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RWA Online's 2019 Workshop Schedule

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February 2019:

Surprises, Secrets, and Revelations - Adding Memorable Twists to your Stories presented by Peter Andrews

Class Begins: Feb 4, 2019

Class Length: Three weeks


 How do you keep a reader engaged? One tool is using the desire to find out what happens next. That means predictability is the death of stories. Many people will put down a mystery as soon as they figure out whodunit. And “spoilers” that give away turns and plot points in a movie or a TV show can ruin the experience for audiences.


Twists in the story road add interest by shifting power, revealing intent, and taking things in unexpected directions. They may be tiny or they may be huge. Chandler suggested adding someone coming through the door with a gun when things got slow. Dickens exploited secrets, including family relationships. O. Henry made a career with surprise endings. The Sixth Sense reset the reality of the story in the final minutes of the film.


Surprises may come naturally, as when writers surprise readers because they surprise themselves. But they also can be planned, injected, shaped, and highlighted deliberately.


Lesson 1 The uses of surprise, secrets, and revelations

Lesson 2 Raising questions and surprising yourself

Lesson 3 Faking out the reader without being fake

Lesson 4 Mistakes to avoid

Lesson 5 Pacing (expected/unexpected)

Lesson 6 Planting information

Lesson 7 Revolting developments (amplifying impact)

Lesson 8 Delving deeper

Lesson 9 Working for wonder


April 2019: 

Flashbacks that Please Your Editor and Don’t Confuse Your Reader Presented by MM Pollard

Class begins: April 1, 2019

Class Length: Four weeks


 Flashbacks are a device that a writer must use with care, or she might lose her reader in that distant past, never to see that reader again. We’ll consider kinds of flashbacks, uses for flashbacks, and reasons not to use flashbacks.

Flashbacks present a problem with verb tenses. Since a flashback is past, but you’re writing in past tense, how do you show the flashback is more past than past? Confused? Trust me, you aren’t the only one. Editor and writing coach Laurie Sanders says that the poorly written flashback is one of the reasons for rejected manuscripts.

Lesson Outline: Homework with every lesson with instructor feedback

Lesson 1: What Are Flashbacks, Why Are They Used, and Are They the Only Way to Do That?

Lesson 2: Should You Use Flashbacks and What are the Rules?

Lesson 3: What Are the Different Lengths of Flashbacks?

Lesson 4: How Do You Clearly Signal Transitions between Story and Flashback?

Lesson 5: Verb review

Lesson 6: How Do You Write a Flashback in a Story Written in Past Tense?

Lesson 7: How Do You Write a Flashback in a Story Written in Present Tense?

Lesson 8: Review and Your Turn

Lesson 9: MM’s comments on your flashbacks

Reward for doing your homework: MM’s personal feedback – like mini edits.


June 2019:


Write the Effing Book presented by Mary E. Thompson

Class Begins: June 3, 2019

Class Length: Three weeks



You have an idea. It's a great one. You know you can turn it into a book that will sell like crazy. But you just don't know where to get started.


This workshop will take you through the process of plotting out your novel in a way that even (brave) pantsers will want to try. We will dive into who your characters are, what they really want, and why they think they can’t have it. We will plot the major points of your novel, and you will walk away with a plan that gives you enough detail to get started, whether you are a plotter and want to have each piece in place or a pantser who likes finding the surprise inside your story.


By dissecting popular novels, we will explore multiple examples of how to take your idea from something small to something spectacular.


Course Syllabus:

Lesson One - Getting Started

Lesson Two - Get To Know Your Characters

Lesson Three - Digging Deeper Into Your Characters

Lesson Four - Goal, Motivation, and Conflict

Lesson Five - The Black Moment

Lesson Six - Character Arc

Lesson Seven - Turning Points

Lesson Eight - Fill In The Gaps

Lesson Nine - Break Their Rules, Not Yours


 August 2019:


Crafting Memorable Dialogue presented by Joni Fisher

Class Begins: August 5, 2019

Class Length: Four weeks



We’ve all slogged through novels with boring, predictable, or chit-chat dialogue. In many genres, dialogue makes up half of the novel, so dialogue can make or break your bond with readers. You can learn how to craft purposeful, quotable dialogue, by discovering and applying techniques used by screenwriters and playwrights. The 4-week Crafting Memorable Dialogue Workshop offers ten practical lessons to apply immediately to your work in progress. At the end of each of the 10 lessons, students apply the lesson to their own work.


The lessons are:

           discovering when and when not to use dialogue

           infusing the scene with the right level of conflict

           employing text and subtext

           creating suspense

           transforming the predictable

           cutting to the chase

           individualizing characters through speech markers

           applying the stimulus/response pattern for clarity

           using three types of tags to show goals motivations and conflict

           and formatting and punctuating dialogue properly.


The first five people to sign up will receive a detailed critique on the first 5,000-8,000 words of their manuscript.


October 2019:

Killer Openings presented by Alexa Bourne

Class Begins: September 30, 2019

Class Length: Four weeks



Students will learn the importance of a good opening and gain a better understanding of what makes a “killer opening.”  Students will study examples of good and bad openings and discuss why they do or don’t work.  Students will also submit their own opening lines/paragraphs/pages and receive a critique.


Week 1:

Introduction- Class goals, “rules” for proper respectful participation, student


introductions, instructor disclaimer


Importance of openings, what makes a good opening


*Instructor presents examples (from different genres) of good openings & why


they work


Week 2:  

 *Students present examples of good openings & why they work


*Instructor presents examples (from different genres) of bad openings & why they


don’t work.


*Students present examples of bad openings & why they don’t work


Weeks 3:              

*1st lines, then students present examples from own manuscripts, critique


*1st paragraphs- Students present examples from own manuscripts, critique


Week 4: *1st page- Students present examples from own manuscripts, critique


Discuss makings of a good 1st chapter


(Questions/Catch up- if needed)


Wrap Up-final thoughts, comments, questions. 


*While each of these lessons has the instructor critiquing the work (whether published examples or student work), I will invite students to comment when they want as long as they are respectful about it and their comments are constructive criticism.

 December 2019:

Writing Short presented by Jacqui Jacoby

Class Begins: December 2, 2019

Class Length: Two weeks



In this workshop, we address not only the steps to creating a shorter

piece of fiction, but also ways in which it can be used to further your

promotional standing, as well as sold in the market.  Both structure, creation and promotion is provided.


Two days per week are lectures, with the rest being unlimited Q&A sessions.


Reminder: If you are an RWA Online Chapter member, you receive all of our workshops for free.

If you are not a member, and you belong to RWA, you can join our chapter. 


Check out our workshop page: https://rwaonlinechapter.org/

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