Hone Your Craft: The 2017 Conference Offers Opportunity for Advanced & Beginning Writers

As we’ve mentioned before, our schedule of educational programming includes 9 tracks of themed content from across the spectrum of what writers need to know and want to celebrate. Our Genre offerings for this year take up two of those tracks: one for beginners and novices, the other for intermediate and professional writers. And the lineup, if we do say so ourselves, is excellent.

It doesn’t matter what kind of book you write, it won’t be a great book if you don’t know the basics of your craft. Thinking otherwise is like believing you can build a good house without knowing basic carpentry. Whether you need to learn the very basics, or you’re looking to polish a few blemished pages of your fourteenth manuscript, our faculty has just the thing you need.

Willamette Writers Conference stalwarts Larry Brooks and Eric Witchey will teach classes at both levels. Larry offers his world-class insight on the larger structure of your writing, with Eric showing you how he works his magic with individual scenes.

Famed and familiar fantasy writer Kay Kenyon will offer help at the center with presentations on “The Glorious Middle,” and stellar author of page and screen Steven Barnes discusses how to apply the structure of story to creating the story with “Lifewriting for Writers.”

You’ll also find offerings for solving some of the stickiest challenges for writers of every stripe. Alaya Dawn Johnson, bestselling author of the Zephyr Hollis novels among many others, teaches us about mastering timeline shifts, and the necessary abandonment of your favorite characters and themes. Marilyn Atlas will guide you through “Navigating Emotional Corridors” while urban fantasy giant Craig English helps you build a character readers can’t help but love (or hate), and on the process of successful co-authoring. Carolyn Wright, Pacific Northwest poet extraordinaire, will lead a workshop on using verse to inform your writing and make it sing.

Our very own Cynthia Whitcomb and Debby Dodds are also taking the stage. Cynthia will be teaching a class on dialogue for screenwriters and novelists, while Debby offers advice of bringing humor to comedic and serious novels alike.

You want panels? We got your panels right here: a strong lineup with multiple voices from top professionals in the field.

Our genre track panels start with “Write the Perfect Query Letter,” an eponymous panel where agents from all over North America teach you how to not let your letter writing get in the way of publishing a beautifully writing book. “Help! Solve My Problem” gives you a chance to ask a carefully assembled expert ensemble how to fix the biggest challenges to your writing success. We’ll close Friday with an important discussion of diverse voices in the writing world: what’s been happening, how it’s changing, and what you can do about it as a writer. Finally, we bring a handful of grizzled writing veterans together for a talk called “Making Mistakes So You Don’t Have To,” where they share the biggest hiccups and pratfalls of their own career.

For the more adult-oriented writers, our Willamette Writers After Dark events Friday night offer advice on violence, sex, and writing difficult characters. Follow this link for more information about those programs.

As always, we’ve assembled a team of agents interested in literary fiction, ready to hear your pitch and maybe represent you.

  • Alexander Slater of Trident Media Group
  • Angela Rinaldi, President of The Angela Rinaldi Literary Agency
  • Annie Hwang from Folio Literary Management
  • Jody Rein, a conference repeat offender with editing and agent credentials
  • Lisa Abellera of Kimberly Cameron and Associates
  • Michelle Brower with Aevitas
  • Rachel Letofsky from the Cooke Agency
  • Saba Sulaiman of Talcott Notch Literary Services

Each has their own specific “wish list” of types of literary novel, so check their bios to make certain you have a great match.

Finally, many of our presenters have books coming out this year. You’ll find them on our bookstore stage for more intimate interviews and talks, along with a chance for a quick visit.

The fundamentals can be boring, but they never have to be. The team of teachers we’ve brought out this year will make learning them both interesting and inspiring.