Willamette Writers Portland

Willamette Writers Chapters are local writing communities where writers improve their craft and acquire the career skills required in today's publishing world.

Portland Chapter monthly meetings have 70 to 100 attendees. Meetings are normally held the first Tuesday of each month at the historic Old Church in downtown Portland. No meetings in August when we head to the Willamette Writers Conference.

Monthly meetings are open to all writers 18 and older. Members attend for free.  Read on to learn about our chapter, and join our mailing list to keep in touch.

Become a Willamette Writers Member today to enjoy membership benefits (like free meetings) and to support our community of writers.

Upcoming Meeting

There are no upcoming events at this time.

About the Meetings

The Portland Chapter holds monthly meetings for writers in the Portland metropolitan area. Members from other chapters are always welcome as are writers new to Willamette Writers.

Unless otherwise stated...

Meeting Time

The Portland Chapter meets on the first Tuesday of each month except for August when we head to the Willamette Writers Conference.

Meeting Location

Meetings are held at the historic Old Church in downtown Portland.

The Historic Old Church

1422 SW 11th Ave.
Portland, OR 97201

Meeting Format

  • 6:30-7:00 p.m., Meeting Setup, Signup, Fellowship and Refreshments
  • 7:00-8:15 p.m., News and Announcements followed by the Program
  • 8:15-8:30 p.m., Book signings, silent auctions, or other events in the back room

Meeting Cost

Monthly meetings at all the chapters are free for members of Willamette Writers. Fee for nonmembers to attend meetings at the Portland chapter meetings is $5 (suggested donation).

Thank you for your support!

Would you like to be a speaker?

We are always looking for new speakers from around the region and around the country. Do you have a topic of interest to present to writers in our region?

Please contact us for scheduling and details. 

The Chapter Co-Chairs

The Portland Chapter is run by two co-chairs who together create a program to fit the needs and interests of the Willamette Writers members from the Portland area.

Bill Johnson

Bill is author of A Story is a Promise and The Spirit of Storytelling, a workbook that explores how to create dramatic, engaging stories; and web master of Essays on the Craft of Dramatic Writing, a site that explores principles of storytelling through reviews of popular movies, books and plays. His plays have been produced around the US, Mexico, and England.

Visit Bill's website, storyispromise.com and follow him on Facebook @bjscript and on Twitter @bjscript.

Monica Hay

 

Past Chairs of the Portland Chapter

Connect with the Chapter

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Volunteer with the Chapter

Are you a local writer and want to be more involved with the Portland Chapter? Volunteer!

How would you like to be involved? Get in touch and let us know how you’d like help.

Click here for other volunteer opportunities at Willamette Writers.

Chapter Blog Posts and Updates

What Agents Want – Tips from Meeting with Literary Agent Laura Bradford

At the April 4 Willamette Writers meeting, attendees got to hear from Laura Bradford, founder of Bradford Literary Agency, about what agents look for in writers. Here are some key takeaways from the presentation. Are You Someone Agents Want to Work With? Be nice. If your personality is too demanding, or if you are not receptive to the agent’s changes or suggestions, you likely will not get representation. Be cognizant of your social media presence. Laura admitted to looking at authors’ social media profiles if she likes what they’ve submitted—this gives her a glimpse into the author’s personality, and she can get a good feel for whether this will be someone she wants to represent. What Are Agents Looking For? Laura sympathized with writers who are tired of hearing agents say they want something “new and fresh.” Ultimately, she said, agents want “something that’s the same enough, but different enough.” How Important Is Personality in a Query Letter? Literary agents get hundreds of queries a month—Laura said she gets about a thousand. When an audience member asked how important it is to show personality in a query letter, Laura said that with the amount of queries she gets, you wouldn’t be the first person to try something new and different in your query. She likely won’t read it and think, Wow, I’ve never seen that before. Agents read through query letters quickly, so don’t waste their time. Laura’s advice: Get to the point, and provide the details agents are looking for: title, word count, genre, and hook. And be sure to follow submission guidelines.   Good Luck!

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November 2017 Meetings

Join us for a meeting or write-in in November!

Happy November! We have a great month ahead of us at Willamette Writers. We’re kicking off the month talking about memoir in Eugene, and then Patricia Morrison will show us how to finish our projects. We will explore Fearless Writing in Portland with William Kenower, and also dive into improv with Marian Scadden. David Paul Williams will bring us into contracts, and we’ll finish out the month with meetings in Corvallis and Newport. We will be writing throughout the month in celebration of NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month). If you want to get words in too, join us at one of the many write-ins across the state. We’ve listed a few of ours, then linked to so many others. Good luck with NANOWRIMO, and happy writing this November! -Willamette Writers Team Chapter Meetings Mid-Valley Chapter Memoir: It’s Not About You with Linda Clare November 2nd at 6:30 pm at Tsunami Books Southern Oregon Chapter 7 keys to finishing your big project with Patricia Morrison November 4th at 9:30 am at Central Point City Hall Council Chambers Portland Chapter Fearless Writing with William Kenower November 7th at 6:30 pm at the Old Church Portland Young Willamette Writers Dialogue, Improv, and Writing Scripts and Fiction with Marian Scadden November 7th at 6:30 pm at the Old Church Salem Chapter “Contracts, Copyrights & Taxes, Oh My! What Writers Need To Know About Business” with David Paul Williams November 16th at 6:30 pm at the Salem Public Library Corvallis Chapter November 27th at 6:30 pm at Corvallis First Presbyterian Church Oregon Coast Chapter November 19th at 2 pm at the Newport Library Write-ins Willamette Writers at Another Read Through in Portland We’ll meet every Monday from 10 am to noon in the loft! Join us! Official NANOWRIMO events NANOWRIMO Write-Ins in Portland NANOWRIMO Write-Ins in the Rogue Valley NANOWRIMO Write-ins in Salem NANOWRIMO Write-Ins in Corvallis For more information on NANOWRIMO, click here.

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Author Marketing – Notes from WW Portland Meeting with Tex Thompson

The June 6th Willamette Writers meeting was a wonderful time to be in community with one of my very favorite presenters from last year’s conference, Tex Thompson. The presentation focused on how writers can promote and market themselves, a topic that has become more and more important as the entire publishing landscape shifts into an entirely different geography (think west of I-5 after “the big one,” that’s what’s going on here). From start to finish, writers have to be more aware than ever about what it is they’re writing, who it appeals to, why, and how this work can get to that audience. Teams of marketing agents no longer do all the work to promote your book; more and more often, the writer must take ownership of these aspects of publishing. Tex gave the audience a formula for understanding our work in relation to the other passions of our lives, providing exercises that reinforce just how pervasive our passions are. And pervasive is a good thing because if you’re a fan of Firefly–like Tex is and as I am and as many others in that room and thousands more in this city and hundreds of thousands more are across this country (and that’s a vast understatement)–then you already have your “in”. You have your way to relate what you’ve created, which may have some Firefly-esque themes, to others who would want to read it. Author Self-Promotion Nuts and Bolts Tex also provided us a few nuts and bolts of what we can do in regards to self-promotion. Take your passions and write about them. Create a blog. Submit a magazine article. Write a review and post it on Goodreads (you were going to read that book anyway, right? Why not write a review about it and maybe get a few followers?). Some other ideas took me by surprise: organize an event. Sponsor a contest or fellowship. Create a group around what you’re passionate for. You get the idea – self-promotion does not have to be all about me, this book, me, this story, me…while your listener begins to stare off into space, eyes glazing as she mentally calculates just how far she can get away from you and how fast. Self-promotion can be all about doing the things you love, sharing them in a variety of ways, and building community with and for people who are your built-in audience. Tex provided a road-map to the logline we can shoot out to an agent, and not surprisingly, it follows very closely the formula DongWon Song shared in his seminar a few months back: “My work will appeal to fans of X, written in the style of Y.” Also key, make sure your book comps come from within the past 5 years because agents or publishers want to know that you know what’s going on outside the little “word cave” you otherwise hole yourself up in. Fun & Games? The seminar wasn’t all fun and games, though, which is to say that…

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Jessica Morrell Meeting Notes 2017 04 Willamette Writers PDX

Why Characters Do What They Do – Notes from WW Portland Meeting with Jessica Morrell

This contributed piece brings notes from Willamette Writers Portland’s April 4th, 2017 Meeting with author and editor Jessica Morrell by member Amy Foster Myer. Enjoy! Having seen Jessica Morell present at the 2016 Willamette Writers Conference, I can tell you she is an amazing presenter who provides an absolute wealth of information in a speck of time. She is truly a gift to the writing community and an exemplar of what I believe it means to be a good literary citizen. To decide for yourself, just check out her blog. Since Jessica’s presentations are bursting with information, I will present here only the highlights from the meeting. Why Is the Character in Your Story? All characters must have a reason for being in your story. They must perform some duty to the narrative arc. Jessica shared that she so often comes across characters in her clients’ novels that seem to be running around rather aimlessly, where they either don’t have goals at all, their goals are “goofy,” or the stakes of the story don’t match the goals. Jessica made a key point that nearly all the answers of why characters do what they do links back to structure. It All Boils Down to Motivation While there was quite a bit of information covered, it all boils down to this one thing: motivations – they are a must for your story to have any lift. Without a clear motivation and goal, readers don’t know what or who to root for, and if we don’t know what’s at stake, then there’s nothing at stake for us in reading it. According to Jessica, motivations must: be easy to understand; not easy to achieve be shown in actions and move the story forward become more complex and personal as story progresses showcase the protagonist’s core traits reveal the protagonist’s fears exact a cost as the story progresses – your protagonist must always sacrifice something create a catharsis at the climax We also have Levels of Motivation: Primary Secondary External – tangible, visible, fuels story, creates action Internal Personal Public Creating Tension Through Conflict Between Internal & External Motivations As we see with the above, each motivation must have two sides, the side that is shown to the world of the story – i.e. the other characters – and the side that is available to the protagonist and reader alone. Clearly, quite a bit of tension can exist in the space between a protagonist’s apparent external motivators and his/her internal motivators actually are. Imagine this like a tight wire stretching between the two, your main character balancing as he/she walks back and forth. Whole novels have been built on the tension between what a character says they want, and what they actually want. Read More Click here to read the full meeting recap including links to 2016 conference notes as well as details on the questions we should all be asking about our characters to ensure that each character in our novel (yup, I said “each”) has a believable and intrinsic set of motivations…

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Leading a Literary Life – Notes from WW Portland Meeting with Kevin Sampsell and Monica Drake

Notes from the conversation between Kevin Sampsell And Monica Drake about leading a literary life at Willamette Writers Portland’s Monthly Meeting, February 07, 2017, by member Amy Foster Myer. In the month’s meeting in Portland, Kevin Sampsell and Monica Drake touched on a subject close to the heart of many writers – leading a literary life and its very important cousin – being a good literary citizen. Being a Good Literary Citizen Being a good literary citizen is all about supporting other writers, buying their books, going to their readings, and cheering on the successes of each of our counterparts while working toward our own literary goals. Both authors agreed that good writers must do these four things: Read – A LOT Be around other writers Go to Readings Participate in a literary community Generating Rich Work – A Writer’s Life Can’t Be All Literary Interestingly, another key aspect of being a writer is having plenty of things in your life that have nothing at all to do with writing. See Lorrie Moore’s story “How to be a Writer” for more. As Monica explained, her life was full of all kinds of random jobs – animal behavior intern at the zoo, art gallery employee, office worker, clown (which directly influenced her novel Clown Girl) and more. Because of this rich range of job experiences, she can pull various details that lend her characters believability and authenticity. This mirrors advice I once received from Portland author Vanessa Veselka, who said every writer must give him or herself permission to not write – i.e. to do other things that build the experiences that inform our writing. For instance, Vanessa once took off some number of months to work on a fishing boat in Alaska. She’s also a Kung Fu badass. She gives herself permission to take weeks and months away from the page to do the things that interest and intrigue her. And of course, that time ends up generating rich work. Educating the Writer in You Each author had very different experiences when it comes to education. with Monica completing a more traditional graduate program through the University of Arizona, while Kevin said he taught himself to write through reading. Monica also got her start with Tom Spanbauer’s class, now titled Dangerous Writing. In general, writing workshops can be key to keeping a writer motivated, staying connected to a literary community, and finding support in that community. In addition, community colleges offer a range of writing classes that are economical and a great opportunity for developing work. My current writing group came out of a Literary Arts class and I have been in other writing groups formed after Attic workshops and PCC community-ed workshops. Advice on Getting in the Creative Mood Monica shared that because she’s balancing so many responsibilities between parenting, teaching, and writing, she often stores quite a bit of material in her head and when she has a moment to write it down, she’ll do that. She also…

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FiLMLaB Turns Five

Being five is going to be so awesome! We should have a party. With cake. I suggest Tuesday, January 5th. Our regular hangout, The Old Church, is closed for remodeling, so we’ve booked the Copeland Commons room at TaborSpace instead. We’ll still open the doors at 6:30 and get things going at 7:00, which means I will have to stand in front of you, in my new and official capacity as the Visual Media Director for Willamette Writers, and launch the 2016 FiLMLaB Contest. Will there be writing prompts? If so, how many and what kind? Will the script still be limited to seven pages and four characters? Will there be a round of celebrity judging? Will they provide notes? Will there be a rewrite opportunity before the winner is chosen for the Grand Prize: production of their short script? Nearly all of those questions can be answered with a Yes or a No. To find out which one goes with which, you’ll need to come to the party (or wait till the contest parameters go online that night). FiLMLaB is a contained contest, meaning we have to have limitations on story. We can’t have you going full on James Cameron with loads of special effects and casts of thousands. We’re never going to have the budget for that! So we rein you in, give you a few rules to comply with and force your imagination to work harder. It is a good exercise for any writer, even if you don’t submit to the contest. So please come! Like last year, you can help decide at least one of the prompts! But that’s not all. We have some things to talk about, you and I. We don’t have to get it all figured out on the 5th, but I do want to know what you’d like to see in Visual Media (see what I did there?). This is a new position on your Board of Directors, created specifically to broaden our outreach and services to all writers. FiLMLaB is the most obvious to fall under the Visual Media umbrella, but what will keep it company? What does Visual Media suggest to you? Screenwriting? Playwriting? Graphic novels? Writing for web-series? Writing your book trailer or promotional video? Web content? As I said, we won’t get it all figured out right away. Programs take time to develop and execute, but we can get a few things started. For example, one of my goals is to represent Visual Media in a series of monthly lectures, workshops or networking events. During the first quarter of 2016 while our contest is open, workshops will focus on short script writing to support our members interested in submitting. After the contest closes we’ll begin to offer different kinds of events to support different areas of VM. In the immediate future, keep an eye out for a trio of FiLMLaB workshops taught by our Mentor-In-Chief, Randall Jahnson. You may know Randall from his conference classes or his work with Steven…

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Ellen Urbani, author and speaker, talks about preparing your book to launch

Pre-Launch Machinations

You wrote a book. It’s been acquired! Now what in the world do you do with yourself?
Every writer has heard the axiom that penning a book is only the first in a long run of hurdles, and if we’re honest with ourselves every last one of us has believed that must be a mendacious proposition. Writing is hard work.

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