Perfectly Imperfect Character: The Character Cues Technique  In this workshop, you’ll learn about these crucial cues that allow you to demonstrate your characters' inner lives and backstories, choose the best point of view for your story, and make their every word and deed relevant.
Jordan Rosenfeld
Historical Fiction Panel In this insightful session, our panelists will examine the peculiar difficulties associated with researching and crafting convincing, artful historical fiction that sweeps readers away without bogging them down with too much detail and description. Lorena Hughes, Susan Meissner, Sophie Littlefield
Tips for Thriving on Any Publication Path Self-publishing. Social media. Print versus digital. Publishing is in the midst of a full-on revolution. Learn how to take advantage of all the changes.
Laurie McLean
10:15 - 11:15 AM The Art of Subtext: Writing the Unspeakable This workshop demystifies subtext: What it is, what it does for your story, how to write it effectively, and how to use it as a character discovery tool.
Deb Norton
Where Story Structure & Character Arc Meet In this workshop we will delve into the relationship between your main character's journey and plot-based story arc, and how essential both components are to creating a compelling read.
Janis Thomas
An Insider's Guide to Audiobooks Audiobooks are a fast-growing market segment for traditionally published and indie authors alike. Learn how to take advantage from an award-winning narrator of over 200 audiobooks.
Jorjeana Marie
The Four Perspectives: A System for Revising Everything From One Chapter to a Whole Manuscript In this workshop, book coach Jennie Nash will teach writers how to step into their reader’s minds, their character’s minds, and the part of their own mind they didn’t even realize was impacting their story. Writers will walk away with a powerful new way to approach revision.
Jennie Nash
11:30 AM - 12:30 PM Closing Keynote - Neal Shusterman
12:30 -1:30 PM Book Signing with Neal Shusterman