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Fiction [clear filter]
Friday, April 3
 

9:00am EDT

1B: Perfecting Page One
Limited Capacity full

You know the great opening lines: Ishmael, Manderley, the last camel. Why do those work? And how can you create one for your own novel? How can you set the proper expectations for the story to come, and make every word work? How do you avoid info dumps, dreaded exposition and book-killing backstory? How do you create a first page that will entice editors and enchant readers? (If they don't love the first one, they'll never get to the second one.)

In this class, suitable for any genre, we will dissect and analyze acclaimed first lines and opening paragraphs, and reveal the writing secrets these brilliant examples offer. If you are brave enough, please bring your own first line! Hank and the class will offer advice and guidance—to set you and your book off in the right direction.


Speakers
avatar for Hank Phillippi Ryan

Hank Phillippi Ryan

Author, THE MURDER LIST
Hank Phillippi Ryan is the on-air investigative reporter for Boston's WHDH-TV. She's won 36 EMMYs and dozens more journalism honors. The nationally bestselling author of 11 mysteries, Ryan's also an award-winner in her second profession—with five Agathas, three Anthonys, two Macavitys... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am EDT
Boylston Room - Mezzanine Level

9:00am EDT

1D: Creating Graphic Novels, Memoirs, and Comics
Limited Capacity seats available

Have you ever thought about creating a graphic novel or memoir, but don’t know where to start? Never fear, citizen! In this lecture we’ll explore visual storytelling techniques from American Comics, Japanese Manga, and Franco-Belgian comics. Attendees will learn the principles of short-form comic creation and how to develop these ideas into a full length graphic novel. Writers will learn how to write visually and work with artists.

Speakers
avatar for Anjali Singh

Anjali Singh

Literary Agent, Ayesha Pande Literary
Anjali Singh is an agent at Ayesha Pande Literary. Before becoming an agent, she worked as an editor at Vintage Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Simon & Schuster and as Editorial Director at Other Press. She is best known for having championed Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis after... Read More →
avatar for Tito James

Tito James

Author, CROSSBONE JONES
Tito W. James is a self-made comic creator with a background in video game art and animation. His travels across the globe and the doors of perception informed his multi-cultural comic book aesthetic and psychedelic philosophy. Whether he’s telling people’s fortunes in speakeasy... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am EDT
Stuart Room - 4th Floor

9:00am EDT

1E: Dangerous Satires
Limited Capacity seats available

Sometimes the mockery of laughter is the most subversive way to address the outrages of an outrageous society. This session will look at how to turn humor into sharp blades within your fiction.

Speakers
avatar for Rion Scott

Rion Scott

Author, THE WORLD DOESN'T REQUIRE YOU
Rion Amilcar Scott is the author of the story collection, The World Doesn’t Require You (Norton/Liveright, August 2019). His debut story collection, Insurrections (University Press of Kentucky, 2016), was awarded the 2017 PEN/Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction and the 2017 Hillsdale... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am EDT
St. James Room - 4th Floor

9:00am EDT

1G: Bottling the Muse: The Not-So-Impossible Task of Writing on Command
Limited Capacity seats available

Many writers have a love-hate relationship with deadlines. They help us push through murky drafts and make difficult choices, and prompt us to write when we may not feel like it. But what happens when the deadline is set, the contracts are signed, the topic is set, and the Muse-- that great breath of inspiration-- is nowhere to be found? Whether you're under contract, short on time, or simply need to get that idea from your head to the page, this session will have something for you.

In this guided writing session, we will write to prompts and discuss techniques for getting your project off and running, even in the face of a painfully blank page or blinking cursor. We will disprove the existence of writer's block and help impart the confidence to slay that upcoming deadline.

Speakers
avatar for Emily Franklin

Emily Franklin

Author, LAST NIGHT AT THE CIRCLE CINEMA
Emily Franklin is the award-winning author of more than twenty novels. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the London Sunday Times, The Cincinnati Review, The Rumpus, and DIAGRAM among other places as well as featured and read aloud... Read More →
avatar for Maria Pinto

Maria Pinto

Fiction Writer
Maria Pinto is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared or will appear in Frigg, Necessary Fiction, The Butter, Word Riot, and Dostoevsky Wannabe Cities: Boston. She studied Creative Writing and Women’s and Gender Studies at Brandeis University, where her work was awarded... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am EDT
Cambridge Room - 4th Floor

9:00am EDT

1I: Moral Villains and Sinning Heroes: Creating Complex Characters
Limited Capacity full

Heroes sin and villains are occasionally good. Struggles of good vs. evil are happening within, so why not write our characters that way? This two-day course will look at various technical approaches to building realistic characters in fiction, challenging the binary form. Characters are as complex on the page as they are off the page, and we will explore this tension through theory, discussion and a writing exercise.

Speakers
avatar for Wayétu Moore

Wayétu Moore

Author, SHE WOULD BE KING
Wayétu Moore’s debut novel She Would Be King was named a best book of 2018 by Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Entertainment Weekly & BuzzFeed. Her writing can be found in The Paris Review, Frieze Magazine, Guernica, The Atlantic Magazine and other publications. She’s a graduate... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am EDT
Beacon Hill Room - 4th Floor

9:00am EDT

1J: But How Do I Begin? Taking the First Steps to Writing a Book
Limited Capacity seats available

Description coming!

Speakers
avatar for Cherise Fisher

Cherise Fisher

Literary Agent, Wendy Sherman Associates
Cherise Fisher began her career in publishing as the assistant to the Editor-in-Chief of Dell Publishing a month after graduating from Yale University. Over the course of her twenty-five year career as an acquiring editor at Simon & Schuster and the Editor in Chief of Plume (an imprint... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am EDT
Newbury Room - 4th Floor

9:00am EDT

1K: Self-Translation: Writing from a Non-English Perspective
Limited Capacity seats available

Conveying a non-English world, piece of dialogue, and or a sentiment through English for the sake of a majority English readership is something writers have wrestled with in numerous ways. Choices in how we present languages besides English-- whether in dialogue, description, and more-- can vary from deliberately removing any contextual "clues," offering just enough explanation to English readers, or to suspend disbelief and suggest that all English dialogue is, in fact, being spoken in another language. 

The cultural, socio-economic, and racial implications of these various choices determine who a book is meant for, who has access to what information, and to recreate or reverse a linguistic exclusion that many non-English speakers encounter in contemporary and canonical works of fiction and non-fiction. Come for a thoughtful discussion, examples of how other authors have tackled this problem, and your own questions and ideas. This session is particularly useful for attendees who are writing in a non-English language (or who want to).

Speakers
avatar for Melody Moezzi

Melody Moezzi

Author, THE RUMI PRESCRIPTION: HOW AN ANCIENT MYSTIC POET CHANGED MY MODERN MANIC LIFE
Melody Moezzi is an Iranian-American Muslim writer, activist, attorney, and award-winning author. A United Nations Global Expert and an Opinion Leader for the British Council’s Our Shared Future initiative, she is a visiting professor of creative nonfiction at the University of... Read More →
avatar for Marcelo Hernandez Castillo

Marcelo Hernandez Castillo

Author, CHILDREN OF THE LAND
Marcelo Hernandez Castillo is the author of Cenzontle, winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. prize (BOA editions 2018), winner of the 2019 Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award in poetry, The Foreword Indies bronze prize, The Golden Poppy Award from N.C.B.I.A, and a finalist for... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am EDT
Cabot Room - 4th Floor

9:00am EDT

1L: Building & Layering Tension
Limited Capacity full

If there's no tension in your story, then there's really no story. But how do you create and build and sustain tension? In this class for committed prose writers, we will explore the many different ways to add and build tension in your work. We'll look at various examples of masters in the art of creating tension and we'll practice with in-class exercises the different ways you can tighten the screws for your characters and your readers, too.

Speakers
avatar for Manuel Gonzales

Manuel Gonzales

Author, THE REGIONAL OFFICE IS UNDER ATTACK!
Manuel Gonzales is the author of the collection, The Miniature Wife and other stories, for which he received the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction, and the novel, The Regional Office is Under Attack!, for which he received an Alex Award from the YALSA. His work has been published... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am EDT
Franklin Room - 4th Floor

10:15am EDT

2C: Writing the Climate Crisis
Limited Capacity seats available

In recent years climate change has risen to the forefront of human concerns. And yet, as David Wallace-Wells points out in his recent book, The Uninhabitable Earth, the dilemmas and dramas of our global environmental crisis are often mismatched to the kinds of stories we tell ourselves.  Can we address it in ways that are realistic and accessible, yet still leave space for hope and resiliency? How do writers address ecological catastrophe while still telling human stories of love, fear, grief, and longing that engage readers? This class will consider excerpts from authors such as Octavia Butler, Richard Powers, Cormac McCarthy, and Omar El Akkad, with the ultimate goal of helping participants formulate tools and strategies to address the changing planetary environment in their own work.

Speakers
avatar for Tim Weed

Tim Weed

Author, A FIELD GUIDE TO MURDER & FLY FISHING
Tim Weed’s short fiction collection, A Field Guide to Murder & Fly Fishing, made the 2018 Eric Hoffer Book Award Grand Prize Shortlist, and his novel, Will Poole’s Island, was named to Bank Street College of Education’s list of the Best Books of the Year. Tim is the winner of... Read More →
avatar for Julie Carrick Dalton

Julie Carrick Dalton

Author, WAITING FOR THE NIGHT SONG
Julie Carrick Dalton's debut novel Waiting for the Night Song is forthcoming from Tor/Forge Macmillan in January 2021. Her second novel, The Last Beekeeper, comes out in 2022. Owner of a 100-acre farm in rural New Hampshire, Julie is passionate about the representation of climate... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am EDT
Stuart Room - 4th Floor

10:15am EDT

2D: A Collection, a Book, a Conundrum: How to Make Your Short Story Collection Cohere
Limited Capacity seats available

Short story collections are curious beasts. The individual stories are often the result of many drafts, intensive labor, and rounds of feedback from the workshop. Yet so often the manuscript as a whole is not given the same consideration, and may struggle to form a book, rather than a collection of discrete objects. What are the strategies a writer might use to tie a collection together? How might one use character, geography, theme, resonance of imagery, juxtaposition, and line-level echoes to achieve this goal? How do the stories speak to each other across the collection, and what opportunities might there be for narrative progression in the book? This session will examine these questions and more from an editor’s point of view.

Speakers
avatar for Steve Woodward

Steve Woodward

Editor, Graywolf Press
Steve Woodward is an editor at Graywolf Press, where he has edited books of literary fiction and nonfiction by authors including Anna Burns, Jamel Brinkley, Eliane Brum, Mark Doten, Daisy Johnson, Benjamin Percy, Susan Steinberg, Esmé Weijun Wang, and others. Authors he has worked... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am EDT
Newbury Room - 4th Floor

10:15am EDT

2E: At the Beginning of the World: Writing Historical Fiction
Limited Capacity filling up

Description coming soon!

Speakers
avatar for Michael Zapata

Michael Zapata

Author, THE LOST BOOK OF ADANA MOREAU
Michael Zapata is the author of The Lost Book of Adana Moreau (Hanover Square Press/HarperCollins). He is a founding editor of the award-winning MAKE: A Literary Magazine. He is the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Award for Fiction and the City of Chicago DCASE Individual Artist... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am EDT
St. James Room - 4th Floor

10:15am EDT

2G: It’s All in the Details
Limited Capacity filling up

How do we write fiction and creative non-fiction that makes our readers feel love, hope, dread, sadness, and the whole range of emotion embodied in our work? While pacing, setting, and structure all come into the play, one of the most powerful (and often overlooked) techniques for any writer is the use of specific and significant details. But too much detail can backfire, and too little can take the reader out of the "dream." 

In this session, we will learn how to use details effectively so our readers share our characters’ emotional worlds. We’ll look at how specificity, filtering, and use of the active voice can build meaning for the reader. We’ll discuss examples from R.O. Kwon, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Toni Morrison and end with a short writing exercise that will help us apply what we’ve learned.

Speakers
avatar for Marjan Kamali

Marjan Kamali

Author, THE STATIONERY SHOP
Marjan Kamali was born in Turkey to Iranian parents and spent her childhood in Kenya, Germany, Turkey, Iran and the United States. She is the author of the novels The Stationery Shop (Gallery/Simon&Schuster), which was an Indie Next Pick, one of Newsweek’s Best Summer Books, and... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am EDT
Beacon Hill Room - 4th Floor

10:15am EDT

2I: The Art of Perspective in Young Adult Fiction
Limited Capacity seats available

Perspective-- and point of view-- is arguably the most important craft element that every fiction writer must consider. But "perspective" takes on new meaning in the realm of young adult fiction, in which characters-- by virtue of their youth-- bring an urgency to the conflicts they navigate.

In this session, we'll discuss the unique challenges and opportunities of writing from the perspective of younger characters, and for a younger reading audience. We'll discuss particulars of voice, dialogue, plot (and sub-plots!), psychic narrative distance, and more, and the presenters will share their own "story behind the stories," and shifting perspectives, while writing their young adult novels. Come with questions about your young adult manuscripts or ideas for one, and leave with more perspective of your own.

Speakers
avatar for Jennifer De Leon

Jennifer De Leon

Author, DON'T ASK ME WHERE I'M FROM
Born in the Boston area to Guatemalan parents, Jennifer De Leon is the author of the novel Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From (Simon & Schuster/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 2020) and the editor of Wise Latinas: Writers on Higher Education (University of Nebraska Press, 2014). She graduated... Read More →
avatar for Desmond Hall

Desmond Hall

Author, YOUR CORNER DARK
I was born in Jamaica, West Indies and moved to Jamaica, Queens.I graduated Marquette University with a BA in Journalism and was selected for the “Who’s Who of American College Students.”I’ve written and directed an HBO feature movie, A Day in Black and White which was nominated... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am EDT
Boylston Room - Mezzanine Level

10:15am EDT

2J: Desires, Fears, Urges, & Inhibitions: Narrating Your Characters’ Fantasy Lives
Limited Capacity seats available

As writers, we’re already personally familiar with how it feels to be moving through one reality in the physical world while our minds are often somewhere else – but how do you narrate such a scenario for your characters? We’ll take a look at a wide range of literary characters with active fantasy lives to answer this question. Walter Mitty is the classic example, but we’ll also look at additional historic and contemporary examples of literary characters whose reality is deeply affected by their fantasy lives. We’ll also study examples of non-fiction – like the best-selling memoir Educated – in which the narrative is propelled partly by the tension between the fantasy upheld by the author’s family and her experiences in the “real” world.

Along the way we’ll discuss how illuminating characters’ fantasy lives is a kind of hack. Why? Because accessing their fantasies allows you to convey your characters’ deepest fears and desires, urges and inhibitions, through the stories they dream up. You’re not stuck having characters think explicitly about their fears and desires — instead, they tell themselves a story that reveals aspects of their interior life that they, themselves, might be blind to. Whether it’s Sylvia Plath imagining herself as a fig tree or George Saunders’ lonely barber crafting elaborate erotic daydreams that fall apart even in his imagination, giving your characters active fantasy lives is a great way to reveal interiority, create tension between characters with competing fantasies, and propel your plot forward.



Come ready to talk about your fictional characters’ fantasy lives or – for the bravest among us – your own!


Speakers
avatar for Erin Almond

Erin Almond

Author, WITCHES' DANCE
Erin Eileen Almond is a novelist, short story writer, essayist and reviewer. Her work has been published in The Boston Globe, Colorado Review, Normal School, Small Spiral Notebook, and on WBUR's Cognoscenti, and The Rumpus.net. She is a graduate of the UC-Irvine MFA program and Wesleyan... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am EDT
Cambridge Room - 4th Floor

10:15am EDT

2K: Intuitive Timing: Using Patterns of Music for Strong Narrative Structure
Limited Capacity seats available

Try this: calculate the two-thirds mark in a piece of music and listen to see what happens at that point in time. Chances are, things become more complicated, denser. Melodies and patterns likely come to a sort of climax at right around that point in the music. Music isn't the only art form that often adheres to a structure of thirds. Some of the oldest narrative forms--fairy tales and folk tales--do too, and they've loaned their structure to many classic forms of narrative that follow.

In this session, we'll listen to short pieces by composers as wide-ranging as Wagner, Thomas Newman, Coltrane, and Beyoncé, among others, to hear how music tells its stories in three parts. You'll learn how to borrow from elements like the leitmotif, the coda, the refrain, to build stronger narrative structures for your novels, short fiction, and essays.

Speakers
avatar for Henriette Lazaridis

Henriette Lazaridis

Author, THE CLOVER HOUSE
Henriette Lazaridis is the author of the Boston Globe best-selling novel The Clover House. Her work has appeared in publications including ELLE, Narrative Magazine, Salamander, New England Review, The Millions, The New York Times online, and elsewhere, and has earned her a Massachusetts... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am EDT
Franklin Room - 4th Floor

10:15am EDT

2M: Writing the Literary Thriller
Limited Capacity seats available

The “literary thriller” is, by definition, a hybrid genre, utilizing the techniques of great mysteries and thrillers—plot, pacing, unexpected twists, crime—to create a work of fiction that extends beyond mere potboiler and into the meaningful reservoir of literature. If that sounds simple, it isn’t. The literary thriller has a double job: It must work as a mystery thriller and as a resonant piece of writing. How do you manage to create the nail-biting tempo of a propulsive plot while managing to create meaning characters and ask the harder and less solvable questions? This seminar will offer some possibilities on style, structure, plotting, and ambitions when attempting to write a “literary thriller.” What makes a piece of work exciting literature? How do you stay true to plot and to character? How do you satisfy the reader's expectations and still feel you’ve written important material? A literary thriller can feel like trying to juggle rabid squirrels on fire, but this session will ask and answer these questions and more.

Speakers
avatar for Christopher Bollen

Christopher Bollen

Author, A BEAUTIFUL CRIME
Christopher Bollen is the author of four novels, Lightning People [2011], Orient [2015], The Destroyers [2017], and most recently, A Beautiful Crime [2020]. His novels have been published in several languages. He is also a journalist, who has written for a number of publications including... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am EDT
Gloucester Room - 4th Floor

1:45pm EDT

3A: Literary Horror: What Is It and How Do You Write It?
Limited Capacity filling up

In the last decade or so, a new publishing category has arisen:  literary horror. It's been associated with some of the most exciting writers working at the darker end of the literary spectrum, a list that includes Nadia Bulkin, Brian Evenson, Hye-young Pyun, Jac Jemc, Victor LaValle, Samanta Schweblin, and Paul Tremblay.  

Through a consideration of selected passages from their work, we'll sketch the topography of this developing field. We'll examine narrative perspectives that are de-centered from the one traditionally associated with horror stories (i.e. white, male, and cis), and narrative approaches drawn from a variety of postmodern and experimental sources. From there, we'll use this map to point out possible routes interested writers might follow in their own fiction.

Speakers
avatar for John Langan

John Langan

Author, CHILDREN OF THE FANG AND OTHER GENEALOGIES
John Langan’s 2016 novel, The Fisherman, won the Bram Stoker and This Is Horror awards. He is the author of another novel, House of Windows (Night Shade 2009), and of three collections: Sefira and Other Betrayals (2019), The Wide, Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies (2013... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 1:45pm - 3:00pm EDT
St. James Room - 4th Floor
  Block 3, Lecture

1:45pm EDT

3B: The Conversation Without Answers: Writing Better Dialogue
Limited Capacity full

Dialogue is a convenient way to provide exposition and advance plot. But when writers concentrate only on these aims, the dialogue they write barely resembles the way people really talk. In this session, we’ll focus on how conversations -- with their interruptions, non sequiturs and misunderstandings -- can be used to characterize speakers and bring their relationships to the next level. We’ll look at transcripts from real conversations, as well as excerpts from published fiction that will include “Tomi” by Kali Fajardo-Anstine and “Our Lady of Peace” by ZZ Packer, among others. And we’ll use a series of writing prompts to try out techniques right in class.

Speakers
avatar for K Chess

K Chess

Author, FAMOUS MEN WHO NEVER LIVED
K Chess is the author of Famous Men Who Never Lived (Tin House Books, 2019). Her writing has appeared in The Chicago Tribune’s Printer’s Row Journal, PANK, Salon, Tor.com and other outlets. Her short stories have been honored by the Nelson Algren Literary Award and the Pushcart... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 1:45pm - 3:00pm EDT
Beacon Hill Room - 4th Floor

1:45pm EDT

3D: Polished to Published: Placing Your Short Fiction in Literary Magazines and Small Presses
Limited Capacity full

Do you have short stories, essays, or poems that have been put through the wringer? Are you ready to take the leap into the submission world? Or perhaps you already have, but acceptances have been hard to come by? 

This session will demystify the submission process and provide specific strategies to maximize your chances at successful publication. From determining when your writing is ready for submission, to learning what parameters editors use to evaluate your work, to familiarizing yourself with the literary journal and small press landscape, you will receive resources, strategies, and tips that will ensure that your submissions are taken seriously. Whether you are working on individual stories or a full manuscript, realist fiction or more experimental work, we will discuss effective approaches to engage with a wide range of publications and ultimately find a home for your writing.

Speakers
avatar for Dariel Suarez

Dariel Suarez

Author, A KIND OF SOLITUDE
Dariel Suarez was born in Havana, Cuba and immigrated to the United States with his family in 1997, during the island’s economic crisis known as The Special Period. Dariel’s story collection, A Kind of Solitude, was selected as the winner of the 2017 Spokane Short Fiction Prize... Read More →
avatar for Joy Baglio

Joy Baglio

Fiction Writer & Editor
Joy Baglio's short stories have appeared in or are forthcoming from Tin House, American Short Fiction, The Iowa Review, Gulf Coast, New Ohio Review, TriQuarterly, PANK, SmokeLong Quarterly, and elsewhere, and she's received fellowships and grants from The Corporation of Yaddo... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 1:45pm - 3:00pm EDT
Franklin Room - 4th Floor

1:45pm EDT

3E: Please Sir, I Want Some More: How to Construct a Story with Multiple Timelines or Protagonists
Limited Capacity full

With the publishing world at last opening up to a diversity of voices and viewpoints, writing a single protagonist story with a single timeline in a single locale might feel, well, less than inspiring. Why can’t we have more? 

This session will explore the reasons for and against such a choice as well as how to find the right balance and structure to make it all work. Participants will leave with methods to create cohesion and continuity as well as ideas for organization and how to keep the writing flowing.

Speakers
avatar for Michelle Hoover

Michelle Hoover

Author, BOTTOMLAND
Michelle Hoover leads the GrubStreet Novel Incubator program and will be coordinating the 20th Anniversary Massachusetts Book Awards for the Mass Center for the Book. She is a 2014 NEA Fellow and has been a Writer-in-Residence at Bucknell University, a MacDowell Fellow, and a winner... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 1:45pm - 3:00pm EDT
Whittier Room - 4th Floor

1:45pm EDT

3G: Place as Character: Bringing the World to Life on the Page
Limited Capacity full

The places where we love and die, the homes we inherit and adopt, the library, the corner store, the basketball court, the city block and the small town meeting hall--the writer neglects the importance of such locations at her peril. When a piece of writing doesn't seem to be happening anywhere, we sense something's amiss, but when it takes full advantage of place, we find ourselves settling into the story's narrative, ready to be transported there.

In this directed writing session, attendees will explore strategies for fully fleshing out the "where" of the matter. In a series of short exercises, attendees will thoroughly imagine and map out their pieces' setting so that the characters they create will have a proper place to live, whether that's the treehouse in the banyan or the city in the sky

Speakers
avatar for Maria Pinto

Maria Pinto

Fiction Writer
Maria Pinto is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared or will appear in Frigg, Necessary Fiction, The Butter, Word Riot, and Dostoevsky Wannabe Cities: Boston. She studied Creative Writing and Women’s and Gender Studies at Brandeis University, where her work was awarded... Read More →
avatar for Paloma Valenzuela

Paloma Valenzuela

Director, Producer, & Writer, THE PINEAPPLE DIARIES
Paloma Valenzuela is a Dominican-American writer, director and actress originally from the city of Boston. She is the creative director of the production operation La Gringa Loca Productions based in Boston and the Dominican Republic. Paloma has worked on several Dominican productions... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 1:45pm - 3:00pm EDT
Cambridge Room - 4th Floor

1:45pm EDT

3H: Writing While Multilingual: How to Leverage Your Languages for Strong Fiction
Limited Capacity seats available

For bi- or multilingual writers, our relationship to language(s) can be complex, and there is a growing appreciation in today’s market for stories that reflect this. Colonization, immigration, belonging versus otherness, the circumstances of our growing up-- all these influence how we use and feel about language.

In this fiction-focused session, we will work to identify our own relationships with our languages and how they influence what/how we write. We'll draw on excerpts by writers such as Junot Díaz, Jhumpa Lahiri, Edwige Danticat, and Amitav Ghosh, who use their particular flexibility with words in their writing. We will identify some practical techniques for how to use our own languages to craft the strongest, truest fiction for an audience who might not be familiar with all of them.

Speakers
avatar for Anjali Duva

Anjali Duva

Author, FAINT PROMISE OF RAIN
Anjali Mitter Duva is an Indian-American writer, dancer and educator raised in France. She is the author of Faint Promise of Rain, shortlisted for the 2016 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing and a 2015 Chaucer Award for Historical Fiction, and she was a finalist for 2018... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 1:45pm - 3:00pm EDT
Cabot Room - 4th Floor

3:30pm EDT

4A: Realism with a Twist: Bending the Truth to Get Closer to It
Limited Capacity filling up

Franz Kafka transformed his unhappy Samsa into an insect. Colson Whitehead brought Cora from slavery on an actual underground train. Mohsin Hamid sent his refugees through a door to a different life. All of these books tweak the boundaries of realism. They tell of worlds that look much like our own – no dystopian futures or imagined planets – but some element is made strange. And as a result, we can see our troubled world more clearly.

When we’re writing about frightening political, social, and climate situations, realism can’t always adequately describe the real world. In this session, through lectures and exercises, we’ll explore adding magic and metaphor to the realist novel. We’ll look at work by Zadie Smith, Ruth Ozeki, Valeria Luisella and others as we talk about ways to wake up our readers. How can we defamiliarize difficult truths that we often try to ignore? What can we learn from allegories and fairy tales? How can we, as writers, pay attention differently in order to know the world better?

Speakers
avatar for Heather Abel

Heather Abel

Author, THE OPTIMISTIC DECADE
Heather Abel’s debut novel, The Optimistic Decade was an Indie Next pick, a Massachusetts Center of the Book 2018 "Must Read" and received praise from the New York Times, People Magazine, New York Magazine, and the Seattle Times, among many other places. Her essays have appeared... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm EDT
St. James Room - 4th Floor

3:30pm EDT

4B: How I Wrote This: Discussion of CONFESSIONS OF THE FOX by Jordy Rosenberg, with Andrea Lawlor
Limited Capacity seats available

We’re thrilled to welcome author Jordy Rosenberg as our Muse 2020 Fellow in Fiction, for his hilarious and fascinating novel, Confessions of the Fox. Rosenberg's book imagines the real-life, infamous thief Jack Sheppard as a transgender hero, and follows their escapades in gender-fluid, 18th century London. Praised for its "vulpine versatility" and a "comedy spliced with period erotica," it's like nothing we've ever read. Hosting the conversation is Andrea Lawlor, author of the transfixing Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl.

Join Rosenberg for an intimate discussion about his construction of Confessions of the Fox, his writing process, and more.

This event is FREE & open to the public. Pre-reading the collection is recommended, but not required.

Speakers
avatar for Andrea Lawlor

Andrea Lawlor

Author, PAUL TAKES THE FORM OF A MORTAL GIRL
Andrea Lawlor teaches writing at Mount Holyoke College, edits fiction for Fence magazine, and has been awarded fellowships by Lambda Literary and Radar Labs. Their writing has appeared in various literary journals including Ploughshares, Mutha, the Millions, jubilat, the Brooklyn... Read More →
avatar for Jordy Rosenberg

Jordy Rosenberg

Muse 2020 Fellow in Fiction, CONFESSIONS OF THE FOX
Jordy Rosenberg is the author of Confessions of the Fox (Random House, 2018) - a finalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, a Lambda Literary Award, a Publishing Triangle Award, and the UK Historical Writers Association Debut Crown Award. Confessions has been recognized... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm EDT
Boylston Room - Mezzanine Level

3:30pm EDT

4C: Writing Sentences that Sing
Limited Capacity filling up

What are captivating sentences, and how do we write them? How can we borrow from music and poetry to produce vivid, arresting prose that activates the imagination and delights our inner ear? In this session, we’ll explore concrete strategies for crafting musical sentences in fiction and non-fiction. We’ll look closely at how to harness rhythm, meter, assonance, consonance, alliteration, internal rhyme, and other techniques to deepen meaning and create unforgettable prose that readers will love. You'll have a chance to try out these techniques in your own writing, and we'll discuss examples from contemporary authors such as Justin Torres, Sonya Larson, and Jesmyn Ward. Together, we'll work toward a collective understanding of what makes great sentences sing.

Speakers
avatar for Colwill Brown

Colwill Brown

Fiction Writer
Colwill Brown is an instructor and manuscript consultant at GrubStreet, an associate editor at Bat City Review, and an MFA candidate at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the recipient of the Wellspring House Emerging Writer Fellowship, the Henry Blackwell Essay Prize, and... Read More →
avatar for Jonathan Escoffery

Jonathan Escoffery

Fiction & Nonfiction Writer
Jonathan Escoffery’s writing has appeared in The Paris Review, AGNI, Pleiades, Salt Hill, The Caribbean Writer, Creative Nonfiction, Solstice Literary Magazine, Pangyrus, and elsewhere. His most recent honors include a Distinguished Story citation in The Best American Short Stories... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm EDT
White Hill Room - 4th Floor

3:30pm EDT

4D: Negotiating Time in Memoir and Novels
Limited Capacity full

In books, as in life, timing is everything. How do we deliver a story in the right order? How should a book unfold? In memoir and fiction, linear chronology can be boring, but if we play around with the sequence of events too much, the reader may feel confused or disconcerted. 

In this session, we will think about structure and how to organize a story's timing for maximum impact. Specifically, we look at how to incorporate backstory. Too much of it up front and you risk losing the reader; too little, and your story may lack depth. We will examine how to raise the stakes so that flashbacks feel necessary and urgent. We will also explore when in time a story should begin. We'll consider techniques and strategies to manipulate the reader's experience of time, with an eye towards how these affect pacing and voice.

Speakers
avatar for Maya Lang

Maya Lang

Author, WHAT WE CARRY
Maya Shanbhag Lang is the author of What We Carry: A Memoir, forthcoming from Random House in April 2020, and The Sixteenth of June: A Novel. Her novel was featured in The Washington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and In Style, was a Finalist for the 2015 Audie Awards for best... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm EDT
Tremont Room - 4th Floor

3:30pm EDT

4F: The Oversight Draft: From Manuscript to Publishable Draft
Limited Capacity filling up

What keeps a finished manuscript from being accepted for publication, or from catching a judge's eye or attention, or from being read all the way to the end? How do you know when your manuscript is truly done? From flat plots to false dialogue. thin and under researched scenes, we will discuss the most common mistakes that keep a finished manuscript from being ready for publication and then offer suggestions about how to address these issues in an "oversight" draft.

Speakers
avatar for Amina Gautier

Amina Gautier

Author, THE LOSS OF ALL LOST THINGS
Amina Gautier, Ph.D., is the author of three award-winning short story collections: At-Risk, Now We Will Be Happy and The Loss of All Lost Things. At-Risk was awarded the Flannery O’Connor Award, The First Horizon Award, and the Eric Hoffer Legacy Fiction Award. Now We Will Be... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm EDT
Beacon Hill Room - 4th Floor

3:30pm EDT

4G: Omniscience
Limited Capacity seats available

The omniscient point of view provides a fictional narrator with a boundless range of motion, whether it’s traversing miles or decades in a single sentence, soaring high above the story-world, or darting like a trout in and out of the consciousness of even the most minor character. In this craft-oriented session, with the help of notable passages from classic and contemporary novels, we’ll examine the tactics and strategies of omniscience. The goal will be to develop a clearer grasp of this expansive point of view and how it can be used in the current age to create stories of unusual depth, clarity, and emotional complexity.

Speakers
avatar for Tim Weed

Tim Weed

Author, A FIELD GUIDE TO MURDER & FLY FISHING
Tim Weed’s short fiction collection, A Field Guide to Murder & Fly Fishing, made the 2018 Eric Hoffer Book Award Grand Prize Shortlist, and his novel, Will Poole’s Island, was named to Bank Street College of Education’s list of the Best Books of the Year. Tim is the winner of... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm EDT
Newbury Room - 4th Floor
  Block 4, Lecture

3:30pm EDT

4H: A Tale of Two Narrative Modes: Linear vs. Atmospheric Storytelling
Limited Capacity full

Are you someone who relies on drama to push your stories or essays forward? Or do you prefer to "feel" your way into a narrative by creating a distinctive atmosphere?

This session will consider two different "modes" of storytelling and explore the strengths and challenges of each. We’ll examine excerpts from two highly accomplished authors: international bestseller Elena Ferrante (translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein) and Nobel laureate Patrick Modiano (translated from the French by Mark Polizzotti, among others). While Ferrante often uses events and plot points to drive her narratives, Modiano's atmospheric novels lure the reader toward a truth or mystery that is ultimately elusive.

Through discussion, Q&A, and, as time allows, writing prompts, we’ll consider the effects of these different narrative approaches. You’ll leave with tools to discover compelling forms for your own project.

Speakers
avatar for Shuchi Saraswat

Shuchi Saraswat

Fiction & Nonfiction Writer
Shuchi Saraswat's work has appeared in Ecotone, Tin House online, Literary Hub, Women’s Review of Books, and Quick Fiction. Her essay "The Journey Home" received a special mention in Pushcart XLII 2018 and is anthologized in Trespass: Ecotone Essayists Beyond the Boundaries of Place... Read More →
avatar for Stacy Mattingly

Stacy Mattingly

Author, UNLIKELY ANGEL
Stacy Mattingly is coauthor of the New York Times bestseller Unlikely Angel. Her work has appeared in the Oxford American, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, EuropeNow, and elsewhere. In 2012, she launched the Sarajevo Writers' Workshop in Bosnia and Herzegovina and later helped lead the... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm EDT
Cabot Room - 4th Floor

3:30pm EDT

4I: Addressing Race and Racial Identity as Writers and Readers
Limited Capacity seats available

In our race-conscious society, white people are asked, often reluctantly, to define themselves as racial beings, a process to which people of color have been socialized since birth. Racial identity is the psychological connection we have with our race; its resolution process occurs for everyone, regardless of one’s identified race.

As writers, how might our characters, arguments, and storylines reflect any conscious and unconscious racial bias that we hold? As readers, how might our racial identities affect how we resonate with, review and recommend books, short stories, essays and poetry?

In this engaged conversation, two writer-psychologists explore with participants how to challenge and reframe dominant narratives about race, how to sharpen our perceptions of the impact of our racial identity on our writing, and how to read with greater racial consciousness. Using our collective wisdom, we will work toward a more enlightened understanding of race and racial identity in writing.

Speakers
avatar for Molly Howes

Molly Howes

Author, A GOOD APOLOGY
Molly Howes is a graduate of both the first Memoir Incubator and the only Nonfiction Career Lab, two of GrubStreet’s yearlong, intensive programs.Her work has appeared in the New York Times “Modern Love” column, Boston Globe Magazine, WBUR “Cognoscenti” column, NPR Morning... Read More →
avatar for Deborah Plummer

Deborah Plummer

Chief Diversity Officer, UMass Medical School and UMass Memorial Health Care
Deborah L. Plummer, PhD is a psychologist, university professor, diversity thought leader, author, and speaker on topics central to racial equality, inclusion, and mutual respect.Her groundbreaking and timely book, Some of My Friends Are…The Daunting Challenges and Untapped Benefits... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm EDT
Franklin Room - 4th Floor

3:30pm EDT

4M: History Walks With Us: Mythology, Memory, & Fantasy in the World and in Fiction
Limited Capacity seats available

Mythology, history, and memory all play central roles in how we process the world, form narratives about our lives, and make sense of our current crises. In this lecture and discussion, we'll dive deep into how these overlapping languages can clash and collaborate to create great stories.

As an author of fantasy fiction-- both historical and contemporary-- Older and Scott are fascinated by the way we tell stories, and make mythology from the past to determine the future. We'll discuss: What do the crossroads of myth and history tell us about where we go from here? How can art and story change the world? And most importantly, how do we USE this knowledge as we return to our desks, to write our own fiction and nonfiction? Come for an engrossing, high-stakes conversation.

Speakers
avatar for Rion Scott

Rion Scott

Author, THE WORLD DOESN'T REQUIRE YOU
Rion Amilcar Scott is the author of the story collection, The World Doesn’t Require You (Norton/Liveright, August 2019). His debut story collection, Insurrections (University Press of Kentucky, 2016), was awarded the 2017 PEN/Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction and the 2017 Hillsdale... Read More →
avatar for Daniel José Older

Daniel José Older

Author, SHADOWSHAPER LEGACY
Daniel José Older is the award-winning author of both YA and adult books. His most recent adult novel is The Book of Lost Saints (Macmillan, 2019), which Publisher’s Weekly, in a starred review, called, “thoroughly transportive,” and Marlon James called “spellbinding... Read More →


Friday April 3, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm EDT
Gloucester Room - 4th Floor
 
Saturday, April 4
 

9:00am EDT

5A: Different Worlds and Different Bodies: the Disabled Figure in Literature
Limited Capacity seats available

From Tiny Tim to the Seven Dwarves, disability in literature all too often falls into ableist tropes that continue to perpetuate disabled exclusion. 

How, then, do we look to expand disability representation in literature? How can we work toward representing the vast richness of disability experience on the page in thoughtful, inclusive ways?

Join writer Amanda Leduc on a part-history adventure, part-brainstorming discussion, all-round fabulous discussion class on how to increase disability representation in your work in ways that centre and respect the disabled experience.

Speakers
avatar for Amanda Leduc

Amanda Leduc

Author, DISFIGURED: ON FAIRY TALES, DISABILITY, AND MAKING SPACE
Amanda Leduc is a disabled author with cerebral palsy whose essays and stories have appeared in publications across Canada and the US. She holds a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from the University of St. Andrews, UK. Her first novel, The Miracles of Ordinary Men, was published... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am EDT
Stuart Room - 4th Floor

9:00am EDT

5B: Perfecting Voice in Historical Fiction
Limited Capacity filling up

The language we choose when writing historical fiction can bring the past to life or spoil it for our readers. The pitfalls of wrong tone, word choice, or cadence are ever present. Yet when we get it right, we can succeed at integrating all aspects of our story to make a distant era as real as our present day.

Through close readings in Rebecca Makkai’s The Great Believers, Edward P. Jones’s The Known World, Paulette Giles, News of the World, and Matthew Pearl’s The Dante Chamber, we’ll study how authors combine contemporary and period language to build their fictional worlds. We’ll also look at examples of where it goes wrong: fussy, old-timey, or pseudo-historical language that disrupts the narrative. Then we’ll consider our own writing, applying what we’ve learned as we find our own best, historically inspired voice.

Speakers
avatar for Virginia Pye

Virginia Pye

Author, SHELF LIFE OF HAPPINESS
Virginia Pye’s Shelf Life of Happiness won the 2019 Independent Publisher Book Award for Short Fiction. Her novel, Dreams of the Red Phoenix, was named a Best Book of 2015 by Richmond Times Dispatch, and her debut novel, River of Dust, was an Indie Next Pick and a 2013 Finalist... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am EDT
Newbury Room - 4th Floor

9:00am EDT

5D: When Revision Becomes Re-Envisioning
Limited Capacity full

Revision is the most essential—and for many, the most difficult—aspect of the writing process. Ideally, revision should open up new directions that allow you to re-envision your entire project, but after investing so much energy in the first draft, it can be hard to see new possibilities.

Through lecture and lively exercises, we will explore a variety of revision strategies meant to help you see the possibilities ready to burst from your latest draft. Whether you approach your manuscript spatially, visually, musically, or one word at a time, you'll find new ways to energize your writing.

Speakers
avatar for Brendan Mathews

Brendan Mathews

Author, THIS IS NOT A LOVE SONG
Brendan Mathews is the author of the short story collection This is Not a Love Song and the novel The World of Tomorrow, both published by Little, Brown. The World of Tomorrow was chosen as an Honor Book by the Massachusetts Book Awards, longlisted for the Center for Fiction First... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am EDT
White Hill Room - 4th Floor

9:00am EDT

5E: How to Save Your Character From a Drowning Story
Limited Capacity seats available

As writers, we've all experienced that moment when it becomes painfully clear that the story we're working on just isn't. We've tried to twist and bend it this way and that, but we've come to the end of the rope on the manuscript and have to let go. But what if the character/protagonist won't let go of you? What if the character continues to haunt you and you simply cannot give up on them? Here's how to rescue a great protagonist from a less than great story and not end up throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

This presentation will offer actionable tips for ways to salvage the "good" from a story before hitting DELETE.

Speakers
avatar for Nicole Blades

Nicole Blades

Author, HAVE YOU MET NORA?
Nicole Blades is a novelist, speaker, and journalist who has been putting her stories on paper since the third grade. Born and raised in Montreal, Quebec, by Caribbean parents, Nicole moved to New York City and launched her journalism career working at Essence magazine. She later... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am EDT
Charles River Room - 4th Floor

9:00am EDT

5G: Dialogue: Crafting Conversation in Fiction
Limited Capacity filling up

Excellent dialogue is crucial in the creation of in-real-time scenes. In this hands-on, interactive workshop, participants will see how conversation can be used to reveal more about character and plot, learn to identify and fix seven common mistakes, and discuss examples written by master writers.

Speakers
avatar for Mitali Perkins

Mitali Perkins

Author, FORWARD ME BACK TO YOU
Mitali Perkins has written twelve novels for young people, including You Bring the Distant Near (nominated for the National Book Award), Rickshaw Girl (a New York Public Library top 100 books for children in 100 years; film coming soon), and Tiger Boy (winner of the South Asia Book... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am EDT
Whittier Room - 4th Floor

9:00am EDT

5I: Why YA: The Unique Power of Young Adult Literature to Engage Difficult Topics
Limited Capacity seats available

Fiction writers in 2020 are surrounded by contemporary topics that demand attention, and yet challenge honest treatment. Grounded in his own experience writing about the aftermath of a school shooting, author Joseph Moldover will explore the power of Young Adult literature to addressing difficult, seemingly intractable topics, and the ability of the young voice to find unique perspectives on these problems.

We will ask what it means to address adult issues from a young perspective, how this differs from books about similar topics written from adult perspectives, and whether it makes sense to differentiate young adult from adult material in a world in which the older generations bequeath so many problems to the young.

Speakers
avatar for Joseph Moldover

Joseph Moldover

Author, EVERY MOMENT AFTER
Joseph Moldover is the author of Every Moment After, a Young Adult novel exploring the long-term impact of a school shooting. He has also published works of short fiction in MonkeyBicycle, One Teen Story, Typehouse, The MacGuffin, and elsewhere. Much of his prior work appeared under... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am EDT
Hancock Room - Mezzanine Level

9:00am EDT

5J: Balancing Act: The Writing Life, the Day Job, and Everything in Between
Limited Capacity seats available

Maintaining a writing practice when you have a demanding day job, family, and life happening can be tough. But it's doable! In this session, Melissa Rivero will discuss how she managed to write a novel while working as a lawyer in a tech startup, raising a family, and what she's learned from the publishing process. Come with your own challenges in maintaining the "balancing act," and we'll share tips, tricks, and solutions.

Speakers
avatar for Melissa Rivero

Melissa Rivero

Author, THE AFFAIRS OF THE FALCÓNS
Melissa Rivero was born in Lima, Peru and raised in Brooklyn. She is a graduate of NYU and Brooklyn Law School. She currently works as in-house legal counsel at a startup. Melissa still lives in Brooklyn with her family. Her debut novel, The Affairs of the Falcóns, won the New American... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 9:00am - 10:00am EDT
Cambridge Room - 4th Floor

10:15am EDT

6B: Narrative Unbound: Experimental Structures in Essays and Stories
Limited Capacity seats available

Are you struggling to tell a story in a traditional narrative structure? Sometimes it’s not you-- it’s the form that’s got you down. See how a more experimental form can illuminate the story you’re trying to tell, and how leaving your comfort zone can bust open your writing style. 

We’ll explore several approaches to narrative structure for both short stories and essays, such as collage and fragmentation, borrowed forms, and associative structures, and see how writers have used them in surprising and moving ways. We’ll provide guidelines to help you work with these structures on your own, as well as a writing prompt to get you started. You’ll come out of this session with new ways to approach narrative writing.

Speakers
avatar for Ron MacLean

Ron MacLean

Author, WE MIGHT AS WELL LIGHT SOMETHING ON FIRE
Ron MacLean teaches writing at GrubStreet. His short fiction has been anthologized, and has appeared widely in magazines including GQ, Narrative, Fiction International, Night Train, Other Voices, Drunken Boat, Best Online Fiction 2010, and elsewhere. He is author most recently of... Read More →
avatar for Sari Boren

Sari Boren

Playwright, TO REST
Sari Boren is an essayist and playwright who has published in Copper Nickel, Lilith Magazine, The Southeast Review, Alimentum, Hobart, and Pangyrus, among others. She teaches creative nonfiction at GrubStreet and co-manages Boston’s Four Stories reading series. In 2019 she was... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am EDT
Cambridge Room - 4th Floor

10:15am EDT

6E: To Whom Are You Telling Your Tale? Race & the Question of Readership
Limited Capacity seats available

In some writing workshops, writers are told not to worry about their audience, but to focus on their craft. And yet, in Playing in the Dark: Whiteness & the Literary Imagination, Toni Morrison exposes issues of race that underlie the question, To whom are you telling your tale? “For reasons that should not need explanation here, until very recently, and regardless of the race of the author, the readers of virtually all of American fiction have been positioned as white,” Morrison writes. The implication here is that white writers don’t think about readers of color; in contrast, writers of color are aware their work will be read and judged by white readers even if some, as Morrison did, feel they are writing primarily to their community.

How are writers to navigate the question of readership in America’s rapidly shifting demographics? Can or should one write for a specific audience? How are these questions related to four fundamental questions of any narration, either in fiction or nonfiction: Who is the narrator? To whom is the narrator telling their tale? When is the narrator telling their tale? Why is the narrator telling their tale? This session explores aesthetic choices that often go unexamined to help writers discover how considering their intended reader can be liberating, rather than restrictive. For writers of color, this may entail a deeper freedom to own their own voice and material; for white writers, this may mean expanding their vision and material.

Speakers
avatar for David Mura

David Mura

Author, A STRANGER'S JOURNEY: RACE, IDENTITY & NARRATIVE CRAFT IN WRITING
David Mura is a poet, creative nonfiction writer, fiction writer, critic, and playwright. His newest book is A Stranger’s Journey: Race, Identity & Narrative Craft in Writing.A Sansei or third generation Japanese American, Mura has written two memoirs: Turning Japanese: Memoirs... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am EDT
Hancock Room - Mezzanine Level

10:15am EDT

6F: Last Evenings on Earth: Writing the Otherworldly
Limited Capacity seats available

When we write fiction, we create parallel worlds. As such, possibility is not only a question of genre or believability on the page, but also one of language: what if?

This is especially true of Latin-American fiction, in which the relationship between the past and the future, the real and the unreal is often blurred beyond recognition. Through a close reading of two stories by Claudia Hernández, this class will explore these relationships and discuss writing techniques and strategies to create the otherworldly.

The class will include a short lecture on Latin-American literary traditions; craft discussion; and an exercise.

Speakers
avatar for Michael Zapata

Michael Zapata

Author, THE LOST BOOK OF ADANA MOREAU
Michael Zapata is the author of The Lost Book of Adana Moreau (Hanover Square Press/HarperCollins). He is a founding editor of the award-winning MAKE: A Literary Magazine. He is the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Award for Fiction and the City of Chicago DCASE Individual Artist... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am EDT
Stuart Room - 4th Floor

10:15am EDT

6G: Do Leave Them Hanging: Why Suspense is Critical in Any Fiction And How To Create It
Limited Capacity full

Some stories offer themselves naturally as arenas for suspense. Death is near; disaster looms; desire turns dangerous. But what about a story in which the dramatic stakes are quieter, or not quite clear from the start? How can we make a reader hold her breath even when she’s not sure what she’s holding it for? 

This session will explore the critical role suspense plays in any fiction, help reframe our notions of what constitutes and creates suspense, and provide concrete examples of writers using pacing, imagery, structure, repetition, syntax, etc. to heighten tension and compel readers to keep reading.

Speakers
avatar for Anna Solomon

Anna Solomon

Author, THE BOOK OF V.
Anna Solomon is the author of three novels—The Book of V., Leaving Lucy Pear, and The Little Bride—and a two-time winner of the Pushcart Prize. Her short fiction, essays, and reviews have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Ploughshares, One Story, The Boston Globe, Tablet... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am EDT
Statler Room - Mezzanine Level

10:15am EDT

6H: Stealth Description
Limited Capacity filling up

We’ve all had the experience of reading a book or story and finding ourselves skimming—perhaps even skipping—a stagnant paragraph of scene-setting description. Yet there are ways to describe actively, to incorporate exposition organically, even to set a scene without “describing” at all. This seminar will present effective, original, and artful approaches to “stealth description”: keeping the reader engaged and the story moving forward without drawing undue attention to the act of describing. 

We’ll learn how to put descriptions to work in ways that serve multiple story elements at once, while addressing common pitfalls (the unincorporated block of prose; the flashy detail that calls too much attention to itself; generic depictions of the familiar). This is a combined lecture-discussion, so bring a pen and paper for note-taking and exercises.

Speakers
avatar for Daphne Kalotay

Daphne Kalotay

Author, BLUE HOURS
Daphne Kalotay’s books include the bestselling novels Sight Reading and Russian Winter—winners of the 2014 New England Society Book Award and the 2011 Writers’ League of Texas Fiction Award, respectively—and the fiction collection Calamity and Other Stories, shortlisted for... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am EDT
Whittier Room - 4th Floor

1:45pm EDT

7A: From Research to Narrative
Limited Capacity seats available

Incorporating research into fiction. The variety of sources, interviews, texts, source documents, maps, etc. How these aspects lead to ideas for characters, settings etc. What are the constraints, the creative possibilities. How to "modernize" the historical to appeal to current readers.

Speakers
avatar for Jeffrey Colvin

Jeffrey Colvin

Author, AFRICAVILLE
Jeffrey Colvin was born and raised in Alabama. He is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, Harvard University, and Columbia University, where he received an MFA in fiction. His writing has appeared in Narrative Magazine, Hot Metal Bridge, Painted Bride Quarterly, Rain Taxi... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 1:45pm - 3:00pm EDT
Newbury Room - 4th Floor

1:45pm EDT

7B: We the Narrators: Writing the Collective Experience
Limited Capacity seats available

In this interactive session, we will explore and then try our hand at the first person plural narrative voice, a voice as old as the Greek chorus and as fresh as “We the Animals.” Some questions the session will explore include: Why would you would want to represent the collective experience? What can the first-person plural narrator say and do that other perspectives can’t? What kinds of stories is it best suited to rendering?

The first person plural can take many forms and we will look at a number of successful examples to study what and how they are achieving their effects, paying particular attention to the varying degrees of differentiation within the collective experience that different authors provide. Within the different categories we identify, you will then try your hand at writing in the collective voice.

Speakers
avatar for Val Wang

Val Wang

Author, BEIJING BASTARD
Val Wang is an author and filmmaker interested in the intersection between the personal and the global. She is the author of the memoir Beijing Bastard as well as the director of the documentary The Flip Side, which won Best Documentary Short at the 2018 DisOrient Asian American Film... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 1:45pm - 3:00pm EDT
Charles River Room - 4th Floor

1:45pm EDT

7E: Reclaiming Our Narrative: How Black Women Writers Showcase Versatility Through Storytelling
Limited Capacity seats available

It's no secret that in 2019, Black women are still plagued with stereotypes that rob us of our humanity. These tropes have permeated every crevice of popular culture and are so routine, they have become normalized. We are consistently portrayed or viewed as sexually insatiable, ardently pliant or irrationally angry. With Black women noticeably invisible in white American literature and the publishing world, how can we employ storytelling to fully capture our narrative?

In this session, led by writers Candace McDuffie and Ashley-Rose Salomon, we will discuss how steeping our works in our identity not only peels back the layers of our marginalization but allows us to have a seat at the table for a meal that was never meant for us. We will discuss how embracing our identities in the publishing world has led to success, and how maintaining self-care is vital for a healthy and abundant career as a writer.

Speakers
avatar for Candace McDuffie

Candace McDuffie

Nonfiction Writer
Candace McDuffie is a dedicated journalist and teacher who holds a Master's Degree in Education specializing in Critical and Creative Thinking from the University at Massachusetts Boston. She is a monthly contributor for the Under 30 Section at Forbes. Her work has also been featured... Read More →
avatar for Ashley-Rose Salomon

Ashley-Rose Salomon

Poet
Ashley-Rose is an award winning Haitian-American educator, organizer, actress and award-winning poet from Boston, MA. She was honored by Mayor Marty Walsh with the OneIn3 Impact Award for being one of the most influential people under age 35 in Boston and in 2016 she was awarded Boston’s... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 1:45pm - 3:00pm EDT
Stuart Room - 4th Floor

1:45pm EDT

7F: Approaching Race as a White Writer
Limited Capacity filling up

How can white writers address their own racial subjectivity, and that of others, in ways that are artistically meaningful and challenging? We'll talk about questions of appropriation and representation, approaches to research and inquiry, and ways to introduce anti-racist conversations in literary spaces.

Speakers
avatar for Jess Row

Jess Row

Author, WHITE FLIGHTS
Jess Row is the author of the novel Your Face in Mine, two collections of short stories, The Train to Lo Wu and Nobody Ever Gets Lost, and a book of essays, White Flights: Race, Fiction, and the American Imagination. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Tin House... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 1:45pm - 3:00pm EDT
Whittier Room - 4th Floor

1:45pm EDT

7H: Writing Evil: How to Harness Lethal Characters in Stories of Tragedy and Trauma
Limited Capacity seats available

How do we tell stories about heinous crimes committed at the hands of our protagonists and antagonists in a way that’s palatable for readers? How can we prevent glorification of horrific actions? Why should villains get intimate page time? And how can writers manage sensitive subjects without succumbing to heavy dread during the creative process?

We’ll explore these questions as well as the power of complex characterization and necessary storytelling through selected readings. Our discussion will be followed by thoughtful writing strategies to help us navigate and meaningfully develop problematic characters.

Speakers
avatar for Sahar Mustafah

Sahar Mustafah

Author, THE BEAUTY OF YOUR FACE
Sahar Mustafah is author of The Beauty of Your Face (W.W. Norton, 2020), her first novel, and Code of the West, a short story collection and winner of the 2016 Willow Books Fiction Award. Her stories have earned a Distinguished Story citation from Best American Short Stories 2016... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 1:45pm - 3:00pm EDT
Tremont Room - 4th Floor

1:45pm EDT

7K: First Page Clinic
Limited Capacity full

Important: Please read this description carefully before signing up, and bring all necessary materials to the session if you wish to have your work read aloud.

In this session, four seasoned authors -- who, among them, have published over twenty-five books of fiction and non-fiction -- will offer on-the-spot concrete advice on the first page of your novel, short story, memoir, or personal essay. First pages will be chosen randomly and read aloud by a volunteer.

Over the course of the hour, each author will also read an published first page (possibly one of his/her own) and discuss what makes it work, and/or the decisions they made to get it to its final form.

Please bring FIVE COPIES of THE FIRST 250 WORDS of your manuscript double-spaced, to the session, TITLED, with its GENRE marked clearly at the top. STAPLE the copies together into a packet. You will leave the packet in a box at the front of the room, and it will be chosen randomly by the reader. (Unfortunately, given the volume of submissions, we can not guarantee that yours will be read aloud).

Speakers
avatar for Mameve Medwed

Mameve Medwed

Author, OF MEN AND THEIR MOTHERS
Mameve Medwed--Bangor, Maine's other writer--is the author of five novels, Mail, Host Family, The End of an Error, How Elizabeth Barrett Browning Saved My Life, Of Men and Their Mothers. Her short stories, essays, book reviews have appeared in, among others, The New York Times, The... Read More →
avatar for Sebastian Stuart

Sebastian Stuart

Author, THE MENTOR
Sebastian Stuart's novels include: The Mentor, a Book of the Month Club selection; The Hour Between, winner of the Ferro-Grumley Award and an NPR Season's Reading selection; and To the Manor Dead. He has co-written a national bestseller published in 8 languages, 24-Karat Kids; and... Read More →
avatar for Rishi Reddi

Rishi Reddi

Author, PASSAGE WEST
Rishi Reddi is the author of the forthcoming novel Passage West, scheduled for release in April 2020. Set in California’s Imperial Valley at the onset of WWI, it tells the tale of Punjabi sharecroppers, their Mexican relatives, Japanese neighbors, and Anglo friends at a time of... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 1:45pm - 3:00pm EDT
White Hill Room - 4th Floor

1:45pm EDT

7M: The Revisionist: Utilizing Your Inner Editor as a Writer
Limited Capacity seats available

The biggest step to finishing is revising and, for many writers, this can be the hardest threshold to cross. When receiving feedback, processing feedback, and finding ways to fill plot holes or alter moments for greater impact how do we as writers implement these updates on the page? And how does our inner editor (critic) zero in on those points to smooth out the wrinkles? 

In this workshop, participants will compare early versions to final versions of fiction & nonfiction to see what's been added/removed, discuss different methods to tackle new drafts, and do on-site revisions of their own with time left over for feedback to compare the before & after based on discussion. The opening icebreaker will have the group write a short scene together and close with us revising it together.

Speakers
avatar for Jennifer Baker

Jennifer Baker

Contributing Editor, Electric Literature
Jennifer Baker is a publishing professional, creator/host of the Minorities in Publishing podcast, and contributing editor to Electric Literature. In 2017, she was awarded a NYSCA/NYFA Fellowship & a Queens Council on the Arts New Work Grant for Nonfiction Literature. Her essay "What... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 1:45pm - 3:00pm EDT
St. James Room - 4th Floor

3:30pm EDT

8A: When Science is Your Main Character
Limited Capacity seats available

In an increasingly science-suspicious world, many writers are wanting to incorporate scientific material into their fiction. But doing so presents some unique challenges.

In this session, we'll discuss approaches to writing fiction about science. How-- in a fictional world-- might we adhere to scientific fact? How can we make science central to our novels' conditions and conflict? How can we make the science work in the plot, without seeming like dull exposition? How might the progress of our characters' research-- or its dead-ends and failures-- drive change? We'll examine excerpts from writers such as Ursula K. LeGuin, Delia Owens, Gregory Benford, Mary Doria Russell, Margaret Atwood, and Barbara Kingsolver, to discover the choices they've made in diction, exposition, and science-as-plot-point. This session will be especially useful for anyone writing about characters who are scientists or researchers.

Speakers
avatar for John Farrell

John Farrell

Author, THE CLOCK AND THE CAMSHAFT, AND OTHER MEDIEVAL INVENTIONS WE STILL CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT
John W Farrell is a writer and producer working in Boston. He is the author of The Day Without Yesterday: Lemaître, Einstein, and the Birth of Modern Cosmology from Basic Books, an imprint of the Perseus Books Group. A graduate of Harvard College with a B.A. in English and American... Read More →
avatar for Rebecca Bratten Weiss

Rebecca Bratten Weiss

Author, TALKING TO SNAKES
Rebecca Bratten Weiss is a writer, educator, and eco-grower.​She is the author of Mud Woman, a collaborative chapbook with Joanna Penn Cooper (Dancing Girl Press, 2018). Her creative work has been published in Two Hawks Quarterly, The Cerurove, Lycan Valley Press Publications, Figroot... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm EDT
Stuart Room - 4th Floor

3:30pm EDT

8B: Productive Revision: How to Stop Perfecting Your Paragraphs and Think About the Story
Limited Capacity full

Often writers of fiction and narrative nonfiction, long or short, get bogged down in the revision process. Sometimes the problem is polishing too soon or, exasperated and wanting to be done, making desperate "fixes," when what’s needed are ways to re-see what's there in order to develop and structure the material. This workshop will offer strategies for finding opportunities in a messy draft, understanding habits that can limit you, tackling what you’re afraid of, and using your writing time well. We’ll discuss ways to evaluate drafts, looking at scenic development, presentation of characters, timeline, pace, and measurable change to help you find your way on the path to constructing complete and satisfying stories.

Speakers
avatar for Lynne Barrett

Lynne Barrett

Editor, MAKING GOOD TIME
Lynne Barrett's latest book is the new nonfiction anthology Making Good Time: True Stories of How We Do (and Don’t) Get Around in South Florida. Her story collection Magpies received the Florida Book Awards fiction gold medal, and her handbook What Editors Want guides writers... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm EDT
Whittier Room - 4th Floor

3:30pm EDT

8F: How to Create an Irresistible Narrator
Limited Capacity seats available

Many a short story, novel, and memoir have gone unpublished because the author fails to create a strong narrator, one who can act as a wise and entertaining guide to the reader. In this class, we'll examine the work of Didion, Salinger, Austen and others -- and try an in-class exercise -- in an effort to make sure your next narrator isn't just strong, but irresistible.

Speakers
avatar for Steve Almond

Steve Almond

Author, WILLIAM STONER AND THE BATTLE FOR THE INNER LIFE
Steve Almond is the author of eleven books of fiction and non-fiction including the New York Times bestsellers Candyfreak and Against Football. His short fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies, including the Best American Short Stories, the Pushcart Prize, the Best American... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm EDT
Statler Room - Mezzanine Level

3:30pm EDT

8H: More or Less: Maximalist and Minimalist Approaches to Telling Your Story
Limited Capacity seats available

This craft class will start with a very brief overview of minimalist and maximalist approaches, with a focus on how writers have used them to achieve emotional impact in their work. We will then look at a few texts by Susan Sontag, Wayne Corbitt, and Rebecca Makkai -- writers who are dealing with similar material in very different ways to great effect. If we have time, we'll also look at two works by Octavia Butler and Timothy Donnelly. Throughout the class, you might be self-diagnosing yourself as a minimalist or a maximalist and clinging to that artistic identity, but -- spoiler alert! -- one main point here is that you don't have to choose.


Speakers
avatar for Christopher Castellani

Christopher Castellani

Author, LEADING MEN
Christopher Castellani's fourth novel, Leading Men, is forthcoming from Viking in February 2019. He is also the author of The Art of Perspective, a collection of essays on point of view in fiction, and three other novels. Christopher works as artistic director of GrubStreet, was a... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm EDT
Tremont Room - 4th Floor
  Block 8

3:30pm EDT

8I: Joke’s on You: The Serious Work Of Using Humor in Your Writing
Limited Capacity seats available

Do you enjoy reading humorous writing but wonder how to make your own work funnier? Sadly, it's impossible, since being funny is a natural gift that only a few magical people are born with. Kidding—it's actually a simple craft issue. One that writers can work to improve just like any other. In this class we'll study the building blocks of humor and examples from masters in fiction and nonfiction, identifying their techniques and learning to incorporate them into our own writing without making it too "jokey." We'll also examine works of pure "humor writing" like The New Yorker's "Shouts & Murmurs" or McSweeney's Internet Tendency.

We'll also discuss humor as a craft issue with real-world stakes. While few writers get called out online when their plot or setting doesn’t work, failed humor can elicit unintended backlash. So we'll consider humor not as a whimsical, throw-stuff-at-the-wall-and-hope-it-sticks element of story, but as a powerful craft tool that writers must utilize with both skill and consideration.

Speakers
avatar for Stephen Macone

Stephen Macone

Nonfiction Writer
Steve Macone is a former headline contributor at The Onion. His essays, humor writing, and reporting have also appeared in the American Scholar, New York Times, Atlantic, New Yorker, Boston Globe Magazine, Morning News, VICE and Salon. He's been featured on NPR and Longreads, received... Read More →


Saturday April 4, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm EDT
Hancock Room - Mezzanine Level
 
Sunday, April 5
 

10:15am EDT

9C: Dramatis Personae, or, What Are All These Characters Doing in Your Story?
Limited Capacity filling up

Whether two characters spend five pages in a bar or a cast of hundreds fills your trilogy: who are they and why are they in your story? How can the reader tell them apart, remember them, grasp their relationships to each other, and understand the parts they play in forming a coherent tale? Do you need them all? Who can be combined or lopped? What helps make them distinct? Whose history matters? In this workshop we’ll look at techniques to help you assess and articulate your characters, looking at order of appearance, entrances and exits, major and minor characters, roles they play, definition of characters in relation to and contrast with each other, and ways of articulating the shifting alliances and tensions between them. Above all, we’ll look at what they do, as the web of their actions and reactions build a strong, memorable story.

Speakers
avatar for Lynne Barrett

Lynne Barrett

Editor, MAKING GOOD TIME
Lynne Barrett's latest book is the new nonfiction anthology Making Good Time: True Stories of How We Do (and Don’t) Get Around in South Florida. Her story collection Magpies received the Florida Book Awards fiction gold medal, and her handbook What Editors Want guides writers... Read More →


Sunday April 5, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am EDT
Tremont Room - 4th Floor

10:15am EDT

9D: Hero of Another Story: the Antagonist that Drives the Story Forward
Limited Capacity seats available

The best stories have antagonists who, in another book, are the heroes of their own story. While your main character should be the only one to whom the story can happen, a multi-faceted person blocking your protagonist from their goals drives the plot forward and creates compelling, gripping fiction. With exercises and discussion, this workshop will help you get to know your antagonist, how they oppose your protagonist, and how to be as invested in them as you are in your main character.  

Speakers
avatar for Anne Gaughen

Anne Gaughen

Author, REIGN THE EARTH
A. C. Gaughen is the author of the Scarlet Trilogy (Scarlet, Lady Thief and Lion Heart) and the Elementae series (Reign the Earth, Imprison the Sky). She serves on the board for the non-profit Boston GLOW, creating opportunities to encourage and engage teen girls in the Greater Boston... Read More →


Sunday April 5, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am EDT
Hancock Room - Mezzanine Level

10:15am EDT

9E: Scene CPR
Limited Capacity seats available

The writer Sandra Scofield describes a “pulse” – that spark that makes the story come alive – as a vital element to all scenes. But what is a “pulse,” and how can a writer ensure each scene has one? How can we write in such a way that our characters come to life, that a scene breathes emotion and urgency, while moving the plot forward and keeping tension taut?

Using published examples and exercises, we will look at the scene both as a discrete unit with its own internal dynamics, and in terms of its function in the plot of a novel or memoir. You will come away from this class with a checklist to help you determine whether a given scene in your manuscript passes the pulse test – and if not, how to bring it to life.

Speakers
avatar for Lisa Borders

Lisa Borders

Author, THE FIFTY-FIRST STATE
Lisa Borders’ second novel, The Fifty-First State, was published by Engine Books in 2013. Her first novel, Cloud Cuckoo Land, was chosen by Pat Conroy as the winner of River City Publishing’s Fred Bonnie Award, and received fiction honors in the 2003 Massachusetts Book Awards... Read More →


Sunday April 5, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am EDT
Beacon Hill Room - 4th Floor

10:15am EDT

9F: Character-Driven Plot
Limited Capacity seats available

Students often express the concern that overemphasizing plot will rob their work of literary merit and focusing too much on character will make their story boring—but writers who take this seminar will find that there are many ways to balance plot and characterization.

Speakers
avatar for Lauren Wilkinson

Lauren Wilkinson

Author, AMERICAN SPY
Lauren Wilkinson earned an MFA in fiction and literary translation from Columbia University, and has taught writing at Columbia and the Fashion Institute of Technology. She was a 2013 Center for Fiction Emerging Writer’s Fellow, and has received support from both the MacDowell Colony... Read More →


Sunday April 5, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am EDT
Stuart Room - 4th Floor

10:15am EDT

9G: Writing Transgender Characters
Limited Capacity seats available

With demand for transgender and non-binary narratives on the rise, more cisgender (non-trans/NB) people are adding trans and NB characters to their stories. But what can you do to make sure you’re providing accurate representation? In this session, we will explore the "Three E’s" of wanting to write a trans/NB character (empathy, education, and empowerment), the best craft approaches for each, and their potential pitfalls. We’ll also go over inappropriate reasons to write a trans/NB narrative, general do’s and don’ts, and an overview of the experiences most often used incorrectly in stories.

Speakers
avatar for Milo Todd

Milo Todd

Fiction Writer
Milo Todd writes trans historical fiction based on people and events that have often been distorted, erased, or cis-washed. He’s presented at Muse and the Marketplace and the Boston Book Festival, is an instructor at GrubStreet, and an alum of Grub Street’s Novel Incubator Program... Read More →


Sunday April 5, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am EDT
Charles River Room - 4th Floor

10:15am EDT

9H: Don't Just Try to Please Me: On Incorporating Editorial Feedback (Or Not)
Limited Capacity seats available

After months (and often years) of toil, blood and tears, the writer finally shares the work. This triumphant moment inevitably tilts toward anxiety. What has been an intimate conversation between the mind and the computer screen is now opened up to others: a professional editor, literary agent, or perhaps fellow writers in a writing group. The vulnerability often causes authors to surrender to the (over)eagerness to please those responding to their work. This might result in writer's block/paralysis, finished work that feels choppy, or a manuscript that is disconnected from the writer's original imagination.

This discussion will offer the best practices for a writer on how to thoughtfully incorporate suggestions from others, effectively push back on feedback that is off base, and distinguish between a resistant ego and a true creative impulse.

Speakers
avatar for Cherise Fisher

Cherise Fisher

Literary Agent, Wendy Sherman Associates
Cherise Fisher began her career in publishing as the assistant to the Editor-in-Chief of Dell Publishing a month after graduating from Yale University. Over the course of her twenty-five year career as an acquiring editor at Simon & Schuster and the Editor in Chief of Plume (an imprint... Read More →


Sunday April 5, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am EDT
Franklin Room - 4th Floor

10:15am EDT

9I: Essentials of Voice
Limited Capacity seats available

Voice is arguably the storyteller’s most powerful tool. Voice, after all, is what tells the story. Voice is integrally tied to atmosphere, tension, mood. Voice helps make characters come to life and off the page.

This workshop will help us develop this most essential device for characterization and plot. Combining close readings with writing prompts, we’ll identify and try out various techniques for how to listen for and develop voice in order to help us create authentic characters and stories that speak to us and through us to the reader. Get ready to start creating interesting, distinctive voices.

Speakers
avatar for Mona Awad

Mona Awad

Author, BUNNY
Mona Awad was born in Montreal and has lived in the US since 2009. Her debut novel, 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl (Penguin), won the Amazon Best First Novel Award, the Colorado Book Award and was shortlisted for the Giller Prize and the Arab American Book Award. It was also long-listed... Read More →


Sunday April 5, 2020 10:15am - 11:30am EDT
Whittier Room - 4th Floor

11:45am EDT

10B: Tell It From All Sides: Writing a Story with Multiple Points of View
Limited Capacity filling up

Some stories are told from a single point of view, while others are told by many characters who take turns giving us their own (sometimes conflicting) version of events. How do you decide when to tell your story using multiple perspectives? Which characters should serve as narrators? And once you’ve decided to use multiple perspectives, how do you create voices that are strong and distinct? 

In this workshop, we will discuss the when, why, and how of writing an effective multiple-POV story. We’ll use short writing exercises and our own powers of empathy to practice creating different characters’ voices. Then we’ll talk about how to best use them to deliver a powerful, multi-layered narrative.

Speakers
avatar for Angie Kim

Angie Kim

Author, MIRACLE CREEK
Angie Kim is the author of the national bestseller Miracle Creek, named a "Best Book of the Year" by Time and Amazon, a Washington Post Summer Read pick, a Top 10 AppleBooks Debut of the Year, and an IndieNext and LibraryReads pick. Kim is one of Variety Magazine’s “10 Storytellers... Read More →
avatar for Mira T. Lee

Mira T. Lee

Author, EVERYTHING HERE IS BEAUTIFUL
Mira T. Lee's debut novel, Everything Here is Beautiful, was selected as a Best Fiction title of 2018 by the American Booksellers Association, Amazon, Goodreads, and O Magazine, among others. Her stories and essays have appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Tin House... Read More →


Sunday April 5, 2020 11:45am - 12:45pm EDT
White Hill Room - 4th Floor

11:45am EDT

10C: Writing Homelands: Place in Literature
Limited Capacity seats available

This craft intensive lecture is designed for any writer concerned with notions of homeland, both real and the imagined. This course will focus on helping writers utilize setting in ways that push, expand, and further the idea of place. The goal of this intensive is to provide students with the tools needed to create a fully realized and immersive fictional world that thrums with the breath of life.

Class will have four components: readings, story generating exercises, and first-blush in-class feedback, and research tips. In this intensive, we will also focus on ways to conduct research and how to incorporate folktales, music, photography, and other art forms into our place-based writing.

Speakers
avatar for Kali Fajardo-Anstine

Kali Fajardo-Anstine

Author, SABRINA & CORINA
Kali Fajardo-Anstine is the author of Sabrina & Corina, a Finalist for the National Book Award in Fiction. Sabrina & Corina has been selected as a campus one-read by the University of Colorado and Regis University. Fajardo-Anstine’s fiction has appeared in The American Scholar, Boston... Read More →


Sunday April 5, 2020 11:45am - 12:45pm EDT
Tremont Room - 4th Floor

11:45am EDT

10D: Plotting, Pantsing and Everything in Between: How to Find Your Way Through That Messy First Draft
Limited Capacity filling up

“If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else.” ― Yogi Berra

Do you write like J.K. Rowling or more like Stephen King? In other words, do you make a detailed outline before writing your first scene, or do you follow the muse wherever it leads you? Most writers fall somewhere on the spectrum between extreme planning and seat-of-the-pants pathfinding. Whichever way you intuitively get through that first draft, you can streamline your process and minimize frustration (and writer’s block) by understanding the pros and cons of your personal style.

In this session, we will define these different approaches to writing, assess which category best describes you, and offer specific strategies that help you both capitalize on your strengths and overcome the challenges of your usual process. You'll leave with new and enhanced strategies to get to a strong finished draft.

Speakers
avatar for Michele Ferrari

Michele Ferrari

Fiction Writer
A Brooklyn-bred, Boston-based writer, Michele Ierardi Ferrari holds a BA in English and Creative Writing from Cornell University and a PhD in American Literature from the University of Virginia. She teaches Novel In Progress at GrubStreet. She completed GrubStreet's Novel Generator... Read More →
avatar for Andrea Meyer

Andrea Meyer

Author, ROOM FOR LOVE
Andrea Meyer’s first novel, Room for Love (St. Martin’s Press) is a romantic comedy based on an article she wrote for the New York Post, for which she pretended to look for a roommate as a way to meet men. The book was included in Cosmo’s “Lit We Love.” She completed her... Read More →


Sunday April 5, 2020 11:45am - 12:45pm EDT
Franklin Room - 4th Floor

11:45am EDT

10E: The Things People Don't Say: Writing What Is Taboo
Limited Capacity seats available

In this discussion, we will explore the power and transformative nature of writing non-fiction about what is taboo. For us presenters, that has meant writing about postpartum depression, job loss, manic depression, invisible disabilities, and divorce (a taboo in South Asian American culture). How might we say the unsayable? What forms, structures, and other elements can help us craft effective "taboo" essays and memoirs? And what might writing about taboos-- and sharing these stories via publication-- do to the taboo itself, or ourselves as writers?

We'll examine how some writers have done exactly this, including excerpts from Roxane Gay's Hunger and Bad Feminist, Carley Moore's 16 Pills, Esmé Weijun Wang's The Collected Schizophrenias, and Cheryl Strayed's "The Love of My Life," about infidelity and her grief over her mother's death. We'll also do 1-2 short writing exercises, to help put these strategies into practice.


Speakers
avatar for Pooja Makhijani

Pooja Makhijani

Editor, UNDER HER SKIN: HOW GIRLS EXPERIENCE RACE IN AMERICA
Pooja is the editor of Under Her Skin: How Girls Experience Race in America (Seal Press), an anthology of essays by women that explores the complex ways in which race shapes American lives and families. She is also the author of Mama’s Saris (Little Brown Books for Young Readers... Read More →
avatar for Sejal Shah

Sejal Shah

Author, THIS IS ONE WAY TO DANCE
Sejal Shah is the author of the debut essay collection about race, place, and belonging: This Is One Way to Dance: Essays (University of Georgia Press, June 2020). Her essays and stories have appeared in Brevity, Conjunctions, the Kenyon Review, Literary Hub, the Rumpus, and the anthologies... Read More →


Sunday April 5, 2020 11:45am - 12:45pm EDT
Cabot Room - 4th Floor

11:45am EDT

10H: Micro-Level Revision: On Writer Tics, Filler Words, Grammatical Habits, and Other Sources of Slow Prose
Limited Capacity filling up

The difference between your manuscript getting a “yes” or a “no” is often in cutting what Cormac McCarthy and William Faulkner’s editor called “extraneous baggage.” In this interactive class, author and former Atlantic staff editor Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne will help you torch your manuscript of the filler words that junk up stories and slow prose.

Through instructor examples and a brainstorming session, we will establish a list of words and then strike out on the prowl, using Find and Replace as our weapon. Together, we will flush out those tic words and brainstorm cuts or replacements. Bring your computer and a willingness both to share your words and laugh at the instances of their use! You will leave with a cleaner manuscript and a toolkit for line-editing that will have you one step closer to being ready to submit, whether to an agent, an editor, or the reading public!

Speakers
avatar for Elizabeth Shelburne

Elizabeth Shelburne

Author, HOLDING ON TO NOTHING
Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne grew up reading, writing, and shooting in East Tennessee. After graduating from Amherst College, she worked at The Atlantic Monthly. Her nonfiction work has been published in The Atlantic Monthly, Boston Globe, and Globalpost, among others and her short... Read More →


Sunday April 5, 2020 11:45am - 12:45pm EDT
Beacon Hill Room - 4th Floor

11:45am EDT

10L: Literary Idol: Fiction Focus
Limited Capacity filling up

Important: Please read this description carefully before signing up, and bring all necessary materials to the session if you wish to have your work read aloud.

In this freewheeling session, a trained actor will perform the first page of YOUR unpublished fiction manuscript for the audience and a panel of three judges. The judges are agents and editors with years of experience reading unsolicited submissions. When one of the judges hears a line that would make her stop reading, she will raise her hand. The reader will keep reading until a second judge raises his hand. The judges will then discuss WHY they would stop reading, and offer concrete (if subjective) suggestions to the anonymous author. If no judge raises his/her hand, the judges will discuss what made the excerpt work so well. All excerpts will be evaluated anonymously, though, at the end of the session, a winner will be chosen from the group of excerpts that did not elicit any raised hands, and that winner will receive a free GrubStreet membership. Please bring THE FIRST 250 WORDS of your manuscript (fiction only, please) double-spaced, to the session, TITLED, with its GENRE marked clearly at the top. You will leave it in a box at the front of the room, and the manuscript will be chosen randomly by the reader. (Unfortunately, given the volume of submissions, we can not guarantee that yours will be read aloud).

This is a fun event that aims to be respectful of your work and illuminate the process an agent goes through when she receives a new piece of fiction. The point is not to get through as many writers as possible, but to thoughtfully evaluate the work at hand and offer concrete suggestions from which all could benefit. Please be aware that some lines may cause laughter or scorn; in other words, this session is not for the thin-skinned!

Speakers
avatar for Neal Thompson

Neal Thompson

Author, KICKFLIP BOYS
I'm the author of Kickflip Boys: A Memoir of Freedom, Rebellion, and the Chaos of Fatherhood, which goes on sale May 15, 2018. I've written four other books -- biographies and narrative nonfiction -- and have blabbed about those on ESPN, the History Channel, PBS, C-Span, Fox, TNT... Read More →
avatar for Steve Woodward

Steve Woodward

Editor, Graywolf Press
Steve Woodward is an editor at Graywolf Press, where he has edited books of literary fiction and nonfiction by authors including Anna Burns, Jamel Brinkley, Eliane Brum, Mark Doten, Daisy Johnson, Benjamin Percy, Susan Steinberg, Esmé Weijun Wang, and others. Authors he has worked... Read More →
avatar for Cherise Fisher

Cherise Fisher

Literary Agent, Wendy Sherman Associates
Cherise Fisher began her career in publishing as the assistant to the Editor-in-Chief of Dell Publishing a month after graduating from Yale University. Over the course of her twenty-five year career as an acquiring editor at Simon & Schuster and the Editor in Chief of Plume (an imprint... Read More →
avatar for Christina Morgan

Christina Morgan

Literary Agent, Serendipity Literary Agency
Christina Morgan has over ten years experience in the book publishing industry. She worked as an agency assistant at Curtis brown Ltd. and at Harpercollins and HMH. She specializes in adult literary fiction and nonfiction and some young readers projects. She also loves a good mystery... Read More →
avatar for Bibi Lewis

Bibi Lewis

Literary Agent, Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency
Bibi Lewis is a literary agent at the Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency where she represents Children's fiction and nonfiction and adult fiction. A contract nerd through and through, Bibi manages subsidiary rights for the agency as well. She was born and raised in NYC.She is looking... Read More →


Sunday April 5, 2020 11:45am - 12:45pm EDT
Boylston Room - Mezzanine Level