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.
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!
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:
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 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.
Refund policy: Sorry, but we are unable to offer refunds for this event.
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!
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).
The Write Gift — write here, write now
There’s still time to order MWW Gift certificates for the writers in your life!
Every writer wants to get better, and the best way to do that is in a supportive, welcoming community. That’s why Midwest Writers Workshop offers gift certificates in any amount. Nudge the writer in your life to take that next step.
Order your gift certificate HERE!
We will snail mail you a personalized certificate, good for one year from purchase date, that can be applied towards any of our offerings, including:
- MWW Ongoing (online courses and programs)
- Membership in MWW Plus, which offers discounts on all learning opportunities–workshops, online courses, and mentoring services–plus other benefits exclusive to the MWW Plus Community
- Our 2018 Midwest Writers Workshop (held July 19-21) — apply to Part I, Part II, or both
- Workshop extras: manuscript evaluations, query letter critique, head shots, and other professional appointments offered as part of MWW
- MWW merchandise offered for sale at our events
- Mini Workshops (1-2 offered per year) — watch our website and our E-pistle for details about the next one, coming up on February 10, 2018!
- and more.
AND check the MIDWEST WRITERS WORKSHOP FACEBOOK PAGE for our Facebook Live 2018 FACULTY REVEAL on December 30th!
MWW announces its the newest MWW Ongoing course, “The Building Blocks of a Great Novel,” taught by the bestselling author Dianne Drake. This 6-unit course also includes a manuscript evaluation. Registration is now available!
Dianne says, “The goal of this course is not to teach you HOW to write your novel, but to help you discover all the key elements common to every great novel — elements that will make your novel great, too!”
- Choosing Your Genre
- Goal, Motivation & Conflict
- Defining Your Point of View
- Finding Your Voice
- Creating Your Characters
- Dialogue, Narrative & Exposition
What the Course Includes
- Instructional sections that you can read on your own time, at your own convenience. This Prezi format is not a live presentation, and new lessons will not “drip” at various intervals during the course. Once you have registered, the entire course will be available to you, to access at any time you wish.
- Assignments for completion at your own pace–designed to help you put what you learn into action.
- Q&A time through a private Facebook forum designed especially for this course, plus discussions and handouts
- AND each student will receive A FREE MANUSCRIPT EVALUATION AT THE END OF THE COURSE. Translated to mean 10 pages of a manuscript critique along with one deep editing pass.
CHOOSE YOUR GENRE: a discussion of what genre is; how to find the genre that works best for you, a reader’s expectation of genre, and much more.
GOAL, MOTIVATION & CONFLICT: the backbone of all great novels. What is GMC? How do you use it? Define it? Why developing your GMC will give you a head start on your novel that many writers skip. Also, how to apply GMC in your work for the best results.
DEFINING A POINT OF VIEW. Every book has one, so do most major characters. POV gives you a perspective of your story that no one else has. It also defines you, as writer, in your story.
FINDING YOUR VOICE. It’s unique. It’s you on the page-the way you present your story and yourself. It’s what your readers will relate to more than anything else, and what your editors expect to be so “you” your work will stand out in the pile. And, it’s what brings readers back to you and your books.
CREATING CHARACTERS. Good stories have good characters, great stories have great characters. This lesson will teach you everything you need to know about your characters, from naming them, to giving them the perfect backstory, to scripting them in a manner that your readers want more of them.
DIALOGUE, NARRATIVE & EXPOSITION. In other words, the whole ball of wax. How your story goes down on paper. Word choices. What resonates with readers and what doesn’t. This is the nitty-gritty about your writing and how to make the most of it so your next book contract will come knocking on your door almost before you’ve completed the current WIP (work in progress).
Looking to prepare for NaNoWriMo?
This six-unit series is for you!
The cost: $149 (includes manuscript critique!) Register HERE.
Join the course’s private Facebook community!
When you register for this course, you will be invited to a private Facebook group created for live interactions and questions.
I encourage lots and lots of questions and comments, anything you wish to address. I will also drop several handouts into the files — things I like to share with my students that may not necessarily have a proper place in the class. In addition, I will check in on the Facebook group several times a day, to answer questions, participate in discussions or to simply see how it’s going. If Facebook isn’t your thing, or you wish to discuss something privately, I’ll be happy to keep you caught up on my private email.
About the Instructor
There wasn’t a time in her life when Dianne wasn’t writing something. The first real try she remembers came when she was aged 6, with a poem titled, “If I Had a Pony.” It was a lame attempt at getting her parents to buy her a pony, which didn’t work, but in that poem Dianne discovered she loved to write. So, she did…through grade school, high school, college school, music school, nursing school, grad school…It was always there. In Dianne’s life, there was always something to write about. Funny thing was, she wasn’t taking the hint. Not even when articles she was writing for professional medical journals were being published.
One day, though, Dianne’s mother died. She was too young. And she also died unfulfilled…full of hopes and dreams she never went after. This was at a time when Dianne was facing a disability that would eventually leave her with some very difficult physical challenges. Still, she didn’t want to end up like her mother, wasting a life of dreams that never had a chance. But, what to do? This is when, what Dianne calls, “The Post Card from God,” arrived. It was an ad for a writing workshop being held in Muncie, Indiana. Midwest Writers Workshop (1993) as it turned out. So, in her hand she had the opportunity to fulfill a dream she’d never really latched on to, but one that had always latched onto her. But, could she write for real? She’d always written, but to be a real writer?
Dianne did go to Muncie that year, totally nervous, but hopeful. And to shorten the story, 6 months later, her first-ever consumer article appeared in Woman’s Day. From there came hundreds more articles, 9 nonfiction books and the true dream of her heart — 57 (soon to be 61) romance novels for Harlequin Books. Yes, her true writing dream was to be a romance writer. Was the journey simple? Never. Was it worth it? Always. “The dream was always there. I just had to wake it up. It makes me sad knowing my mother was contented letting her dreams slip away because she missed a life that might have changed many things for her. But in watching her let her dreams pass her by, I discovered my own dream. I always wanted to write because I always wrote. No matter what happened in my life, I wrote about it. Big things, little things…none of it mattered. What did matter, though, was that my dream was always there with me and I was, and am blessed, to have it every day of my life. I was meant to be a writer. It was my dream, and it was my destiny.”
Dianne’s next two books from Harlequin Mills & Boon Medicals will be released simultaneously in January, 2018. Be on the lookout for Reunited with Her Army Doc and Healing Her Boss’s Heart — two connected stories about the healing powers of love, home and friendship. Also, keep up with Dianne’s new releases and news on her website at www.Dianne-Drake.com and her Facebook page DianneDrakeAuthor.
We’re heading into the last three months of the year. How does that make you feel? Are you where you want to be with your writing goals?
It’s a good time to dust off your writing goals for 2017 and see how you’re doing. What have you achieved that was on your list? In what ways have you exceeded your goals?
Have you fallen behind in some areas?
No matter where you are with your goals right now, the #1 way to finish the year strong is to Decide to Do It. Make a decision.
As the holidays approach, it will be easy to get caught up in everything except writing. Sometimes, we just assume that we won’t get much done at this time of year. But what if you decided this year will be different? You’re still going to enjoy your holidays, but you’re going to carve out some time for writing.
Having accountability partners may be one way we can help you carry out your goals at this time of hustle and bustle.
That’s why MWW has designed a free event called Finish Strong. It works like this. You decide what you want to accomplish by the end of the year. Are you going to go for it with NANO (write a novel in the month of November)? Is a book list calling to you, of reading you want to do, that will make your writing stronger?
Whatever it is that you want to accomplish, let’s help one another get there together.
We’ll post some inspirational information at least once a week, to help you keep on track. There is a private Facebook group for everyone registered for this event to share information. If you want to share your goals, that’s fine. If you want to share what is working for you, others may benefit. Those who have questions on how to achieve their goals will be able to ask the group, and see if someone can help. To be honest, this event will take shape based on who signs up and how they are able to participate (or not participate, if they only want to read the official posts).
We’ve said it before and will say it again. One of MWW’s greatest assets is the talented participants. We hope this event will be a virtual extension of the conference. Feel free to share with your friends. Anyone can register.
Cathy Shouse, a MWW board member, is putting together this group. All she asks is that you sign up. Imagine how great you will feel when 2018 rolls in, if you Made the Decision to Finish Strong for 2017.
Before you go, we’ve included this video clip from MWW 2017 below for inspiration. It’s just some writers sharing their thoughts. Look for Becky Albertalli’s’ snippet about protecting her writing time. Be reminded that you are not alone in this writing journey.
Register HERE for Finish Strong.
It’s hard to believe Midwest Writers Workshop happened about two months ago.
Which means, it’s that time of year when . . .
Some of us on the committee ask this burning question:
What are some ways writers keep themselves motivated in between conferences?
This is an excellent question, and we don’t think we’re alone with it. We consider ourselves very enthusiastic when it comes to writing. But, so many things can happen to take down our enthusiasm. We might have come home from MWW, sent out the requested material, and waited. Maybe we are still waiting.
Or we didn’t get a request at all.
Maybe we got cold feet once we got home, and told ourselves we needed to revise before we sent the requested material–and we’re still revising. Quite possibly, we didn’t end up sending the material at all.
Did you know? A large number of writers don’t send in the material that was requested at conferences at all? Nada. Zip.
And truth be told, some people who do send in their requested material never hear back from the person who requested it at conference.
But shake all of that off.
On a happy note, others may have book contracts by now (waving at Annie Sullivan.) Or they’ve gotten an agent.
The truth is, no matter what has happened–or not happened since conference, our enthusiasm for writing might be lagging a bit.
Probably the biggest reason is that we’re not spending enough time with other writers, like we did when we were in our MWW conference bubble.
So, we’ve created a list of the Top 3 Ways to Keep Yourself Writing
1. Stay engaged with other writerly people in RL (Real Life) any way you can.
Do a search and find out what’s going on around you. Go to that book signing that is an hour away (and put on your extroverted expression and talk to some people). Go to a lecture at a college, because all thoughts on any topic can stimulate your writing. Join a book club, if just for one session. Coordinate a writers lunch get-together, even if the people don’t write in your genre, or are earlier in their journeys than you are (even if you secretly think everything they write is weird). Just do something. You’ll feel better and write with more enthusiasm. We call this being a good literary citizen.
2. Sign up for an online course.
Let’s face it. Some of us live in outlying areas. MWW committee member Cathy Shouse lives in what was literally a cornfield. Some nights, the coyotes are “talking” with her dogs. So she’s learned that a good, interactive online course is just what she needs to keep focused on her writing goals. She likes to be in a virtual class with writers. (Note: MWW has a program called MWW Ongoing that offers exceptional, unique, interactive online courses. See details below).
3. Develop your online presence (which also secretly builds your platform).
Reach out to publishing people on social media. If you read a blog, leave a comment, even if it is as simple as “I enjoyed this. Good job!” Follow authors you like on Facebook. If they ask a question, join in and respond to it. When you have a following on FB, you can ask people questions–and they may actually answer.
BONUS: Renew your writing enthusiasm by watching the MWW17 highlights video below, created by Matt Shouse.
Just over 3 minutes long, use the video to play a game. First, see if you can find yourself.
Next, see if you can find these publishing all-stars in the footage, because it was a Who’s Who of publishing this summer. Some of them are named, but many go by too quickly for that. So whether you can spot them or not, go visit their websites. Check out the free samples of their books. Follow them on Facebook, send out a Tweet, or even drop them a fan letter (“charming note”) email.
The following are some names to look for: Angie Thomas, Becky Albertalli, Annie Sullivan, Jessica Strawser, Amy Reichert, Summer Heacock, Nina Sadowsky, John Gilstrap, Agent/author Eric Smith, and the list goes on, and on.
To see what course we’re currently offering online, here’s the link to MWW Ongoing. (Good News: you can still register and catch up on the lessons!) Email Director Jama at email@example.com if you have questions about the classes or if you want to join. AND get ready for October because Dianne Drake’s new course “The Building Blocks of a Great Novel” is coming down the track. Details coming soon.
Now, if this message and material has helped you, would you do us a favor? Please forward this message to a writer friend who might enjoy it. If you feel like it, suggest that they subscribe to our MWW e-newsletter.
And we would love for you to say who you spotted in the video that made you smile. Please tell us on our Facebook page.
Let’s all get back to writing.
If you’ve ever wished for a way to continue growing with your writing all year long, from the comfort of your home, now you can! 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 MWW Ongoing course taught by New York Times bestselling author Shirley Jump.
Shirley Jump’s The Brainmap Technique develops fully formed characters before a single word is written, resulting in a stronger, more powerful–and more emotional story. This 4-week course starts Monday, Sept. 4, with each unit available on the following Mondays (Sept 11, 18, 25). Cost: $75.
Who This Course Will Help
This course is for writers who are looking for a way to plot a unique, character-driven novel. This course will cover all the pre-work needed to develop a compelling, layered character with a full history. From that, the plot will develop, thus building an intriguing novel with a strong emotional hook for the reader.
Editors love books that are character driven and have layered plots. The Brainmap Technique develops fully formed characters before a single word is written, resulting in a stronger, more powerful–and more emotional story. If you’re stuck in your writing, needing inspiration or just want to learn more about developing characters and developing a multi-layered plot, you’ll get the boost you need for this class with this technique. By the end of this workshop, participants will have everything they need to write a character-based plot that has emotional depth, character-driven conflict, and memorable page-turning twists.
What you will learn
- How to develop a character’s past, family relationships and motivations
- Use this to develop a character-based plot
- An in-depth analysis of your character’s behavior and choices
- A richer, more emotionally based book
The course is broken down into four units. Each unit is accompanied by several handouts that build on the one before. You can start using the information immediately for your current work. But you can start when you are ready. The material will be available to you until October 31. Questions about the material and how it applies to your story will be answered within the private Facebook group.
Unit One will be about getting the basics down. We will start with the basics of who your character is, based on their dominant impression, then why they are in that career. How their education impacted that choice and where it has brought them to at the start of your novel.
- Basics of the Brainmap
- Brainmap Center
- Brainmap Spoke One
Unit Two will take the Brainmap to a deeper level. We will discuss the multiple layers of family relationships and look at how those have impacted your character. This particular section of the brainmap is vital in shaping your character.
- Brainmap Spoke Two
- Brainmap Spoke Three
- Brainmap Example
Unit Three will explore past relationships and their impact on your character. What type of person they choose, how it impacted their life, and where that has brought them now. For those writing novels with a romance thread, this section will form the basis of the romantic conflict. We will also discuss the last two spokes of the brainmap to create a fully-fleshed out character.
- Brainmap Spoke Four
- Brainmap Spoke Five and Six
Unit Four will pull all those spokes together, developing a plot based on the character, one that derives from their weaknesses, strengths and greatest nightmare. This will allow the student to write a richer novel at the completion of the course.
- Weaknesses and Strengths
- Worst Nightmare
About the Instructor
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shirley Jump spends her days writing romance so she can avoid the towering stack of dirty dishes, eat copious amounts of chocolate and reward herself with trips to the mall. She’s published more than 60 books in 24 countries. Look for her all-new novella in the anthology ASK ME WHY (with Marie Force, Virginia Kantra and Jodi Thomas), as well as her Sweet and Savory Romance series, including the USA Today bestselling book, THE BRIDE WORE CHOCOLATE, and her Fortune’s Island series, starting with AND THEN FOREVER. 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.
Click HERE to register.
And be part of the community in the private Facebook Group!
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