Midwest Writers Workshop is  formatted into Part I and Part II. The one-day Part I Intensive Sessions are scheduled for Thursday, July 20. These genre-specific learning sessions are designed for writers serious about pursuing a given genre. You will spend the day with the instructor and other writers who share your interest. The Part I Intensive small-group sessions are limited to small class sizes. They fill up rapidly so respond quickly. The cost for Part I is only $155 and includes lunch.

2017 Part I Intensive Sessions

8:15-8:30 am    Registration welcome bags for Part I

8:30-9:00 am    Welcome                                               


[1] Adrenaline Rush: Writing a Thriller — John Gilstrap

Award-winning thriller author John Gilstrap presents a day-long seminar on the construction of intelligent commercial fiction. What makes for a strong plot? How do you take cardboard characters and give them life on the page? Through lively lectures and writing exercises, students get a peek at the skeleton that gives structure to the stories that keep us reading long into the night.

[2] Rewrite Your Life: Transform Your Facts into Powerful Fiction — Jess Lourey

According to common wisdom, we all have a book inside of us. But how do we select and then write our most significant story, the one that helps us to evolve and invites pure creativity into our lives, the one that people line up to read? In Rewrite Your Life: Transform Your Facts into Powerful Fiction, creative writing professor, sociologist, TEDx presenter, and popular fiction author Jessica Lourey (MA, MS) takes you step-by-step through the redemptive process of crafting and selling an experience-based novel.

Based on the transformative approach Lourey developed and field-tested in the wake of her husband’s suicide, this workshop combines research, writing guidance, and interactive exercises. Tender, raw, funny, and instructional, Rewrite Your Life offers both a map and a model for those seeking to transform themselves through the simple, profound act of novel writing. Come with something to write with on. If you can, also bring with a maximum 5-page scene from a work in progress for an editing exercise. (Limit 25)

[3] Writing Women’s Fiction — Amy Reichert & Melissa Marino

“Women’s Fiction” is a widely used, frequently misunderstood publishing term. In this session we’ll discuss the genre’s definition and scope–from sweeping family dramas to light-hearted romance, common (and often overused) tropes, and what makes Women’s Fiction such a vital part of the publishing landscape. The workshop will explore different writing styles seen in Women’s Fiction, tips for your own writing, and ideas for helping your story stand out —including characterization, pacing, and conflict.

We recommend you read widely in the women’s fiction genre. These are not required, but here are some suggested books that demonstrate the range of women’s fiction: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner, Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple, Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin, The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, The Awakening by Kate Chopin, My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult, The Help by Kathryn Stockett, The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. [For those with complete story ideas, you’re welcome to submit a 2 page, single-spaced synopsis to Melissa and Amy, along with your first 250 words by July 1 – email to midwestwriters@yahoo.com with “women’s fiction” in the subject. All submitted synopses and writing samples will be given feedback.]

[4] Writing the Young Adult Novel — Mike Mullin

In this intensive, we’ll cover almost every aspect of writing a young adult novel from first lines to final edits. There will be lots of writing exercises, so come prepared to write like a hyperactive ferret. If ferrets could write. But they can’t, so that’s beside the point. There will also be ample opportunity to discuss writing and hyperactive ferrets with award-winning young-adult author Mike Mullin.

[5] Screenwriting Nina Sadowsky

This class will provide an in-depth overview of writing for film and television. A mixture of lecture, in-class exercises and screenings will give the participants an understanding of how material is pitched, developed and produced in Hollywood as well as tips for successful screenwriting.

[6] Memoir: It’s Not About Your Life – It’s About How You Feel About Your Life — Mardi Jo Link

You’ve had experiences, adventures, great loves and great losses. Your life should be a book. Everyone tells you so and you’ve always wanted to write about some of your amazing experiences. But the key to compelling personal narrative isn’t having outrageous experiences, it is how the writer has been changed by those experiences. In this workshop, writing prompts and focused readings of memoir and personal essay will guide you toward analyzing how you feel about your life today, vs. how you felt about your experiences as they were happening. This new “you” is the emotional core of your story and can be discovered!

[7] Writing for Children — Ruth McNally Barshaw

The children’s book industry is more competitive than ever, and working in it can be surprisingly rewarding. We’ll explore picture books for young children and illustrated novels for older children, their differences and what works for both: structure, story, character, rules to follow and rules to break, the writing life, and the industry. We’ll discuss it all, from the first ideas for your book to seeing it in the bookstore — including how to survive the whole process and do it all again for your next book. We’ll have handouts and hands-on exercises to explore with either your work in progress or a new idea.

[8] The Book Doctor is in – Adventures in Developmental Editing — Matthew Clemens

Matthew will critique each writer’s first 10 pages and the attendees will engage in writing exercises geared to trends within the group’s manuscripts as well as creating characters, writing realistic dialogue, building scenes, point of view, and learning to read like a writer as opposed to reading like a reader. Participants will send a one-page synopsis and the first 10 pages of a book manuscript in progress by JULY 1 (midwestwriters@yahoo.com/subject line: Developmental Editing Intensive). (Limit 15)

[9] Manuscript Makeover – 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 send a one-page synopsis and the first 10 pages of a book manuscript in progress by JULY 1 to hollygmill@sbcglobal.net  subject line: Manuscript Makeover Intensive. Holly will edit and critique these pages and display them to the class as a way of revealing strengths and weaknesses in the material. Additionally, she will lead the students in writing exercises and offer advice on such topics as creating strong titles and opening paragraphs, learning to self-edit, mastering proofreading, finding the right markets for manuscripts and knowing when and how to go into writing full-time. This session is limited to the first 10 persons to register. The sooner writers sign up and pay the registration fee, the more likely they will be assured a spot. (Limit 10)

[10] Getting to Know Scrivener’s Features — Dee Romito

In this intensive session, we’ll dive into Scrivener and explore the many tools available to help with your writing. Scrivener is full of features that can help you get more organized and find the things you need, saving you time and making it easier to get things done. This session is best for intermediate Scrivener users who already have a foundation in the basics, but beginners are welcome if they’d like to see what Scrivener can do. Please come with a laptop loaded with Scrivener (trial or paid version) if possible. (Please note: this session will be similar to the intensive presented in 2016, but prior attendees are welcome to come for a refresher!)  (Limit 16-20)

11:45 am-1 pm   Lunch

1:00-3:00 pm      Intensive Sessions (continued)