Log in to bookmark your favorites and sync them to your phone or calendar.

Block 8 [clear filter]
Saturday, April 4

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.

avatar for John Farrell

John Farrell

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

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.

avatar for Lynne Barrett

Lynne Barrett

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

8C: Writing the Extremely Personal: Sex, Health, Family
Limited Capacity filling up

What does it mean to write the extremely personal? How do you navigate the inclusion and publication of deeply personal details in your fictional or nonfictional work? In this lecture, two writers for The Atlantic and The New York Times' "Modern Love" discuss how to navigate the writing process when your work includes deeply personal details about yourself or others -- sex, family, health, romance, etc., How do we approach the writing process, and what public and private considerations should we keep in mind during and after the publication process? What are the advantages and disadvantages of plumbing your own life for artistic truth? How does the personal differ in fiction and nonfiction, if at all?

avatar for Courtney Sender

Courtney Sender

Fiction & Nonfiction Writer
Courtney Sender’s fiction appears or is forthcoming in The Kenyon Review, AGNI, Glimmer Train, American Short Fiction, Prairie Schooner, The Georgia Review, Tin House, and others. Her nonfiction appears in The New York Times “Modern Love,” The Atlantic, and The Lily at Washington... Read More →
avatar for Christine Gross-Loh

Christine Gross-Loh

Christine Gross-Loh is a journalist and author. Her most recent book is The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About the Good Life, coauthored with Professor Michael Puett. The Path, an international bestseller, has been published in nearly 30 countries. She is also the... Read More →

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

3:30pm EDT

8D: Don’t Send Your Query Letter in a Box of Doughnuts, and Other Stories: How NOT to Become an Anecdote When Submitting Your Work to Agents
Limited Capacity filling up

In this query letter and pitch-focused workshop, we’ll explore all the ways, good and bad, authors can get noticed by agents. From pitching an agent in the restroom at a conference (don’t!) to having a great elevator pitch (do!) we’ll give you all the secrets to a stellar submission that will have agents talking…in a good way!

avatar for Carrie Howland

Carrie Howland

Literary Agent, Howland Literary
Carrie Howland founded Howland Literary, LLC in 2018, after thirteen years as an agent, most recently at Empire Literary.Carrie holds a B.A. in English and Creative Writing from Albion College, where she was the Poetry Editor of The Albion Review. Her poetry has appeared in various... Read More →
avatar for Cassie Mannes Murray

Cassie Mannes Murray

Literary Agent, Howland Literary
Cassie Mannes Murray is a literary agenting at Howland Literary. While representing brilliant authors, Cassie also designs for Ecotone Magazine and Lookout Books, writes book reviews and interviews authors for Raleigh Review, and is completing her MFA in creative nonfiction at UNCW.Her... Read More →

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

3:30pm EDT

8E: Writing Great Artist Statements for Fellowships, Residencies, MFA programs, & More
Limited Capacity seats available

Whether you want to enhance your craft or win more writerly time and support, chances are that someday you'll face a competitive application process. At such times, a well-written artist statement can go a long way to make you stand out from the pack. In this session, we'll discuss the key components that every artist statement should include, as well as other ways to make your application as strong as can be.

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 →
avatar for Shubha Sunder

Shubha Sunder

Fiction Writer
Shubha Sunder's prose has appeared in The Bare Life Review, Lenny Letter, Crazyhorse, Narrative Magazine, Michigan Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. Two of her stories were named as notable in The Best American Short Stories 2016 anthology. In 2016 she was named a Massachusetts Cultural... Read More →

Saturday April 4, 2020 3:30pm - 4:45pm EDT
Cambridge 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.

avatar for Steve Almond

Steve Almond

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

8G: Plot Engine Tricks: Getting a Novel Started and Keeping it Moving
Limited Capacity filling up

Whether you’re just starting a novel and unsure where to go with the initial idea, or in the middle somewhere and feel stalled out, this session will get the wheels turning again. We’ll discuss familiar elements of the novel, but we’ll also use tricks from the Novel Generator to shake up your plot: we’ll consider your characters’ secrets and lies, and their general power dynamics. We’ll discuss the Rule of Neat Stuff, and Magic Objects, two tricks to help the novel gel together. We’ll look at some scenes from published books to inspire us, and we’ll discuss what it takes to finish a novel without going mad-hatter crazy.

avatar for Annie Hartnett

Annie Hartnett

Annie Hartnett's debut novel Rabbit Cake was published in 2017, and was a finalist for the New England Book Award, longlisted for the Center for Fiction's First Novel Prize, and shortlisted for Crook's Corner Book Prize. Hartnett was the 2013-14 writer in residence for the Associates... Read More →

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

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.

avatar for Christopher Castellani

Christopher Castellani

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.

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

3:30pm EDT

8J: Agents and Editors of Color Roundtable
Limited Capacity seats available

Join a lively and vital discussion among prominent authors, literary agents, and editors of color as we share experiences of issues we've uniquely encountered in our projects and our careers. Get advice on what you might expect in your own career and how to navigate it. The talk will build on ideas discussed in previous Writers of Color Roundtable, but all attendees are welcome!

avatar for Aemilia Phillips

Aemilia Phillips

Literary Agent, Stuart Krichevsky Literary Agency
Aemilia Phillips joined Stuart Krichevsky Literary Agency after completing the Columbia University Publishing Course. She graduated from Harvard University with high honors, and is putting her English degree to good use in the world of publishing, working with a range of fiction and... Read More →
avatar for Kiana Nguyen

Kiana Nguyen

Literary Agent, Donald Maass Literary Agency
Kiana Nguyen joined Donald Maass Literary Agency in 2016, where she assisted several agents, and is now building her own client list. She is seeking YA fiction across genres, particularly those with POC and queer voices. She is also interested in Adult romance and domestic suspense... Read More →
avatar for Amber Oliver

Amber Oliver

Editor, Harper & Harper Perennial
Amber Oliver is an assistant editor at Harper and Harper Perennial. Amber has published Lambda Literary Award winner, Claire O’Dell’s A Study in Honor and The Hound of Justice and has forthcoming titles such as Robin Page’s Small Silent Things, Lee Matalone’s Home Making... Read More →
avatar for Emi Ikkanda

Emi Ikkanda

Editor, Seal Press
Emi Ikkanda is the Senior Editor at Seal Press, an imprint at Basic Books / Hachette. She previously worked at Spiegel & Grau / Penguin Random House and at Henry Holt & Company / Macmillan. She acquires books on current and global affairs, social justice, race, feminism, history... Read More →
avatar for Jennifer De Leon

Jennifer De Leon

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 Nina McConigley

Nina McConigley

Nina McConigley is the author of the story collection Cowboys and East Indians, which won the 2014 PEN Open Book Award and a High Plains Book Award. She was born in Singapore and grew up in Wyoming. She holds an MFA from the University of Houston and an MA from the University of Wyoming... Read More →

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

3:30pm EDT

8K: Lessons from the Essay & Memoir Incubators
Limited Capacity seats available

The GrubStreet Essay and Memoir Incubator programs have helped dozens of students turn their drafts into excellent nonfiction pieces. Join Ethan Gilsdorf and Alysia Abbott-- instructors of these rigorous programs-- for the most important craft lessons and revision tactics for taking a nonfiction piece from its earliest exploratory draft to its final form. From creating an effective narrative persona to the art of establishing your central question or investigation, crafting scene, narrative summary and reflection, to understanding the kinds and forms of essays and book-length memoirs, this seminar offers a practical overview of what your nonfiction project needs in order to reach its full potential.

avatar for Alysia Abbott

Alysia Abbott

Alysia Abbott’s memoir, Fairyland, was a New York Times Editor’s Choice, and was named Best Book of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle and Shelf Awareness. It’s been translated into Polish, Spanish, Italian, and French and has been awarded the ALA Stonewall Award and the... Read More →
avatar for Ethan Gilsdorf

Ethan Gilsdorf

Ethan Gilsdorf is a journalist, memoirist, essayist, critic, poet, teacher, performer and nerd. He is the author of the travel memoir investigation Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms... Read More →

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

3:30pm EDT

8L: Essentials of Pitching
Limited Capacity filling up

Description coming!

avatar for Kerry D'Agostino

Kerry D'Agostino

Literary Agent, Curtis Brown, Ltd.
Kerry D’Agostino is a literary agent at Curtis Brown, Ltd. She received her bachelor’s degree in English from Bowdoin College, her masters in Art in Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education, and her certificate in publishing from the Columbia Journalism School. She... Read More →

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

3:30pm EDT

8M: Diversifying Your Income as a Writer
Limited Capacity seats available

Courtney Maum has worked on 4 book projects with her agent: two with “Big 5” publishers and two with indie presses, and a current collaboration on a film adaptation of one of Courtney’s books. Throughout her career, Courtney's agent has stepped in to act as her editor, her publicist, her film agent and her producer, effectively becoming a brand manager who has encouraged Courtney to diversify her income stream through screenwriting, newsletters, original audio content, webinars, and other creative ideas. Courtney has had to learn what to say yes to, and when to push back so that she can protect the time and quiet she needs to write her fiction. In this extremely candid discussion, Courtney will discuss what it takes to make a living as a modern writer in the current publishing arena, without the writer feeling like you are “selling out.”

avatar for Rebecca Gradinger

Rebecca Gradinger

Literary Agent, Fletcher & Company
Rebecca Gradinger joined Fletcher & Company in 2009 after previously working at Janklow & Nesbit and as a foreign literary scout.  Rebecca represents a wide range of literary fiction and narrative nonfiction. She holds a BA from Barnard College and a JD from the George Washington... Read More →
avatar for Courtney Maum

Courtney Maum

Courtney Maum is the author of the novels Costalegre (a GOOP book club pick and one of Glamour Magazine’s top books of the decade), I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You and Touch (a New York Times Editor’s Choice and NPR Best Book of the Year selection), and the handbook... Read More →

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