Workshops for the 2023 Between the Pages Writers Conference
Register for the 2023 Conference
KEYNOTE – WHY YOUR WRITING MATTERS
New York Times- and national-bestselling author William Bernhardt shares the ideas that have fueled his career (and might fuel yours), where he finds the motivation and material to write more than sixty books and, as an added bonus, reveals the secret to life.
WORKSHOP – STORY STRUCTURE: THE KEY TO SUCCESSFUL STORYTELLING
Does “structure” sound boring? Does it sound like something for uncreative hacks? Not when William Bernhardt explains this vital concept, one that will transform an ordinary story into an extraordinary one and vastly increase its likelihood of selling.
WORKSHOP – FIVE SUPER-SECRET STEPS TO WRITING BETTER STORIES
Of course, if we told you what the secrets were, they wouldn’t be secrets, so you just need to come and find out for yourself. This talk is a collection of not-obvious, rarely taught skills Bernhardt has learned over the course of his 30+ years in the book business.
A behind-the-scenes look at how short-story anthologies and fiction magazines are put together
- Get your stories into the editorial mix
- Learn to work with editors
- Develop long-term professional relationships
- Grow your career
SESSION 2 – PLOT STORIES USING A DECISION TREE
A well-developed decision tree can generate multiple stories
- Create a decision tree
- Use it to develop a story plot
- Reuse it to create multiple plots
- Learn to develop stories using your own decision trees
THE STORY SONG: WHERE LITERATURE AND MUSIC MEET
Jon Chandler is a singer/songwriter, novelist and author of several nonfiction works. He is a three-time recipient of the Western Writers of America’s Spur Award and was a finalist for the Colorado Book Award. His 11 commercial recordings blend concepts from the literary and musical worlds, resulting in story songs in the American (Folk, Country and Roots) genre. Chandler’s workshop delves into the literary aspects of American music, and how to use them to craft exceptional songs. Elements of the presentation include:
- A history of the American story song
- The lyric and musical elements of story songs
- Subjects, styles, structure and nuts & bolts
- The writing process
- Discussion – Ways to kickstart
HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S BOOKS THAT SELL
Author, editor, and publisher Clarissa Willis shares her tips about writing a children’s book that will sell in an over-saturated market.
- Examine various paths to publication
- Find the illustrator that is right for you
- Know your audience
- Writing your book is easy: Marketing tips that work
WRITING NON-FICTION FOR FUN AND PROFIT
- Discover how to write a ‘paunchy’ book that sells
- Turn your ideas into marketable non-fiction books
- A simple way to write non-fiction one adventure at a time
INDIE AUTHOR MARKETING 101 – PART 1 FRIDAY EVENING
PART 2 SATURDAY MORNING
Learn to market yourself and make real money. (presentation will be done twice for your convenience)
- Developing an online presence
- Gathering followers
- Quit wasting time with promotions and ads that don’t work
- Amazon and Bookbub paid ads
- An Author’s best asset for promoting and marketing (yourself).
SESSION 1 – WRITE SMARTER, WRITE FASTER
With ever-increasing constraints on their time, writers must learn to maximize the time they spend plotting their book and writing that first draft. This workshop will focus on techniques to help writers at all stages of their careers be more productive. Topics discussed will include:
- Plotting with Friends- The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
- Know Your Process- Writing is not One Size Fits All
- Tips & Tricks – How Prolific Writers Get Words on the Page
SESSION 2 – CRAFTING SYNOPSES, BLURBS, TAG LINES AND LOG LINES
Whether you are submitting your manuscript to a publisher/agent or whether you are self-publishing, it’s important to craft a good blurb and tag line…and even the evil, dreaded synopsis. Even if you are not submitting your manuscript, writing a synopsis can help you know if you’re on the right track as far as your plot and can help identify weak areas or plot holes.
- Learn an easy process for writing a synopsis that will make the chore a little less torturous
- Learn how to condense your story down into a few lines (an ‘elevator pitch’ or log line)
- Learn how to create catchy and engaging tag lines to use for the cover, promo, etc.
- Learn how to write a back cover blurb that will engage readers and make them want to buy your book
- Time permitting, we will create some on the spot tag lines/log lines so be prepared by knowing the basic premise of your current WIP
The best characters are interesting and complex. How can writers avoid one-note protagonists and mustache-twirling antagonists? Identifying what motivates a character influences how the character acts, reacts, and interacts with others. In this session we will discuss types of motivation, analyze what drives behaviors, and explore tactics. Bring paper and pencil and come ready to play ball!
SESSION 2 – EDITING FOR MAXIMUM IMPACT
Whether you intend to seek representation and a publisher or to indie-publish your story, you want to guarantee a polished, emotional experience for your readers. “Editing for Maximum Impact” offers guidance and examples to elevate your manuscript to the next level. Bring paper and pencil and come ready to actively work through examples of structural editing and using rhetorical devices to heighten the reader’s experience.
COVERING YOUR BRAND
Develop an active authors brand that will help you gain a following
- Understand the powerful marketing tool book covers are (or should be)
- Utilize branding to make readers come to you
- Considerations for author brand development
- Common branding mistakes and how to avoid them
WHY WRITING A BOOK SERIES IS A GOOD IDEA
Writing in a series will make it easier for you to write books. It will make the customers and readers happier, because they get great value, and they get lots of material, and they get to binge. You make more money.
- The binge consumption culture means, if a reader discovers you, they are likely to go back and buy more
- A series will explain character flaws, history and actions.
- Builds a backlist
- Won’t have to condense an idea, world or adventure into one book
- Most popular book series
- Helps develop your niche
- Characters become friends to the readers and they want to visit them often
SESSION 2 – STAKES AND TENSION
When writing about stakes, ask yourself this question: Are the stakes high enough and does the pace of the plot keep the reader turning the pages?
- Remember, a failure is bad enough when private; when your family, friends, school, town, or the entire universe knows about it, it’s devastating.
- Understanding what your protagonist most values will allow you to place that thing at risk.
- Escalate tension by making your protagonist wonder if what is at stake is worth it.
- The stakes don’t have to be literally mortal. But they must feel like life and death to the specific character.
- Remember: There are three kinds of death: physical, professional, psychological. Physical death needs no explanation.
What are Story Stakes?
- What does the protagonist stand to lose through the story’s central conflict?
- What do they stand to gain?
- What do they want or need to obtain or achieve, and what stands in the way of them doing this?
- What are they risking in trying to achieve their objective?
CONTENT WRITING vs CREATIVE WRITING – “Write for the Internet and Get Paid!”
Using credible venues such as Crowd Content and Textbroker, Simonson has written content and copywritten (articles, blog posts, ads, etc) for various companies. This ‘write-on-demand’ type of writing requires much quick research on a deadline. It presents a challenge for tight, concise writing and provides an opportunity for creativity at the same time. Although not for everyone, she says “It provides a happy distraction when writing is slow, or ideas don’t come – plus, it’s guaranteed pay, and you learn new things.”
- Content writing – what is it?
- Write-on-demand assignments
- Key points vs. keywords
- Is it credible?
- Is it worth it?
- Other options
BOOK PROPOSAL 101
YOUR BOOK’S OFFICIAL BUSINESS PLAN – FOR BOTH FICTION & NONFICTION
- The elements of a book proposal- for both fiction and nonfiction
- The importance & benefits of book proposals
- Hints and Tips on preparing your book proposal
GETTING THE FULL REQUEST
Agent Cole Lanahan explains the writing techniques necessary to entice agents and editors to read beyond your sample pages.
Here are some common rejection letter phrases we will cover, and how to avoid them:
- “I wasn’t drawn into the story”: How to detect and change passive voice, purple prose, and other writing hiccups that pull readers from the story.
- “I couldn’t connect to the character”: Was your hero story worthy? Does your character have clear goals and motivations? Do they transform?
- “Ultimately, I didn’t fall in love with this project as much as I’d hoped”: Did you stay true to the themes of your genre? Are you within expected wordcounts? Did your A story and B story effectively intertwine?