Writing from the Dreamscape and Other Avenues toward Writing

What will you discover about yourself and your writing when you come to the Super mini-conference?

MWW Board member and poet Michael Brockley shared his thoughts… Writing from the Dreamscape and Other Avenues toward Writing about What You Want to Know

Although I am a poet, I try to put myself in positions to learn beyond the scope of the alchemical secrets we learn in poetry workshops. Humor classes always pique my interest as do sessions on tall tales, flash fiction, translating, writing as a form of therapy and prose poetry. The latter changed my literary life. And to this day, I regret having missed a workshop in Indianapolis which was advertised as an exploration of the role recurring images serve in one’s work.

I am looking forward to this year’s Super Mini-conference in Muncie because it is constructed in such a way as to promote not only writing, but writing about what I want to know. Workshops that feel as if the thing I want to know is within reach. I encourage myself to seek writing insights from sources outside my Pandora’s box because such genre-hopping forces me to write outside of my comfort zone. To reveal to myself this unknown unknown. This makes, for instance, Lucrecia Guerrero’s From Where You Dream so enticing. The possibility of opening a door in my brain that puts me at the threshold of a new direction, something darker or funnier or maybe something that puts me in an unfurnished room in my brain. Maurice Broaddus with his World Building seminar might provide more environmental roughage to nurture my Aloha Shirt Man’s surreal adventures or stoke the apocalyptic world my anonymous second person singular protagonist navigates.

But enough about me. What about you? Do you have a mystery detective who could benefit from ecstatic moments such as might be drawn from Brent Bill’s Soulful Creativity workshop? Maybe your romantic lead has a teenage son or daughter who sounds too much like your favorite rock-and-roll singer who is pushing 50. Thinking Like a Teenager, Barb Shoup’s offering, could jack up the parent-adolescent strife to such an extent that it jazzes your story with a new dimension or new character. For you see, once changes are introduced to your comfort zone you have no choice but to turn the handle on the Unchosen Door, the one you’ve always wanted to open. The light under that door shines with a color you can’t name and the sounds you hear might be grief or joy. Open the door and take a vacation through your dreamscape with your unconscious sidekick. Discover the worlds yet unbuilt that only you can raise. The seeds of writing within your soul await. Think once more in the way you did before you had a driver’s license. When you first began defining love for yourself. Come to the MWW Super Mini-conference on July 27 and July 28 at the Ball State Alumni Center in Muncie, Indiana. Come to begin your first (or your next) novel and leave with the passion to write about everything.

*****

Mike echoes what Brent Bill responded to this question: For writers who are unsure about which classes to attend at the July MWW Super Mini-conference, what criteria should they use in making their choices?

Brent: “One obvious piece of advice is to attend a workshop that most closely aligns with the kind of writing you want to do. A second, and I think just as valuable piece, is to sign up for a workshop completely outside of your primary interest. I did that when I signed up for my first MWW conference in the late 1980s — a poetry workshop. I like poetry, but had no intention of writing any poetry. The instructor, Mary Brown, was insightful and her exercises and information on writing poetry were very helpful to my writing (and by then I’d written six books). The lessons I learned in that class took my writing deeper in ways that I doubt any other course could have.”

Come and discover!

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To register for MWW Super-Mini, go to here.

Scholarship applications information, here.
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We have UPDATED the full schedule for the Super Mini-conference, read here.
To review the faculty bios, read here.

Build a dynamic world for your story to inhabit

During the next few weeks building up to the Super Mini-conference (July 27-28, Ball State Alumni Center, Muncie, IN), we will feature interviews with our faculty members.

If you write fiction, especially world building, you should think about registering for Maurice Broaddus’ Friday all-morning session “World Building: How to Out-Imagine Your Reader.” As Maurice explains, “Every story needs a setting: a sense of WHERE and WHEN it takes place. World building is the process by which we create an imaginary world or build a fictional universe. The workshop will present tips on how to build a dynamic world for your story to inhabit (with in-class writing!).”

Maurice will also teach a session “Characterization Through Dialogue” because characters are at the heart of stories and dialogue helps define characters and drive story. In this workshop, he will help you develop characters, consider word choice, and define their voice through dialogue. His session will present essential tips to improve dialogue and explore how to write dialogue that rings true, deepens character, creates tension, and more.

Maurice Broaddus is the author of steampunk adventures, fantasy and horror, and best known for his short fiction and his Knights of Breton Court novel trilogy. A community organizer and teacher, his work has appeared in Lightspeed Magazine, Weird Tales, Apex Magazine, Asimov’s, Cemetery Dance, Black Static, and many more. Some of his stories have been collected in The Voices of Martyrs. He co-authored the play Finding Home: Indiana at 200. His novellas include Buffalo Soldier, I Can Transform You, Orgy of Souls, Bleed with Me, and Devil’s Marionette. He is the co-editor of Dark Faith, Dark Faith: Invocations, Streets of Shadows, and People of Colo(u)r Destroy Horror. Learn more about him at MauriceBroaddus.com.

Former MWW intern Amanda Byk asked Maurice a few interview questions for some advice to the attendees and to help us learn a bit more about him as a writer and faculty member.

MWW: How will you design your MWW class so participants–from wannabee to published author–leave with great info that will nudge their writing careers forward?

MB: Whenever I prepare a workshop, I approach it from the standpoint of anyone’s writing can be improved. If I’m talking about dialogue or world-building, a newer writer will pick up a lot (and hopefully not be overwhelmed) and a published writer can use either the refresher or look to refine what they already do well.

MWW: If you were hospitalized for three months but not really too sick, whom (and it can’t be a relative) would you want in the next bed?

MB: My buddy J.J. I know he will 1) let me write (because a hospital bed is just an expensive fancy writer’s retreat to me), 2) let me bounce ideas off him, 3) he’ll read whatever I come up with, and 4) watch the same tv shows I watch (and comics I read and games I play). Hope you weren’t looking for anything too deep.

MWW: When you hit the wall and nothing is working on your computer screen, how do you clear your head and refresh? Do you power down and go to a movie, or do you just keep pounding the keys? Advice?

MB: I do the dishes or laundry. Some mindless task that takes a while that will allow my mind to drift and my creative muscle to do its thing. My wife LOVES it when I hit a wall.

MWW: Tell us about your first manuscript sale. What was it? How did you get the news? Did you frame the check or cash it ASAP for fear the editor might have second thoughts?  How did you celebrate? Who was the first person you told? How much time passed before you sold a second mss?

MB: Back in that halcyon days of 1999, I got the news via a letter. That was also back when we had to mail out manuscripts via the postal system. It was my story “Soul Food” for the magazine Hoodz. My first few sales (probably six months or so later), I Xeroxed the checks and then cashed them immediately. I kept the checks on file as encouragement (since I was still hanging up my rejection letters as wallpaper back then, too).

Then, as I do to this day, I have my “cigar moment”: I tell my wife, we do a happy dance, and then I enjoy a tasty beverage of some sort (since I don’t actually smoke). But I think it important to take the time to celebrate a sale since I also have a rejection ritual to mourn a market saying “no” to a story before I suck it up and send it back out again.

MWW: A lot of new writers fear that they can’t possibly be successful in the competitive world of publishing. Shoot down these reasons for their lack of confidence:

  • I don’t live in the “fast lane”- NYC or the West Coast – whatever, I live in Indianapolis.
  • I never took a writing class in college, high school, etc. – doesn’t matter if you have an MFA. It all boils down to the right story to the right market.
  • I’m too old – good, you have life experience to draw from.
  • I’m too young – good, you have more time to learn and make connections.
  • I don’t have a “platform.” (I don’t even know what a platform is!) – platforms are overrated, especially if what you’re writing isn’t aimed at that platform. All that time not building your platform can go into writing your next story.
  • I don’t have an agent – they aren’t necessary for short story sales.
  • My book manuscript has been rejected (fill in the blank) times – my first novel never sold. Neither did my second, third, or fourth. The next ten did though.
  • I’ve heard it’s impossible for an unpublished writer to get a book contract – everyone starts off unpublished.

Come meet Maurice!

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To register for MWW Super-Mini, go to here.
Scholarship applications information, here.
We have UPDATED the full schedule for the Super Mini-conference, read here.
To review the faculty bios, read here.

Build the skills you need to finish that first novel

Are you writing your first novel?

If the answer is “YES,” then MWW Super Mini-conference has a session just for you!

We are pleased to have Larry D. Sweazy returning to Midwest Writers Workshop for the Super Mini-conference this July 27-28 at the Ball State Alumni Center, Muncie, Indiana. Larry is an exceptional instructor, warm, friendly and encouraging to everyone.

He is the award-winning author of thirteen novels, including the Lucas Fume Western series, the Josiah Wolfe Texas Ranger series, as well as the Marjorie Trumaine mystery series. His books have been translated by major publishers in Italy and Turkey and he has published over seventy nonfiction articles and short stories. Writers in his previous MWW sessions had this to say:

“Larry Sweazy was great and very informative.”

“He had enthusiasm, courtesy and knowledge and a great personality”

“Larry was excellent. The exercises were a little scary but very helpful and fun.”

“He did a great job! He made things clear and was approachable, accessible and valuable.”

We asked Larry to tell us about what he will teach at the Super Mini.

MWW: You’re offering a hands-on class Friday morning. [Here’s the full description.]

Fiction: Writing Your First Novel – Here’s the big secret about writing first novels: The hardest part writing a first novel is finishing it. Great ideas tire out. Real life gets in the way. Doubt over takes the dream. In this interactive workshop, Larry D. Sweazy will share proven tips and help you to build the skills a new writer needs to finish that special first novel. Topics discussed will be time management, building a toolbox, finding support, writing tips, and most importantly living life as writer–even if you’re not published. Participants may send in two double-spaced pages for a brief critique, and should come prepared to write in class.

Can you tell us more about what that class will be about? What can writers expect to come away with from it?  

LDS: Writing a first novel is a luxury. Most writers don’t realize this until it’s too late. There’s no deadline, no editor waiting at the other end, no marketing department, no critics, no expectation of a follow-up novel in the next year. There’s more freedom for a writer writing a first novel than any other, but yet it’s the most difficult to finish. Doubt is a constant companion. Fear resides at the end of every sentence. Most first novels are abandoned. Maybe they’re picked back up later, and maybe not. The love affair with the first novel is tumultuous.

I hope to give writers a few practical tools that will encourage them to finish that first novel, help them realize where they are in the journey so they can get on with the work of being a writer, and start their next novel. We’ll discuss time management, overcoming excuses, how the publishing industry works, and hopefully, everything in between. We’ll also get to some writing exercises and critiques to round out the experience of being a new writer.

MWW: You’re known these days as a mystery writer (your third Marjorie Trumaine novel, See Also Proof, released May 1st) but you’ve also written many westerns. Was it difficult to switch genres? Do you feel having written westerns gave you a different approach to mysteries?

LDS: That’s an interesting question, and one I hope that can be instructive. I’ve written a lot of stories that were neither westerns or mysteries. I’ve published ghost stories, literary stories, action adventure stories, and some nonfiction work thrown in, too. I love writing westerns and historical fiction, and I also love writing mysteries. But more than anything, I love writing stories. I think the story should pick the genre, not the other way around. So, to answer your question, yes, I think my writing experience affects everything I write. I like to write with a large palette, and anything that serves the story is fair game. We’ll discuss genres in both of my classes, the good, bad, and the ugly, as well as some traps to avoid along the way.

MWW: We’re looking forward to your Saturday morning wake-up session with Matthew Clemens. You’ll be talking about “What’s Your Dream?” Can you give us a bit of a preview by telling us a little about your dream? 

LDS: I knew I wanted to be a writer from a young age, so the dream was simple: Be a working writer when I grew up. But my journey was not as simple. Getting published was not easy, and staying published is not easy. Sitting down in the chair day after day, year after year presents daunting challenges along the way, but the dream has never changed for me. I still want to be a writer more than anything else.

larrydsweazy.com

Follow on Twitter: @larrydsweazy

www.facebook.com/larrysweazyauthor

PRAISE FOR MARJORIE TRUMAINE SERIES:

“The more you get to know Marjorie Trumaine, the more you will want to know her.” –Reviewing The Evidence

“A riveting and expertly crafted story…. I couldn’t put this book down. It’s one of the best mysteries I’ve read in a long time, and I look forward to more in this engaging and powerful series.” -DAVID BELL, award-winning and bestselling author of Somebody I Used to Know 
“A dark, complex mystery with well-developed characters deeply rooted in their small-town rural setting. Larry D. Sweazy gives mystery readers a rich, satisfying read.” -KAT MARTIN, New York Times-bestselling author of Against the Wind

“Marjorie is the kind of gritty heroine, playing the cards she was dealt with pragmatism and intelligence, who will keep readers engaged in this series.” -Killer Nashville

“Brimming with atmosphere and filled with well-drawn characters, See Also Deception is bound to delight mystery readers everywhere. Marjorie Trumaine rings as solid and true as any heroine ever created.” -SUSAN CRANDALL, bestselling author of Whistling Past the Graveyard

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To register for Larry’s session, “Fiction: Writing Your First Novel,” go here.

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To review the full schedule for the Super Mini-conference, read here.

To review the faculty bios, read here.

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.
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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.]

Writing from the Heart: Soulful Creativity with J. Brent Bill

Online courses provide great opportunities for everyone who wants to learn something. From the comfort of your home, or even the comfort of your jammies, you can learn on your own time schedule and participate in classes that will help take your writing to the next level.
Our newest MWW Ongoing course is Writing from the Heart: Soulful Creativity taught by J. Brent Bill. The course starts March 26 and will be available through July.

Who This Course Will Help

This course is for both unpublished and published authors who wish to write in a way that connects with readers – and themselves – at the deepest levels. Many writers are technically sound and fine thinkers. True connection with readers requires more, however. The secret to making that connection, whether you write fiction or non-fiction, is writing from the heart.

Many of us approach writing by wondering what readers, editors, and publishers want. Instead, this course will focus on what interests us as writers. What things are we most passionate about and do we dare write about them?

This course offers tips and techniques for connecting with your writer’s heart – and discovering themes and concerns that will bring your writing to life.

 

What This Course Teaches

This four-week course offers practical ways for involving head, heart, and craft in writing – with a particular emphasis on tapping into your heart. Each lesson will include opening thoughts by Brent and then lead into exercises regarding that week’s topic.

The course officially begins on Monday, March 26, when the first full unit will become available to all students. Lessons related to the week’s theme will appear on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Units 2-4 will be available on the following Mondays: April 2, 9, 16.

Unit One: Heart and Mind

The first week will explore how we link head and craft with heart. It uses concrete exercises that will tap into what you know – and don’t know you know. We’ll also look at the places where heart and head intersect so that we can produce powerful writing.

Unit Two: Heart and Body

In our second week, we will go deeper in exploring the personal by adding body to heart. We will work with exercises that explore like-heartedness, but not necessarily like-mindedness as a way to connect with readers whose life experiences are different from our own.

Unit Three: Putting it All Together: Heart, Body, and Mind

During week three, you’ll delve into a deep personal experience from the perspective of heart instead of head. You’ll learn how to bring all the senses (physical, emotional, mental) to bear in bringing the story to life.

Unit Four: Going Long and Deep

Week four will pull all the learning from the first three weeks into a longer writing project where you can draw on what you’ve experienced. As with the previous weeks, it will include practical tips and guided exercises.

 

What This Course Includes

Weekly Assignments for completion at your own pace—designed to help you put what you learn into action.

You’ll also:

  • Receive suggestions for reading and other resources for you to go deeper in writing from the heart
  • Be able to chat with Brent in real time (video, audio, and text) during his weekly online office hours (2 separate hour per week)
  • Have access to a dedicated private Facebook page where you can (if you choose)
    • ask questions and engage in discussions with Brent and the other course participants. Brent will check the page daily for questions and comments.
    • share your work based on the exercise and invite feedback from the other course participants

A review (via email) by Brent of up to ten pages of a manuscript in which you’ve put some of the learning from this course into practice.

Cost: $150. Register HERE

About the Instructor

With more than twenty books and numerous articles and short stories published since the 1980s, Brent has learned a thing or three about writing. His book titles include Life Lessons from a Bad Quaker: A Humble Stumble Toward Simplicity and Grace, Sacred Compass: The Way of Spiritual Discernment; and Holy Silence: The Gift of Quaker Spirituality. He’s a writing coach, editor, photographer, and retreat leader.

One reviewer said of Brent that he’s “… a substantial spiritual guide, but never in a flashy way. Think of – oh, perhaps something like Mister Rogers Meets the Dalai Lama.” Brent is a member of Spirituality & Practice’s Living Spiritual Teachers Project.

A MWW alumnus, Brent lives on Ploughshares Farm – 50 acres of Indiana farmland being reclaimed for native hardwood forests and warm season prairie grasses.

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.

Your goal for 2018? | It’s Time to Start Your Novel

Back by popular demand, Cathy Day’s MWW Ongoing course, “It’s Time To Start Your Novel,” will be offered in January. If your New Year’s Resolution for 2018 is to start writing, then this course is for you!

The registration for our MWW Ongoing course IT’S TIME TO START YOUR NOVEL begins December 18, 2017 and the course starts Monday, January 8, 2018. REGISTER NOW!

Cathy was also interviewed by John Strauss for Indiana Weekend on Indiana Public Radio. Listen as she discusses what her course offers to those interested in starting a novel.

Students registered for the course become a community through the private Facebook Group (which you can join after you register!). Here are a few comments from the students in last year’s course: (Note the exclamation points.)

  • This class is like an instruction manual, which I love! 
  • I am loving this class! I’m learning so much! 
  • I’ve loved Cathy’s challenges to choose characters, POV, clocks, etc. because it has forced me to make decisions.
  • I LOVED this unit!!! I am so excited about this course! I’m learning so much! I have always wanted to write a novel but had no idea how to go about it. Now I actually feel like it is within reach! Thank you so much for teaching this course, Cathy!
  • I have found Ms. Day’s course to be most excellent. I particularly appreciate her discussions of 1) preparation(s), and 2) character. These are exceedingly helpful.

This course is for everyone who ever thought, “I think I might have a novel inside me.” Understand though: you will not “write a novel” in this course–you will prepare yourself to start (or re-start) one. Think of it as a cooking course in which you spend the first class cleaning the kitchen and prepping the ingredients. Think of it as a marathon-running course in which you spend the first class buying a good pair of shoes. Your chances of drafting an entire novel increase exponentially when you spend some time preparing yourself for the journey ahead.

You’ll learn a great deal about your process without having to fret about the quality of your work. You’ll generate a lot of writing about the novel you want to write, get to know your characters, learn to think in terms of scenes not sentences, and make some crucial early decisions about point of view and structure that will save you a lot of time down the road.

At the end of the course, you’ll be ready and excited and poised to start writing your novel.

What This Course Specifically Teaches

  • intense focus on the writing process and on developing a writing regimen
  • writing assignments which will help you gather material, develop your plot, and get to know your characters
  • practice creating an outline or storyboard of your book
  • analysis of a novel that will serve as a model

The course is broken down into four big-picture units, further described below. Each unit offers a series of mini-lessons (about 5 to 10 minutes each) that build on each other. It will take you about four full hours to go through all of the instruction. You can pause to write when inspired and review the material on your own. Lessons are presented as audio-visual lectures that you can watch on any device (video/screencast).

Read how Cathy’s course changed the life of one writer!