If you’ve been waiting to register for the WU Un-Conference — hoping to clear your work schedule or land a great price through your favorite airline — heads up: We’ll be closing our Eventbrite page a few days early, on Halloween. We still have a few coupon codes left, and we’d love to have you join us.
If you can’t make it, and — as one writer recently told me — you’re witch green with envy over it all, never fear. We’ll have a recap of events for you that will go up over the winter break. We’ll be trying something new in terms of gathering details during and after the event, too, which we hope will make the Un-Un-Con experience rich in its own virtual way.
We do still have a few spots, and we do still have a few days, and we really would love to have you join us.
Some additional details we hope will tip you over the edge in our direction — our session summaries:
[pullquote]Can’t make the WU Un-Conference? Don’t despair. We’ll have recaps coming to you in December, and we intend to keep Twitter hopping with info from Salem. Please do watch for our hashtag: #WUUnCon. [/pullquote]
WIRED FOR STORY: Every writer wants to tell a story that hooks readers and never lets them go, and to find a way to accomplish that without going through the long slog of writing draft after draft. This workshop with UCLA writing instructor Lisa Cron presents actionable ways to meet both goals, with five steps you can take before you start writing that can save you months (or years) of work. Learn what your readers’ brains crave.
THROUGHNESS — Writing From A Deep Place: Everyone talks about “the zone” as the source of authentic writing, but where is it and how do you get there? This session is all about adventures in the unconscious mind, and what award-winning author Meg Rosoff learned from taking up Dressage at age 50.
FIRST PAGES — Conquering the Jaundiced Eye: The first page is the most critical in a submission to an agent or editor, as it has to compel him or her to turn to the next page. This workshop with editor Ray Rhamey is “immersion” training in seeing the shortcomings that cripple a first page. Attendees can submit their own first pages for analysis during the session—and learn lessons that can transfer to other pages too. (See survey for information on how to submit pages to Ray.)
METHOD WRITING (and eating): Join author Brunonia Barry for an illuminating and potentially entertaining session as she advises session-goers how to slip into the skin of their characters in order to best write their worlds. This session will span over a lunch, and you’ll be encouraged to “eat in character.” Note: The cost of lunch isn’t included, so please bring cash to the Witch’s Brew restaurant.
IF YOU MUST FAIL, FAIL BIG–On Risk: The voice we often hear in our heads is that of our “ferocious editor,” a demon of sorts who keeps us from taking appropriate creative risks for fear that “they” (whoever “they” are) won’t like it. Well, guess what? Some of them won’t. If you’d like to know why that’s not only okay but actually a desirable result, check out this colloquy and discussion with John Vorhaus, who knows a thing or two about fear. You’re guaranteed to emerge not just tolerating risk but actually embracing it as a vital and exceedingly fun part of your creative process.
SETTING AS CHARACTER: Authors Brunonia Barry and Liz Michalski run a unique workshop, beginning in the House of the Seven Gables Visitors Center and moving into a variety of rooms within the historic Hooper Hathaway House. Learn how setting can become like a true character within your novel.
SQUEEZING OUT THE STUPID–On Revision: Of all the creative arts, only writing admits an editor. Would Rodin takes notes on The Thinker? Would van Gogh accept red lines on Starry Night? Yet writers are expected not only to take brutal feedback from editors and beta readers, but to actually embrace it as a healthy part of the creative process. Let’s look into that with author John Vorhaus. You’ll pick up all sorts of handy tips for “squeezing out the stupid” and producing a manuscript that’s as perfcet as it can be.
VELVETEEN CHARACTERS–Flesh and Blood on the Page: A large part of a story’s potential to have an effect on and even change a reader relies on our capacity to turn characters born thin as paper into authentic flesh-and-blood human beings. Once Real happens, and readers can empathize with these people we’ve created, story magic is truly possible. Velveteen characters who turned Real on Therese Walsh throw her under the bus and tell you how they really made it happen. Bring a notebook; there may be exercises.
FUEL FROM DOUBT: Lisa Cron will lead this first evening “Book Therapy” session on doubt, and explain how it doesn’t have to be a bad thing – in fact, it’s a pretty normal thing. Use your doubt to fuel your writing, and grow stronger not in spite of it but because of it. Bring your doubt to the session, and let’s talk about it.
STORY VERSUS AND PLOT: Thirty-second TV commercials can cause us to feel more than a manuscript can in three hundred pages. What actually causes readers to respond emotionally? A discussion of emotional impact and how it happens with Donald Maass, Lisa Cron, Brunonia Barry, and others.
PASSION FOR STORY–Finding What You Must Write: Writing what you love is more compelling than writing what you know. Ideas come from passion, and passion is what forces you to put your butt in the chair again and again. Passion sees you through crappy first drafts and dead ends and long periods of frustration because you love your story and you can’t not tell it. Sit in on this session with author Kathleen McCleary and let’s talk about what you love enough to sustain you through years of writing a novel.
MICRO-TENSION–Page Turning Magic: Page turners in all categories have one thing in common – line-by-line tension that forces readers to read every word. What creates that tension? Action? A character’s inner state? Language alone? Yes, yes, and yes – if you understand the technique. A discussion led by agent Donald Maass.
WHERE STORY COMES FROM: What is the process of writing a book like? How do characters determine their own destiny? What about that famous “Eureka!” magic—and what if that doesn’t happen to you? What does it mean if you get stuck halfway? And other writerly questions – with Meg Rosoff.
WHEN TO LISTEN AND WHAT TO HEAR–On Criticism: From his tenure with the National Critics Institute doing decades of professional criticism, Porter Anderson has learned there are clear signals (even from unclear critics) about what’s valid and what isn’t. Porter shares his insights with us in this informative session.
WRITING THROUGH HARD TIMES (& the D Word–Depression): When everything in your life is going wrong at once, do you keep writing? How? Can hardship actually improve your writing? Can you write while depressed? Should you? Multi-published author Kathleen McCleary discusses how to find the positive aspects of these difficult states, and use them to nurture the creative process.
GOOD READS, BAD REVIEWS, NEUROTIC WRITERS: Author Erika Robuck will lead this evening event, sharing some of her own worst reviews before calling on others to share their negative reviews/critiques/rejections as well. She’s calling it an UN-reading (of course!). With the cash bar a stone’s throw away, this is guaranteed to be both therapeutic and a lot of fun.
HOW GOOD MANUSCRIPTS GO WRONG—Fatal Flaws and Final Hurdles: When you can no longer see your manuscript objectively, what are you missing? When editors don’t “love it enough,” what’s still needed? A discussion of brick walls and how to break through them led by agent Donald Maass.
HATING ON THE DRAFT: Ever re-read your novel and think, “What a piece of junk”, then proceed to fall down a tunnel of despair and self-loathing? You are not alone. Authors Catherine McKenzie and Heather Webb discuss the emotional rollercoaster of writing a novel and its various stages from drafting to editing, offer insights into their own writing practices, and supply techniques for shaping “junk” into jewels.
VOICE–Finding Your Self and Your Subject: It’s not about getting published or selling books or thinking about your audience. It’s not about writing chick-lit or fantasy or literary fiction the way you think it should be written. It’s about finding out who you are, how your reactions to life are different from anyone else’s and what you have to say that isn’t like anyone else. This workshop with author Meg Rosoff explores who you are and helps you discover what you should be writing about – if you don’t already know.
SECONDARY CHARACTERS—A Secret Ingredient: Story in a slump? Want to understand how to overcome the dreaded middle? Need a way to illuminate something new about your protagonist? Look no further than secondary characters. A discussion led by agent Donald Maass.
SUBCONSCIOUS WRITING: Why do some books have such a compelling voice? How did 50 Shades of Grey become such a huge hit? What’s the difference between an authentic book and one that lies there like a lox? Stumble toward your personal answers with author Meg Rosoff.
COMIC TOOLBOX–Writing Funny Even When You’re Not: We only have 90 minutes so author John Vorhaus won’t attempt any more than this – the comic premise; comedy and cruelty; basic comic tools; creating comic characters; comic story structure; blending comic and serious storylines; making and keeping comic promises; harmonizing comic and serious tones; and the Law of Kevin (don’t forget to ask). If we run out of topics before time, we’ll discuss current LIBOR rates or how water-free toilets work. Come prepared to be funny—even if you’re not.
WRITE ON–On Perseverance: If Writer Unboxed has a motto this is it: Write On! Because Write On is what writers need to learn how to do more than anything. Write on – through the doubts, the disappointments, the disillusionments, the first and second and third drafts, the shitty reviews, industry shifts, and more. Authors Jael McHenry and Therese Walsh, seasoned multi-draft professionals, know all about perseverance and are happy to share with you their stories from the trenches, sanity saving tips, and the pep-talks that pulled them over the finish line.
BREAKING YOUR BOX–Stretching In Ways You Need To/Don’t Want To: Agent Donald Maass leads this final evening session before his full-day workshop on Friday. How to overcome your internal obstacles so you can become the best writer possible. Bring your resistances—or whatever is left of them—and we’ll knock them down.
With the addition of “Cold Lunch, Hot Topic” discussions; “Book Therapy” sessions focused on your troubled tales; reading opportunities during “Bed Time Stories;” a tour of the House of the Seven Gables; and a Wicked Good book signing, what more could a writer ask for?
Crave more details? You’ll learn everything you could want to know on our Eventbrite page.
See you on the other side! Until then, write on!