Date Track Session/Presenter/Description Location Time

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Writing Fiction

Talk This Way

Fiction writers often have a hard time writing dialogue—take it from a playwright. Let's cram as many tips and strategies for constructing good and distinct dialogue for your characters into this hour as possible.

Sequoia 10:50am to 11:50pm

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Writing Fiction

Fiction as Nonfiction

Bad news: There are business reasons for would-be journalists and non-fiction writers to turn back --- journalism jobs are scarce, publishers have trouble selling non-fiction. Good news: There are business reasons for those writers to turn to fiction. 1) Great stories have all the characteristics of fiction: character, plot, conflict. 2) Great stories have what distracted readers crave: velocity. 3) Consider Balzac, champion of realism, as a non-fiction writer of novels.

After 40 years as a journalist, I now write plays and novels. My play tells the little known story of the final years of Henri Matisse, the 2nd most famous artist of the last century. My new novel is another little known story: the life-changing White House love affair of John F. Kennedy, the most famous President of the last century. Both exhaustively researched, both aimed at the literary and mass audience.

In this advanced level session, participants will share stories they might want to write as non-fiction, and we’ll discuss their viability as fiction.

Magnolia 1:55pm to 3:25pm

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Writing Fiction

WHAT'S MY NAME? AND THE EIGHT ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF CHARACTER

It's a Rihanna song, a Muhammad Ali taunt, and, to my thinking, the first step in writing character. My six year old son comes up with a new character every week. His latest is a boy named Windmill Sin. Windmill Sin. I could write reams about that kid. But, no, he belongs to my son. That's his character not mine. For me, it always begins with a name. Atticus Finch, Holly Golightly, Keyser Söze, Hannibal Lector. Anyone from Dickens. The list goes on and on. So, we'll talk about names (and nicknames). We'll talk, too, about physical fact versus telling detail. The difference between a police report and a character sketch, and how they might meet on a parachuting skull or a scar shaped like a question mark. We'll talk about the bundle of desires and the hero's wound. About subjective perspective and specialized vocabulary. About panheads and slobknockers and blister bugs in pepper patches. We'll talk about Doritos and Daredevil, Hag and Tay Tay, and the art of “Naming the World.” We'll talk about my mother's red cowboy boots and my family in five knives. About why the crap in Ferris Bueller's pants pocket is so important. We'll talk about the airplane glue on my uncle's thumb, Dustin Hoffman's collection of gaits, Bogie's ear pull, and how Maurice Micklewhite learned to act by riding the London Tube. All that and a bag of “Boy Named Sue” (the only character model you'll ever need).

Sequoia 3:35pm to 5:05pm

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Writing Fiction

Making the Imaginative Leap

Colum McCann will guide a small workshop group on the journey towards writing outside of our immediate experience.  How does the writer gather the courage to go elsewhere?  How does he/she make the imaginative leap into a character that seems so different to oneself?  How and where does a writer draw the lines?  How does he/she garner the language to go into uncharted territory?  The workshop will include in-depth discussion of craft and, if possible given time constraints, one short writing exercise.  

Red Oak North & South 10:10am to 11:40am

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Writing Fiction

BUILDING THE DOOR & THE 7 C's OF SUSPENSE

When a story is slow, we sometimes think we need to make more things happen, but, really, what we need to do, is make more promises. Suspense equals worry, and it occurs in the quiet space between the promise of something dreadful (or wonderful) and its arrival (or failure to arrive). We'll talk about creating characters we care about and putting them in trouble. We'll talk about the closed door, Nolan's bug, Hitchcock's bomb, and Gorey's alphabet. About abstract adjectives, telling details, protecting the unknown (even as we reveal it), and why King calls horror "the art of disappointment." We'll talk, too, about deemphasizing the climax and sustaining apprehension beyond the last word. About getting under the reader's skin. About the story balloon (the pop, the fart, and, worst of all, the pinhole leak). About Creepypasta and The Dog’s Lick. We’ll talk about broken sharks, dented helmets, waxpaper boats, Sebastian Shaw, and that half-smile at the end of Psycho. Plus: cold duck, Giger’s Big Chap, and three ways to fire a rubber band.

Red Oak North & South 1:10pm to 2:40pm

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Writing Fiction

PLOT

Many authors find, counterintuitively, that plot is the most challenging part of creating fiction: it’s easy to make up the people, but hard to figure out what to do with them.  This is true even though plot is the most elemental part of storytelling, the thing we use when we relay gossip to our friends, tell our partners about our day, or explain the world to our children. This session will help writers find the tools they need to create compelling plot, exploring the mechanics of action.  We’ll examine how to build sympathy for characters and suspense about what’s going to happen to them next.  We’ll also find the connecting points between character, voice, and plot, and consider the way these crucial elements of fiction relate to one another. 

Red Oak North & South 2:50pm to 3:50pm