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Block 9 [clear filter]
Sunday, April 5

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.  

avatar for Anne Gaughen

Anne Gaughen

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.

avatar for Lisa Borders

Lisa Borders

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.

avatar for Lauren Wilkinson

Lauren Wilkinson

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

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.

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

10:15am EDT

9K: Literary Idol: Nonfiction Focus
Limited Capacity seats available

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 manuscript -- in this case, a work of non-fiction, including memoir and personal essay -- 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 actor 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 agent 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 Grub Street membership. Please bring THE FIRST 250 WORDS of your manuscript, 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/editor 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!

avatar for Lauren Scovel

Lauren Scovel

Literary Agent, Laura Gross Literary Agency
Lauren grew up outside of Seattle and graduated summa cum laude from Emerson College with a degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing as well as Theatre Studies. She began her publishing career as an editorial intern at Aevitas Creative Management (formerly Zachary Shuster Harmsworth... Read More →
avatar for E. Dolores Johnson

E. Dolores Johnson

Author, SAY I'M DEAD
E. Dolores Johnson’s writing on race has appeared in Narratively, the Buffalo News, the Writers of Color Anthology, Lunch Ticket and Pangyrus. Her multi-generational memoir in progress on mixed race life (Say I’m Dead) is looking for its publisher. She has done readings at Boston’s... Read More →
avatar for Helene Atwan

Helene Atwan

Director, Beacon Press
Helene Atwan is the Director of Beacon Press, an independent non-profit book publisher founded in 1854. She began her publishing career in 1976 at Random House in New York as an assistant editor in their College Division, before moving to Alfred A. Knopf in 1977 as a publicity associate... Read More →
avatar for Sonali Chanchani

Sonali Chanchani

Literary Agent, Folio Literary Management
Sonali Chanchani is an associate agent at Folio Literary Management, where she represents character-driven upmarket and literary fiction with a strong, distinctive voice. In particular, she’s drawn to smart women’s fiction; quirky, heartfelt family stories; nuanced psychological... Read More →
avatar for Ashley Lopez

Ashley Lopez

Literary Agent, Waxman Literary Agency
Ashley Lopez joined the Waxman Literary Agency in 2015. She received her MFA in Fiction from Sarah Lawrence College and is a founder and the Managing Editor of Pigeon Pages Literary Journal. Ashley is looking for literary and young adult fiction, narrative nonfiction, memoir, and... Read More →

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

10:15am EDT

9L: Workshopping the First Page
Limited Capacity seats available

There may be no more important page than the first. It’s where your relationship with the reader begins, establishing tone, character, setting, and more. In this session, we’ll look at a few examples and discuss what ideally happens on a first page. We'll then break into small groups to workshop what attendees bring to class. This is a practical, hands-on session with the goal of crafting a first page that draws readers into your novel/story. Please bring the first 1-3 pages of a manuscript you're working on.

avatar for Anthony Marra

Anthony Marra

Anthony Marra is the author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (2013), which won the National Book Critics Circle’s inaugural John Leonard Prize, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in fiction, the Barnes and Noble Discover Award, and appeared on over twenty year-end lists. Marra’s... Read More →

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