Below are descriptions of the workshops for the 2017 Summer Conference. This is the initial release. More workshops will be added as the conference approaches. Keep an eye out to this page for further updates.
Beyond Show and Tell: Reflection (Belinda Anderson) - Show, don’t tell. That’s something that writing teachers preach incessantly, meaning the writer should go beyond telling that the cat was nasty and instead describing its nicked ears and its habit of sharpening claws on exposed flesh. However, reflection is a little different from telling. Reflection can enrich your writing, creating an additional, deeper connection with the reader. Join Belinda as she shares examples and techniques to guide you Beyond Show and Tell.
We regret that Laura Treacy Bentley's workshop PAGE TO STAGE will not take place.
Page to Stage: The Last Poem (Advanced Poetry Workshop for up to 15 students) (Laura Treacy Bentley) – The power of poetry is our focus. Students will bring fifteen copies of one powerful poem to read aloud that is one page or less long. Every student will receive 15 different poems to read and keep. Students will write a draft of a brand-new poem on Saturday and meet again in late afternoon to refine and polish it in small critique groups. Saturday evening they will read their new poem on the Assembly Hall stage before an audience.
Creating Graphic Narrative (Daniel Boyd) - Most writers transition from comics to film, but Danny Boyd did the reverse, finding writing graphic novels a faster way to create much bigger stories on significantly smaller budgets. Approaching the graphic novel as "cinema on the page," he will cover the basic components of graphic narrative creation/construction, and present a general overview of this growing medium within the art, literature and film world. Formatting styles and available writing software will also be dis¬cussed.
Building Blocks of Good Stories (Daniel Boyd) - This workshop will focus on the basic building blocks used to develop and construct stories primarily for cinema and graphic novels but really relevant to any storytelling writing. Unlike some writing approaches, screen and graphic writing generally demand having an ending before you start, and then building backward from there. In this workshop Boyd will identify and explore the primary story elements, i.e., character, backstory, commitment, opposition, situations (scenes), settings (environment), etc. For Boyd, whether it’s writing for film, comics, and now even musical theater, the planning is the most important. "Is all in the pre-pro," he says. Formatting styles and available writing software will also be dis¬cussed, but like most entertainment writing, it’s all about the story.
Conspiracy (Crystal Good) - Why do we love the idea that people might be secretly working together to control and organize the world? Because we don’t like to face the fact that our world runs on a combination of chaos, incompetence and confusion.” ― Jonathan Cainer. Crystal Good, a not so secret agent of progress for West Virginia and author of Valley Girl her debut collection of poetry will lead a West Virginia Writers Workshop titled: Conspiracy All genres are welcome and encouraged. The workshop will open with a facilitated discussion followed by a series of writing prompts. Some prompts may require access to audio - please bring a pair of headphones. Participants are also asked to bring an 1-2 examples of a “real” “West Virginia conspiracy theory”.
Writing and Publishing Children's Books (Marc Harshman) - In this workshop, Mr. Harshman will survey his own experiences in the area of children’s book publishing and how it has changed over the past thirty years. He will discuss professional organizations, agents and editors, critique groups, library, bookstore and online resources, as well as practical advice concerning manuscript preparation, audience, character, narrative tension, and picture book visualization. He will also briefly examine the influence of both children and storytelling upon his writing. There will be ample time given over for questions from the attendees. Beginner to Intermediate Level.
Poetry in Prose: Mini-Lecture, Readings, and Workshop (Marc Harshman) - This program will include a mini-lecture, readings, and a workshop concerning the writing of prose poetry, flash fiction, and related condensed forms of poetic prose. Readings will include James Wright, Jean Follain, Jayne Anne Phillips and several others. It is intended that this session will provide not only a definition for and an introduction to the various types of prose poetry and flash fiction, but will inspire attendees to create their own short works of condensed prose. Suitable for beginning writers and others.
Poetry Workshop with Kirk Judd (Kirk Judd) – One of the original founders of West Virginia Writers, Inc. and Allegheny Echoes will teach a workshop on poetry. (Full details to be revealed online.)
Spoken Word Poetry Workshop with Kirk Judd (Kirk Judd) – One of the original founders of West Virginia Writers, Inc., teaches the art of spoken word performance poetry. (Full details to be revealed online.)
Showing Vs. Telling (Michael Knost) - 90 percent of all students who have taken this workshop gave an incorrect answer when (at the beginning of the class) I presented them with a sentence and asked if it was a SHOWING sentence or a TELLING sentence. Showing vs telling can be confusing on a number of levels, but this workshop will have you (just as every former student) walking away without a doubt concerning which is which, and how to better utilize both in your writing. We will use a fun visual aid that will make it so easy to understand.
Relational Influence (Michael Knost) - So often we create a beautiful backdrop in our story, as well as well developed characters, but for some reason they feel like a badly Photoshopped image when we put them together—and the result is nothing appears normal. And this causes everything to appear fake and cheap. This workshop will give us two different approaches to prevent this from happening in our stories. A great tool to learn when writing fiction or non-fiction, genre or literary, children or adult, etc., this workshop will help you pull everything together beautifully.
Technical Imagination: Self Editing and Deep Revision (8 Steps) Workshop (George Lies) - This will go beyond the typical writing advice of "show, don't tell'. The material will draw on extensive editing and critique experience and moderating of Critique Workshops for short stories, novel chapters and non-fiction work. This will focus on a writer's technical imagination in revision of work, through careful editing, writing deeper, and maintaining the tone of story telling. The 8 Steps include a) how a consistent point of view can style lengthy, run-on sentences; b) how pressuring narrative text can lead to deep writing; c) how a scene can come alive, using small setting detail and character actions; and d) how tweaks in dialogue or behavior will improve characterization. The attendees will learn ways to critique or revise their own first or second drafts, as well as self-edit a story or chapter. There will be handouts, one for revision; one for 6 Short Story markets.
Pedagogy and spoken word (Joe Limer) – How to get high school and college students to write to their truth and share it in class.
How to turn your poem alive with spoken word (Joe Limer) – Give poetry writers techniques on how to turn poetry readings alive.
The Heroine's Journey in Literature: How We Got From Elizabeth Bennett to Lizbeth Salander (Donna Meredith) Women travel down different roads than men and fight different dragons. This workshop looks at the female journey in detail, including the major plot points in shaping a novel with a female protagonist. The workshop examines traits of traditional and modern female characters, using examples from novels and movies in a PowerPoint presentation with handouts. It translates the work of Joseph Campbell into the realm of females.
The Power of Place in Appalachia (Donna Meredith) – The setting of a story acts as a crucible that unites characters and conflict. The workshop will give you tools to harness the power of place to fully flesh out authentic, believable characters. We explore making full use of locale, language, historical era, time, weather, season, natural light, and the “Third Element.” Using examples from dozens of West Virginia authors like Keith Maillard, Ann Pancake, Matthew Neill Null, and Meredith Sue Willis, we will consider characters who are in harmony and those who are in conflict with their setting, with special consideration of that love/hate relationship people in Appalachia often have with the land. PowerPoint presentation with handouts.
Jazz Up Your Nonfiction with Fiction Techniques (Donna Meredith) – Are you worried your nonfiction and memoir manuscript reads like a textbook instead of hooking readers? Punch it up a notch with creative nonfiction techniques. This workshop can help you distinguish between creatively presenting the truth and writing fiction. We’ll examine the difference between the retrospective narrator and the protagonist, and the proper use of scenes and frames in nonfiction and memoir. Though truthful, these genres can benefit from the same key techniques as any good story—hooks, characters, and scenes—but with caveats. Learn many additional techniques to enliven your nonfiction so you never sound like a boring textbook again. PowerPoint presentation with handouts.
Structure and Narrative Tension (Eliot Parker) – despite the genre, readers expect longer works of prose to be complete, with an appropriate beginning, middle, and end. In addition, readers need to feel a sense of tension that exists between the main character(s) and the plot device(s) put forth by the writer. Utilizing a variety of classical and contemporary frameworks of storytelling and tension in story, this workshop will examine ways that writers can develop a complete and satisfying balance of structure in their writing, along with enough appropriate tension to keep the readers engaged from beginning to end. A mix of short workshop writings will allow attendees a chance to develop and improve structure and tension.
Creating a compelling "Bad Guy" readers love to hate (Eliot Parker) – In mystery and thriller writing, the protagonist (a detective, private investigator, federal agent, average citizen, etc) is often pitted against an antagonist whose motives are heinous The reader follows the narrative with great interest, waiting for the moment when the protagonist and the antagonist will have their final confrontation. Readers expect the protagonist to be an interesting, flawed character who experiences "raised stakes" on their way to solving the mystery. However, readers also expect the antagonist to be equally complex, with flaws and motivations in direct opposition to those of the protagonist. Writers often spend a great deal of time developing the protagonist, but how can that same attention be given to creating a complex villain that readers are going to "love to hate?" This workshop examines strategies and techniques that mystery/thriller writers can use to creating a complex, interesting, and passionate villain that will be worthy of challenging the protagonist physically and/or emotionally.
To Thine Own Selfie Be True (Cat Pleska) - It’s who we are now: the self-referenced, the well-documented, well, self. We take photos with our phones at every instant, whether anything’s happening or not. So, why not make it a reason to write about yourself or something else in the photo—the possibilities are endless and you’ll be prompted with plenty of ideas. It’s a good time to describe, to observe, to create a story, to polish a thought, to let yourself behave in some new way, to imagine. Come to this class for fun and for expression and to shape a story of, what else! The self. (No smart phone? Not to worry—we’ll help you out with that).
Your Big Idea (Sheila Redling) – You have an idea for a story. Is it enough for a book? Has it been done? Is it a cliché? Will you ever have another idea? In this workshop, we’ll discuss how to turn ideas into stories, how to shake up expectations, and how to keep fresh ideas raining down on you from one story to the next. From tweaking genre promises to pulling off a great twist, learn to get your big ideas onto the page.
Editing and Feedback (Sheila Redling) – You’ve finished your book! Congratulations! Now get your red pencils out and whip that beast into shape. Good writing is rewriting and in this workshop, we’ll cover the different levels of editing required to turn a good story into a great book, as well as what to expect from professional editors. We’ll also discuss the most effective way to give and receive feedback. No soul crushing allowed!
Make non-fiction/biography/memoir compelling (Carter Taylor Seaton) - We will talk about how to make your non-fiction/biography/memoir as exciting as any novel. We’ll explore developing the story line, the setting, the background and how to put it into context – historically, topically or geographically. We’ll discuss structure, and the use of flashbacks or flash-forwards, memory, and internal monologue. We’ll discuss how to add validation to memories and family stories, explore what sources are available and offer tips on how to find them.
Role of Research in Writing (Carter Taylor Seaton) - A deeper discussion on the types of sources, where to go for what, the value of first hand interviews, personal observations, how to credit sources, when and whether to do so, how to blend historical facts into your non-fiction writing.
Don’t Be a Social Media Virgin (M. Lynne Squires) – Objective: Learning to create an author presence for those with little or no social media experience. What is Social Media and Why Utilize It? Reviewing the Most Common Platforms: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, SnapChat. Author Platforms - Amazon, Goodreads and personal websites. Choosing the Right Platforms
Introduction to Social Media Marketing (M. Lynne Squires) – Objective: Learning to promote yourself as an author through social media. Developing a social media calendar. Building a team. Paid social media advertising – yes or no?
Putting a Positive Spin on Rejection (Larry Schardt) – Propel Your Writing and Yourself into Success That Rocks! A writer’s work is on the line for criticism or rejection or both. When rejected you may be tempted to toss your computer off a cliff, watch your hard work smash into tiny shards on the rocks below, crawl in a cave, and sink into the gloomy dungeon of self-pity. Escape from the dungeon and explore rejection from a different perspective so you can grow, persist, and flourish. In this workshop, you will learn the secrets of becoming a victor instead of a victim, making happiness a habit, and overcoming the diseases of cynicism, negaholism, and blame. You will also learn the secrets of enjoying “Success That Rocks.”
Powerful Tools to Enhance Your Writing Success and Rock Your Life (Larry Schardt) – Suffer from writer’s block, overwhelm, lack of focus, stalled creativity, anxiety . . . ? Yikes! In this workshop, Dr. Larry “Rock ’n’ Roll” Schardt shares ways to blast through these maladies and empower your writing, and your life. From daily routines, to mindfulness, to programs, to conferences, to potent psychological tools, and beyond, Larry shares secrets to improve your life and enhance your creativity. Supercharge your mindset, and your writing, with tools to help you reach your maximum potential.
Blogging 101 (Diane Tarantini) – In the increasingly crowded world of writing, “platform” is becoming more and more important for nonfiction and fiction writers alike. One of the easiest ways to start building a platform is to begin blogging. In this workshop, we will discuss who should blog and why, as well as how to get started. If all goes well, each participant will leave with some or all of the following: a blog name, a brand message, a tagline, and ten possible blog post ideas.
The 10 Commandments of Faith-Based Writing (Diane Tarantini) – Do you feel called to faith-based writing—fiction or nonfiction—but aren’t sure how to get started? Come learn the ten commandments of writing from a Christian worldview. In addition, we will also discuss associated writing opportunities, an extensive list of useful resources, and of course, craft.
Details, Details, Details (Sandy Tritt) – This workshop shows how to bring your prose to life by adding in the right kind of detail at the right place and the right time—and in the right amount. It’s often the little things that make a big difference in the effectiveness of your fiction. We’ll discuss sprinkling setting throughout, describing characters, and using all the senses to create memorable scenes.
Who’s your narrator? (Sandy Tritt) — In this workshop, we will discuss what/who a narrator is, how to choose a narrator, and how to effectively control narrative distance--the amount of intimacy between the narrator and the reader.
Level Up (Tim Waggoner) - How do you go from an “okay” writer to a published one? This workshop will provide an overview of how to take your fiction to the next level and create stories that are vivid, original, gripping, and entertaining.
Multi-Level Fiction Writing (Tim Waggoner) - Learn specific techniques for constructing multi-layered, richly textured scenes to create a deeply immersive reading experience for your audience.
Get Out of Your Head and Into Nature (Michele Zirkle Marcum ) – Be prepared to hug a tree or two. This is a funshop; not a workshop. Words will flow as we enter imaginary worlds with the help of the spirit of Nature. This is the homeopathic cure for not only those with common writer’s block, but those who have misplaced their inspiration for writing. Our head analyses the logistical progression of a story, but our heart creates the characters, the feel of the fabric they wear, the dynamics of relationship. Find out if fear is blocking your heart chakra and thus the inspiration that spurs the writing genius. Learn how to clear your fears and open the sluices of the Divine story-teller inside of you.