Manuscript Makeover offered at Super Mini-conference

While MWW is working hard on its newly-minted nonprofit governance and its board recruitment (read our statement here), we’re also keeping in mind our mission to help writers reach their writing goals. This Craft + Community “Super Mini” is a dynamic day-and-a-half with a decidedly different structure-shorter, smaller, less expensive, and designed for writers of every level in their careers.

It offers eight in-depth, hands-on interactive, small class size sessions taught by experienced, accomplished, and professional faculty. One faculty member is Holly Miller. We caught up with Holly this week and asked her for a preview of her “Manuscript Makeover” class. Read portions of our conversation below…
 
Author-editor Holly Miller says that books are a lot like airplanes–they’re most vulnerable to crashes during takeoff and landing. Her explanation: A story needs powerful opening pages (takeoff) and a satisfying final chapter (landing) if it’s going to convince agents, editors and readers to come along for the ride. Holly’s Manuscript Makeover class at the Super Mini-conference will focus on beginnings, endings, and everything in between. With 14 books and 2,500 magazine articles to her credit, Holly knows how to help authors chart a course that will get them closer to their anticipated destination: publication.

You call your morning workshop “Manuscript Makeover,” but is it really possible to redo a manuscript in three and a half hours?

At the beginning of the session I always promise participants that they’re going to know a lot more at noon than they do at 8:30 when we start the class. It’s my job to deliver on that promise. Everything that happens in those three and a half hours will relate to the manuscripts that they sent me–no generic lectures, I promise! My goal is that they’ll have enough feedback to know exactly the next steps they need to take to move their manuscripts a notch or two closer to publication. In addition to the time we have together as a class, I’m going to meet with each writer one-on-one for 15 minutes in the afternoon to go over their pages line by line.

Do writers need to have a completed book manuscript to benefit from Manuscript Makeover?

No, all they need are a one-page synopsis and their book’s opening 10 pages. To succeed in today’s publishing world, a writer has to have two things: A compelling story to tell and the ability to tell it well. The synopsis addresses the first, and the sample pages show the second. Some writers come to Manuscript Makeover with only an idea and a rough draft of the first chapter. They want to know if they should keep writing. Others have finished their books and wonder what the next step is. Then there are the writers who have tried to market their books but with no success. They want to know where they fell short and how to fix the problem.

Why do you limit the class size to 15 writers?

For a couple of reasons. First, I want to encourage a sense of community. After all, we’re all writers even though we may be at different stages of development. Second–and this is personal–the class is really labor-intensive for me as the facilitator. I like to read each manuscript several times, adding notes, making suggestions and editing as I go. I build the class from scratch each time I teach it. I’ve found that 15 is the perfect number.

You open the class to novelists and nonfiction writers. Why not specify one or the other?

Typically the class attracts more novelists than nonfiction authors, even though nonfiction is easier to sell these days. Regardless of the genre we choose–mystery, memoir, romance, biography, thriller, personal experience, etc.–we’re all storytellers. We have to know how to grab and hold readers’ attention, how to build tension, create dialogue and weave in backstory. Those components need to be in every story we tell.

As a teacher, what is your greatest challenge when you face a room full of writers with various skills, interests and needs?

My biggest challenge is to keep them motivated after the workshop is over. Too often they leave with good intentions, but then they get sidetracked by obligations at work or at home. Their manuscripts suddenly occupy the back burner. So, this year I’m going to try something new. The writers in my class will have the opportunity to book a half hour of my time for some time in the fall. There will be a modest fee, and not every writer will want or need to take advantage of the offer. If they do, they can choose when and how to use the time. They might decide to send me a few revised pages, or we can talk via phone about problems they’ve encountered since the July workshop. The important thing is to keep up the momentum…to keep on keeping on. As I said earlier, you need two things to succeed as a writer–a good story to tell and the ability to tell it well. But there’s a third requirement, and that’s perseverance.

Register here for Manuscript Makeover.
_______________________________________________________________
To review the full schedule for the Super Mini-conference, read here.
To review the faculty bios, read here.

MWW Super Mini-conference, July 27-28

MWW Super Mini-conference — July 27-28 at the Ball State Alumni Center, Muncie, Indiana. Friday 8:30 am through Saturday 12:30 pm.  A dynamic day-and-a-half with a decidedly different structure—shorter, smaller, less expensive, with a strong emphasis on helping you reach your writing goals.

This MWW Craft + Community super mini is designed for writers of every level in their careers.

Whether you’re a published author or a novice exploring writing for the first time, you’ll find your place here, among teachers and fellow writers in a small group environment. It’s time to grow your network and nurture your identity as a writer. We have mentors to help.

Press the reset button.

At MWW Craft + Community, you’ll experience a day and a half—long enough to get away and refocus your energy on your writing, yet short enough to accommodate your busy schedule. Come enjoy the camaraderie and receive useful guidance!

This “super mini” offers eight in-depth, hands-on interactive, small class size sessions taught by experienced, accomplished, and professional faculty:

  • Holly Miller: Manuscript Makeover
  • Matthew Clemens: Developmental Editing
  • Brent Bill: Writing from the Heart: Soulful Creativity
  • Lou Harry: Nonfiction, Writing About Everything
  • Larry D. Sweazy – Fiction, Writing Your First Novel
  • Barbara Shoup – Think Like a Teenager
  • Lucrecia Guerrero – From Where You Dream
  • Maurice Broaddus – World Building: How to Out-Imagine Your Reader

Our programming focuses on key areas such as craft improvement, genre knowledge, finding critique partners, and forming writing support groups to help improve your writing. Get feedback from experts and friendly peers. Sharing your work and reading your work will allow you to pinpoint sagging plot lines, breaks in character and more. The give-and-take, along with honest feedback, is a win for all.

We’ll have fun activities to help you find a writing community. Writing is a solitary act, a leap of faith in which we work to bring the ideas in our head, our own experiences, our research and our true and imaginary tales to life on the page. Because we labor alone, we need a community of honest supporters who can help us to see what works in our stories and what doesn’t.

MWW Craft + Community wants to give you that community. You’ll return home with new skills and insight into your writing. You’ll return home with new writing friends.

And there’s a space waiting for you.

Secure your spot today.

Cost: $199

REGISTER

[For a statement from our board, read here.]

Successful mini-conference at Brownsburg Library

We’re glad nearly 70 writers attended the MWW mini-conference, “Getting Serious About Your Writing,” Saturday morning, February 10, 2018, at the Brownsburg Public Library, Brownsburg, Indiana.

Attendees heard three multi-published authors, Nina Sadowsky, Dianne Drake, and Kelly O’Dell Stanley, share craft techniques, current publishing trends, and inside secrets through their opening addresses, instruction sessions, and a Q&A panel. Read Loretta Polaski’s article featured in March 2018’s Sisters in  Crime, Guppy Chapter newsletter, First Draft.

Welcome attendees!

Dianne Drake

Nina Sadowsky

Authors’ books available!

Nina Sadowsky

Kelly O’Dell Stanley

Dianne Drake

Breakout Session

Deepening Conflict in Your Novel with Shirley Jump

MWW Ongoing is a series of courses taught by award-winning writing instructors, and everything happens online. From the convenience of your computer, on your own time schedule, you can participate in classes to take your writing to the next level.
Check out our newest online MWW Ongoing course taught by one of our favorite instructors, New York Times bestselling author Shirley Jump. Once you register, you can do the exercises at your own pace, take any time online! The first unit is available now and the second on comes open on Monday, February 26. Shirley has great stuff for all those working to improve their novels. And her interactions on the Facebook private group with those who sign up are such a bonus.
Deepening Conflict (available now) is for people who are struggling to increase the conflict and tension in their scenes. If the book is feeling flat, or editors and readers are saying there isn’t enough conflict, this course will help. This online course will cover the difference between conflict and tension, how to create conflicts that aren’t just arguments, and developing conflict from your characters. Conflict is what keeps the engine of the plot moving, and keeps the reader turning the pages.

Shirley will cover the basics of both external and internal conflict. Learning the difference between these, how they interrelate, and how they impact the novel, is vital. You will also get to know your characters better through this process—what their fears are, what their needs are, and what roadblocks are in their way. If you are in the middle of a book and feeling stalled, this course will help you get the novel back on track. By the end of this course, you will have the tools you need to create more powerful scenes.

What This Course Specifically Teaches

  • Basics of conflict—what it is and isn’t
  • Determining internal and external conflict from the characters and plot
  • Deepening conflict on every page
  • How to analyze novels and scenes you read to pinpoint the conflict

The course is broken down into two units. The first is available now and the second is available Monday the 26th. Each unit is accompanied by several pdf handouts that build on the one before. You can start using the information immediately for your current work. Shirley is already interacting with students and answering questions within the private Facebook group. (Her recent post: “Today’s discussion topic: Think of a movie you recently saw. What would you say the main character’s external and internal conflicts were?”) The course will be available until May 31, so join any time!

UNIT ONE: Available Now

Unit One will be about getting the basics down. We will start with discussing what conflict is, how to find it in a scene, and what the difference is between internal and external conflict. Students will be asked to look at their own work and determine the main characters’ internal and external conflicts.

  • Goal Motivation Conflict
  • GMC Analysis Worksheet
  • Plotting Basics
  • Conflict: What It Is and Isn’t

UNIT TWO: Available Monday, February 26th

Unit Two will take conflict to a deeper level. We will go over the difference between tension and conflict, analyze conflict and tension in scenes, and see how well-placed hooks can build in additional tension for the book.

  • Conflict: The Missing Link
  • Tension vs. Conflict
  • Pacing Your Novel

About Shirley Jump
When she’s not writing books, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shirley Jump competes in triathlons, mostly because all that training lets her justify mid-day naps and a second slice of chocolate cake. She’s published more than 60 books in 24 languages, although she’s too geographically challenged to find any of those countries on a map. Visit her website at www.ShirleyJump.com for author news and a booklist, and follow her on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/shirleyjump.author for giveaways and deep discussions about important things like chocolate and shoes.

Cost: $75 / Register here!

Getting Serious About Your Writing Mini-conference

Kick Off 2018 With a Bang!

Take January to recover from the holidays, and then we’d love to see you in February! Midwest Writers Workshop is relaunching our popular mini conferences and hitting the road! As much as we love virtual connections, nothing compares to meeting In Real Life (IRL). Plus, this gives us the opportunity to share all the offerings we are adding.

The mini conference, “Getting Serious About Your Writing,” will take place at the Brownsburg Public Library, 450 South Jefferson Street, Brownsburg, Ind. on Saturday, February 10, 2018 from 9 a.m.-11:30 a.m. 

Check out the details:

1) Learn from three multi-published *authors who will share craft techniques, current publishing trends, and inside secrets through keynote addresses, instruction sessions, and a Q & A panel.

2) Light refreshments will be served.

3) Purchase the authors’ books on-site, and they will personally autograph them. (Or it’s okay to buy the books ahead and bring your own for an autograph.)

4) Join a small networking group by email, and possibly meet for lunch afterward (Not required. This activity is on your own, and not part of activities during the mini-conference.)

What does all of this cost?

Just **$20! Pre-registration and payment are required (no sign-ups at the door). Space is limited. Register early!

REGISTER HERE: Getting Serious About Your Writing

**Each attendee will receive an email following the mini-conference with a $20-off discount link to an online course from MWW Ongoing.

* The speakers include:

Nina Sadowsky

A New York City native, Nina R. Sadowsky is an entertainment lawyer (in recovery) who has worked as a film and television producer and writer for most of her career. Just Fall, published by Ballantine in March 2016 is her first novel, and is now in development as an original series for STARZ. Her second thriller, The Burial Society, will be published in 2017. Sadowsky is also an adjunct professor at University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, where she teaches producing and script development. She has written numerous original screenplays and adaptations and done rewrites for such companies as The Walt Disney Company and Working Title Films.

Dianne Drake

Dianne Drake is a former nurse who has now written 60 novels (mostly medical romances), as well as nine nonfiction titles. She has also had countless articles published in magazines such as Family Circle, Woman’s Day, Better Homes & Garden and Seventeen. Dianne is proud to say she got her start at a Midwest Writers Workshop back in 1993.

Kelly O’Dell Stanley

Kelly O’Dell Stanley is a graphic designer and the author of Praying Upside Down and Designed to Pray. Her writing awards include first place in Inspirational Writing in the 2013 Writer’s Digest competition. She is a regular contributor to Crosswalk.com and Internet Café Devotions, and she has written for numerous magazines and blogs.

Midwest Writers Workshop and the Brownsburg Public Library are non-profit organizations that are hosting this mini conference as a service to the public. Books for sale will be supplied by Bookmamas bookstore.

Refund policy: Sorry, but we are unable to offer refunds for this event.