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.


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

TBD Stay tuned for more information. TBD Stay tuned for more information. TBD Stay tuned for more information.

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 

TBD Stay tuned for more information.

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

TBD Stay tuned for more information.

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 Supense 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
 

TBD Stay tuned for more information.

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
TBD Stay tuned for more information. 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
TBD Stay tuned for more information.
TBD Stay tuned for more information.
3:00 - 4:00 PM 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
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
TBD Stay tuned for more information. 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
TBD Stay tuned for more information. TBD Stay tuned for more information.
TBD Stay tuned for more information.
11:30 AM - 12:30 PM Closing Keynote - Neal Shusterman
12:30 -1:30 PM Book Signing with Neal Shusterman