Classes

Two New Writing Workshops with Me!

I'm delighted to announce that on Saturday, November 21, I'll be teaching two writing workshops as a fundraiser for Park Slope United Methodist Church. One will be in the morning (9 a.m.-12 p.m.) and one in the afternoon (2-5 p.m.) at the church in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Each one is $50, and all proceeds go to PSUMC. (This will be the first public debut of some material from my new book, The Magic Words, and I'm excited about that.)

"So You Want to Write a Book?" (9-12): In this workshop for beginning writers, or even people with just an idea for a book, "We’ll talk about practical techniques for starting and sustaining a novel-length narrative, including questions to ask, story dynamics to explore, and tips and tricks for getting the work done. A brief overview of revision and submission practices and publication options will be provided at the end."

To sign up: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/so-you-want-to-write-a-book-tickets-18955014960

"A Master Class in Character" (2-5): "What makes a character come alive on the page? What details should you include, or not include? Do characters have to be likeable or relateable? If you want a character to be relateable, how do you make that happen? In this workshop for novelists, we’ll explore the many dimensions and mysteries of characterization, and discuss ways to create believable, compelling fictional people."

To sign up: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/a-master-class-in-character-tickets-18955102221

It would be great to see you there! If you have any questions, leave 'em in the comments. Thank you for your interest.

Registration Now Open for My NYU Editing Class

I'm pleased to announce that registration is now open for "Book Manuscript Editing Workshop: Editing Children's and YA Novels," the NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies course I'll be teaching next spring. (This is an in-person course, not online.) You can find the listing here.

The course description seems to have gotten a bit smushed in the system, so here it is in full:

Calibrating a characterization. Structuring a plot. Developing a theme. Polishing the prose. And bringing all of these elements into perfect balance to help a book become what it should be. In this six-week course, we’ll learn how to practice these editorial skills, with special attention to the particular requirements of the child and young-adult audiences, and discuss how to create the right public image for a book through its flap copy, cover image, and editorial presentations.
I'm finalizing the syllabus now and just having a heck of a great time thinking about all the things I want the students to read and do. I am going to have everyone read Second Sight, which, on the one hand, I feel vaguely abashed about -- isn't that the classic egotistical-professor move, making everyone read your book? On the other -- well, most of the grand principles of my editorial philosophy and knowledge are right there, so if we can cover those theories in the reading, we can get down to the practicalities in class. And the practicalities and particularities of an individual manuscript are where the fun is, always.

New Webinar! "Creating Characters Agents Love and Editors Publish: For Middle Grade and YA Novels"

I'm teaching a webinar next week through Writers' Digest University. It's called "Creating Characters Agents Love and Editors Publish." Here's the pitch:

Readers may buy novels for their storylines—the facts that they can learn from the flap copy or an Internet blurb. But readers love books for their characters, because compelling characters bring feeling and meaning to what would otherwise be a mere list of events (also known as the plot). And if you’re trying to hook an agent or editor, nothing will make your opening chapters stand out more than truly distinctive characters:  fictional people, whom you have made real, who compel that agent or editor to want to find out what happens next. 

In this live webinar, Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic executive editor Cheryl Klein will teach you multiple strategies for getting readers interested and invested in your characters. She’ll draw on examples from popular middle-grade and YA novels to show you how successful authors work their magic, and provide a solid, actionable list of techniques that can be applied singly or in combination to strengthen your characterizations, from your protagonist and villain down to your supporting cast. By the end of the webinar, you’ll be well equipped to create characters who make agents and editors want to read more of your work, and eventually keep all readers turning the pages. 

Full disclosure:  This is an adaptation of a talk I've given at SCBWI-Hawaii and Hollins University, and some of the material in it is rooted in material from Second Sight and my Plot Master Class, though more of it is new or expressed newly. I actually keep this list of techniques written on a Post-It on my bulletin board at work, and when I feel like a character who should be interesting me isn't, I'll lean over and look through them:  New? Yes! Kind. No. Rather, whiny--oy. Etc.

The webinar will be delivered live on November 14, and available for purchase/replay later. If you're interested, please click over to the Writers' Digest University website here and check it out. And thank you!

Two Podcasts! New Class!

Recognize the caricatures?

Hey! There are two great new episodes of "The Narrative Breakdown" posted to our website. In episode 25, we springboard off listener questions to discuss the subtleties of dialogue tags (namely that they should be subtle), whether traditional publishers will consider self-published books, and how to start to figure out an overall revision strategy for your novel. In episode 26, Matt Bird of the Cockeyed Caravan returns to discuss character flaws -- their nature, necessity, and narrative use. Please check them out, subscribe in iTunes, write reviews, all kind things.

I'm also excited to announce that next spring, I'll be teaching a class through the NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies:  "Book Editing Manuscript Workshop: Editing Children's and YA Novels." The six-session course will run on Thursday nights from mid-February to the end of March, and cover multiple techniques and strategies for analyzing a novel for the children's or YA market, articulating its strengths and weaknesses, and communicating those to the author via letters and line-edits. It's open to anyone who wants to improve their editing skills, but is especially recommended for agents or aspiring editors just at the start of their careers. (And if you're interested in the course and you have questions you'd like to see it answer or specific things you'd like to learn, feel free to leave those in the comments -- I always find such spurs useful in shaping a course.) Class registration will open in mid-November. Thanks very much for your interest!

A "Breakdown" on Breaking Down a Manuscript; Two Conferences; and a Personal Best

There's a new Narrative Breakdown up at the website -- this time on Revision Techniques (Part I), as James and I talk through a few of my favorite methods of figuring out what you want your book to do, what it IS doing, and how it can be made to do all of that better. If you've read Second Sight or taken any of my classes, these will not be news to you, but it might be fun to listen anyway. (Talking about outlining is everyone's idea of a good time, right? Right? Yay! So you'll enjoy this.)

Registration is now open at the Dakotas SCBWI website for a full Novel Writing Workshop with me, October 4-6 in Custer, South Dakota. This workshop will involve my Plot Master Class on Saturday and my intensive talks on Character and Voice on Sunday, and it's the only conference appearance I'm making the rest of this year, due to my upcoming wedding and honeymoon. Other than this, I do not plan to offer said Master Class again (online or in person) until next spring, so here's your chance if you want to catch it in 2013.

I will also be at LeakyCon in Portland June 27-30, participating in general shenanigans.

Finally, I will admit to using my blog as commonplace book and diary as much as means of transmitting information, and as such, I've made a habit of recording my running times here to track my progress through the years. Now I have a nice new personal best to note:  The Brooklyn Half-Marathon, May 18, 2013, 1:59:28 -- with a personal best 10K in there too, at 56:39. Woo! I never get over the pleasurable strangeness of me, a longtime Enemy of All Things Exercise and In Particular Running, being able to do multiple miles in a single bound. (Or many bounds, really. You get the idea.) 

Announcing: My Online Plot Master Class!

I'm pleased to announce that Writers Digest University and I will again be offering an online, eight-week version of my Plot Master Class, starting later this spring!

Goodness, what a clogged sentence. To detangle it, with elements in order of importance:
  • Plot Master Class:  An extremely in-depth course on the elements of plotting, including purpose, stakes, structure, subplots, and pacing. The goal is to help you understand the point of your novel, how your plot can and should serve that point, and what revisions you need to do to make that plot as tight and powerful as possible. (My book Second Sight goes into some of this, but the class covers it in much greater depth and detail, and also reflects various revisions in my own thinking on plot since I wrote the book.)
  • Online:  You'll read lectures and complete associated exercises interrogating your manuscript and its plot, with the opportunity to ask as many questions of me as you'd like in the online discussions.
  • Eight-week: I've taught this class as a one-day workshop at various locations around the country; this course distributes those lessons over eight weeks, allowing participants more time to absorb the material and complete the exercises.
  • Starting later this spring:  March 14, to be precise, with homework to be completed before the course begins.
  • Writers Digest University and I:  I developed the materials, and Writers Digest University offers the online setting.
  • Again:  The current session of the course started in November and is coming to an end now; I've really enjoyed it, and the participants say it's been useful to them!
The most common question I get about this course is "Do I have to have a completed draft of a manuscript?" My instinct is that it will be most useful to people who have completed a first draft of a manuscript and are ready to dig back into it, see what they have, and start polishing it up. (After all, the first exercise is to make an in-depth outline of your current book, and later exercises involve analyzing said outline.) But I've heard from a few past students that they took the course without a completed draft, and it helped them figure out where they wanted to take their books.

If you're interested, please check out the full course description and register here. Any other questions on the course, I'm happy to answer in the comments. Thank you!