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What’s a Stand-alone?: A Little Known Path to Publication

Saturday, August 5, 2017
10:00 am - 11:30 am
Cascade A

Our book-length manuscripts are composed of rich veins of raw material we can craft into “stand-alones.” A stand-alone is an excerpt from a book-length manuscript, edited to stand alone as a fiction or memoir short story: with a hook, complications rising to a climax, character arc and a satisfying end. A published stand-alone solves the conundrum, “You can’t get published without an agent and you can’t get an agent unless you’re published.” A published stand-alone also attracts small presses (who don’t work with agents) to your whole book-length manuscript. This info-rich presentation includes step-by-step instructions for crafting award-winning stand-alones, and an exercise to jump start a stand-alone, whether your book manuscript is rough or polished.


C. Lill Ahrens

Award-winning author, C. Lill Ahrens, has a special fondness for people trying to transmit stories from their heads to their readers’ minds, using only 26 letters in black and white. And she believes in the potential of every unpublished story. Over the past ten years, as an editor for Calyx Journal and the contest director for Oregon Writers Colony, Lill has read thousands of unpublished stories and discussed the finalists with her fellow editors and judges. Thus she’s learned why some stories make the final cut while others fall short, and how to raise them to the next level and beyond. This knowledge, coupled with her supportive and productive method of critique – Socratic conversation with the writer – puts aspiring writers on the fast track to success.

Lill is also an editorial consultant, a writers coach, and teaches her guided critique class, “The Writers’ Workroom” aka “The Writers’ Ready Room” in Corvallis. Many of Lill’s writing clients and students become award-winning published authors. As for Lill, ten years of conversationally critiquing her clients and students has taught her the myriad ways aspiring writers can shoot their story in the foot. Though the wound isn’t fatal, it does slow progress. So she’s developed checklists for self-editing, giving writers more control over their stories from the start. And to help students and clients improve their craft on their own, Lill teaches them how to learn from the stories of their favorite authors. Unlike other artists, authors can’t hide their tricks and techniques. Everything we want to learn about the craft is hiding in plain sight on the surface of the page.

Since 2008, Lill has given 19 presentations and workshops for writing events and organizations, including: Oregon Writers Colony, Willamette Writers Salem branch and Coast branch, Willamette Writers on the River, LBBC’s conference “Fooling Around with Words,” and OSU’s Academy of Lifelong Learning. Scheduled so far for 2017 are OWC’s Literary Lounge and the South Coast Writers Conference (two presentations and a six-hour workshop). Lill also emcees quarterly open mikes for WwotR in Corvallis, and organizes and emcees the annual OWC contest awards ceremony.

Lill’s own award-winning true stories appear in numerous literary journals and anthologies, including Best Womens Travel Writing 2008 (Travelers Tales). To sample her writing, go to www.CLillAhrens.com and click the button at the top. Lill resides in Corvallis with her husband Paul.

Her current writing project is a how-to-write book, “Creating a Movie in Your Reader’s Mind: Self-editing for Prose Writers,” a compilation of what she’s learned by teaching. To contact Lill directly: cclill@comcast.net