mww14-recap

MWW14 – Recap

MWW14 may be in our rearview mirrors, but a lot of what we experienced and learned will always remain. We invite you to view the photos and videos, which are sure to bring back memories.

With 17 official faculty and several unofficial “Friends of MWW” (waving to Matthew Clemens and Summer Heacock, among others), attendees were faced with difficult workshop choices. Because of the possibilities available, each participant’s experience was different based on the sessions attended, the friends made, and sometimes the friendships renewed. Many had pitch sessions with one of our five literary agents, and others had a manuscript critique—or not.

Our star-studded faculty included William Kent Krueger and Elizabeth Berg, to name just two. Our interns were like elves, helping to complete many tasks. Plus, the agent panel was a must-see that left a buzz in its wake.

We found our tribes—literally—on Thursday evening, which was life-changing, in some cases. And we spent our days talking about “pacing,” “conflict,” and the extent of our “discoverability.”

How could we forget Kelsey’s marvelous stories, Jess Lourey’s novel-writing pyramid, and William Kent Krueger’s wisdom and encouragement? Plus, Allison Joseph’s and John Tribble’s tips on all things literary? Pam Mandel and Amanda Heckert shared insider secrets from editors. The list never ends.

Over lunch, Jane Friedman reminded us that 1) we should know and use our social media stats 2) “Money Ball” fans are their own demographic and 3) There’s nothing like a GIF demo of the Amazon and Hachett debacle to show how that feud hurts everyone.

For our “Evening with Elizabeth Berg” we were joined by many persons from the city who are fans of the New York Times bestselling author.  Some tidbits of the many insights she shared: “Honor your own instincts.”  “Don’t be a derivative.”  “Don’t be imitative.” “They still need good writers.” This advice was more valuable, knowing it came from someone who, after her first rejection, didn’t submit again for 25 years. She also said to hold nothing back in the writing, and shared that in her debut novel, the father was unsympathetic, much like her own father. That book helped Elizabeth to reshape her relationship with her father.

What can we say about Daniel José Older’s banquet speech? His depiction of working as an EMT in New York City was powerful, vivid and gritty. One thing’s for sure, Daniel’s talk not only pushed the envelope, but it spurred many conversations afterward. We think that’s a good thing.  The goal of our planning committee is to s-t-r-e-t-c-h our attendees by including voices, styles, genres, and tones that they haven’t previously encountered. That means spotlighting seasoned writers such as Elizabeth Berg, emerging writers such as Daniel José Older, and future best-selling authors such as the winners of our Manny writing contest.

Last, Nicholas Sparks has nothing on Midwest Writers because we’ve got “The Notebook.” This year’s program notes embody a proverbial treasure trove of information and insights. So when we want to go beyond reminiscing about MWW14, we can grab the notebook. When the snow starts to fly, or whatever winter means to our 234 of attendees who came from 20 states and 3 countries this year, we can relive summer in Muncie.

Don’t get us wrong. We know MWW14 wasn’t perfect—scrambling for chairs at the buttonhole event will be remedied next year—but many have told us they are planning to return in 2015. Yay! The committee is already hard at work to make MWW15 a great one!

 

Cathy Day: Storyboard Your Novel

2011 Midwest Writers Workshop – “Creating the Storyboard for Your Novel” – Cathy Day. Most of us learn to write by focusing on short, manageable story forms, such as flash fiction, short stories, or essays. But how do we move from “the small thing” to “the big thing”? In this intensive prose session, author Cathy Day will offer practical advice on how to make this shift in your writing life, including in-class writing exercises that will help you create a blueprint or “storyboard” for the book you want to write. Participants are encouraged to bring a package or two of index cards or Post-it Notes (low-tech option) or a laptop equipped with a software program they are already familiar with, like Scrivener (high-tech option). Come with an idea for a book you want to write, not one you have already written.

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Holly Miller: Manuscript Makeover

2011 Midwest Writers Workshop – “Manuscript Makeover” — Dennis Hensley & Holly Miller. This interactive intensive is designed for those fiction and nonfiction writers who are ready to take a quantum leap forward in enhancing their writing skills. Participants will submit the first 10 pages of a manuscript in progress. The instructors will edit and critique these pages and display them (anonymously) to the class as a way of revealing strengths and weaknesses in the material. Additionally, the instructors will lead the students in writing exercises and offer advice on such topics as enhancing dialogue, learning to self-edit, mastering proofreading, finding the right markets for manuscripts and knowing when and how to go into writing full-time.

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Mike Lawson: Writing Thrillers

2011 Midwest Writers Workshop – “What I’ve Learned About Writing Thrillers/Mysteries” – Mike Lawson. Author of six acclaimed political thrillers, Mike will share what he’s learned about the craft. Topics include the need for a strong beginning and how to create one; the pitfalls of writing a mystery series; how to make your stories ring true; how to improve the pace of your mystery/thriller; and some practical advice on of the business aspects of writing such as the author/agent/publisher relationship and lessons learned in promoting books. Participants will be requested to share their experiences.

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Patti Digh: From Blog to Book

2011 Midwest Writers Workshop – Nonfiction “From Blog to Book” – Are you a blogger who longs for a book contract? Or have you thought of starting a blog to get a book contract? We’ve all heard of six-figure advances being paid to bloggers to turn their blogs into books. Those stories have spurred many people to create blogs – without having anything to say, or without identifying what they long to say. In this hands-on session, we’ll explore why blogging is a good first step to writing a book — and, conversely, why and how focusing on the book deal splits our focus. We’ll explore where we need to stand to tell our stories, how to open space to tell them, how to interact with a blog audience in a way that doesn’t change our voice, and how to define and clarify the organizing principles of both a blog and book. Many of us write from a place of split intentions: we want to tell our story AND we want the audience to love us. This session focused on stepping out of that split intention. It focused more on voice and writing than on book deals, though a Q&A session during the session opened space for sharing of information on the publishing process.

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Libby Fischer Hellmann: Mystery Writing

2011 Midwest Writers Workshop — “Anatomy of a Crime Novel: The Craft of Crime Fiction” – Libby Fischer Hellmann. It is said that writing a publishable novel is 5% inspiration and 95% perspiration. In this hands-on intensive session, you’ll sweat it out by exploring the elements of craft that make a crime fiction novel impossible to put down. Whether you write cozies or hard-boiled, PI or amateur sleuth, you’ll learn how the effective use of plot, narrative, voice, setting, character, dialogue, and suspense can take your work to the next level. The workshop will focus on the practical as opposed to the theoretical, so be prepared for plenty of exercises and discussion.

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JT Dutton: Writing the YA Novel

2011 Midwest Writers Workshop – “Writing the Young Adult Novel for the Young Adult at Heart” – JT Dutton. Do you have a vampire in your closet? Werewolves at your door? Or a story to tell about what it feels like to be young and full of dreams? Some novels we read, some we live. Join this intensive workshop to learn how to craft believable teen characters and write the novel you’ve been imagining ever since you first felt swept away by Catcher in the Rye or Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The workshop will focus on honing the literary elements of Young Adult fiction with special emphasis on voice, character, narrative and pace. Our discussions will not be limited to specific sub-genres of Young Adult but cover the range from romance to edgy. Be prepared to learn lots of interesting new writing strategies.

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