In my time as a writing instructor, I’ve led seminars at conferences including the University of Wisconsin Writers’ Institute, WisCon, and Great River Writes. I’m also an instructor for the University of Wisconsin’s Division of Continuing Studies in Writing and the Stoughton (Wisconsin) Center for the Arts.
Below you’ll find a sample of my course offerings. For a complete list or to inquire about my availability to teach at your upcoming conference or event, get in touch with me here.
Write Your Novel Now – Plotting Your Way to Success
“How’s that novel coming?” A tough question, but never fear! After attending this course, writers will have strengthened their concepts, explored various plot structure models, and outlined their novels scene-by-scene. Not only will attendees then be empowered to take to the page, they’ll never fret answering that dreaded question again!
New in 2020!
The Dolor Sit Ametters – On Prose, Poetry, and Voice in the Void
Our manuscripts are more than words. They breathe, live, and die by the rhythm and feel of their prose, which can be all too easy to forget when a writer is fretting shows and tells, the use of passive voice, or lingering far too long on the excision of adverbs.
In this session, we’ll set aside those concerns, focusing instead on refining the texture and cadence of our own manuscripts through analyses of—and practical exercises inspired by—published fiction of all genres. With help from several exercises, writers will become better prepared than ever to ensure the rhythm and cadence of their work is in line with their narrator’s voice and the action on the page.
Mapping Your Way to Story
Writing is always a challenge, especially when we’re unsure where to start or where we’ll head next. The good news? There’s a map to guide you and your characters to the story you seek!
In these sessions, writers will shed their fear of the blank page by developing their novels from scratch, journeying from concept creation to plot modeling and scene-by-scene outlining. After completing this course, attendees will be equipped with a map to confidently lead their characters from their ordinary worlds to the treasures they so long for.
“I don’t know what to do with my hands.” – Touching Up Scene for Characterization, Theme, and Backstory
As writers, sometimes it feels like we can do everything “right” and still be left with scenes that don’t quite click. Why is that, and what can we do to make those scenes pop while also enriching characterization, backstory, and theme?
In this seminar, attendees will explore how the use of the five senses—in a direct, intrusive way—can be used to flesh out a scene while enhancing character and theme.
Podcasts as Portals: Platform, Publicity, and Passive Learning
Platform, platform, platform. Writers hear this all the time, but gone are the days where a writing-related blog alone is enough to stand out from the crowd.
In this seminar, attendees will learn about the opportunities podcasts present as portals into expanding their platform and publicizing their work. We’ll also explore how listening to podcasts can be a great way to bring mini-writing-conferences into a writer’s daily life!
Writers interested in starting a podcast of their own, using them for promotion, or who are looking for a new avenue to continue their writing-related learning throughout the year are sure to leave this seminar with new strategies for all of this and more!
Keeping Your Scenes Afloat with the Five “Fun Floaties” of Scene Structure
Sensing some sink on the page? Is a lack of direction threatening to tear your characters asunder? Then batten down the hatches; you might have a case of scene sink!
In this seminar, writers will learn how to keep their scenes above water through the use of goal-oriented storytelling. After collecting all five of the fun floaties of scene structure, enrollees will be more ready than ever to send their manuscripts sailing to greatness!
Yes and— Improvisation and the Page
Whose line is it anyway?
As writers, it’s sometimes difficult to know who’s really writing our stories. Is it us as the author or our characters?
For writers who prefer to outline, uncooperative characters can jam a scene’s flow and chase us from the page, whereas those who prefer to write by the seat of their pants might feel as though there’s sometimes just not enough to work with in order to build momentum.
In this seminar, writers on either side of the pantser-outliner coin will learn how to improv their way through their scenes by using age-old axioms of improvisational acting, including the fabled “yes, and—”
Hit the Road, Jack: the Highs and Lows (and Dos and Don’ts) of Taking Your Book on Tour
Congratulations! Your book baby has been born, and now it’s time to show it off. You dream of long lines winding down a bookstore’s block, every patron eager to watch you put pen to page as you dedicate a copy to them. But how does one even go about setting up a bookstore event? How can we generate interest in markets beyond our local community? What happens when we travel across the state—or country—for an event, and no one shows up? In this seminar, we’ll explore the benefits and pitfalls of taking your show on the road. Complete with how-tos and coping mechanisms for events gone awry, this seminar is a “must attend” for anyone who’s dreamt of a book tour all their own.
Let’s (Not) Do Lunch: Pushing Our Settings Past Restaurants, Bars, and Cafes
We as writers already have enough on our plates; do we really have to worry about setting, too? We do, yes, lest we wind up overfeeding our readers on humdrum scenes that take place in the most typical of places—namely bars, restaurants, and cafés. Why do we so often fall back on invoking these locales? What might we stand to gain by swapping in more unique settings? And are there times when wining and dining our characters is, in fact, in the best interest of our story? In this seminar, we’ll examine how we can keep our readers from saying check, please! by properly catering to our manuscript’s settings.
Why Are We Yelling? Conflict and Tension as Fuel for Momentum
A lack of conflict or tension can be a common critique from beta readers, but what do they mean by this, exactly, and what are they really after? In this seminar, attendees will do a deep dive into conflict and tension: what they are, why they’re important, how they differ, and how we can use them to fuel our stories. Writers will leave this workshop with a greater understanding of goal-oriented storytelling and its role as the source of conflict and tension, including mystery, suspense, and dramatic irony.
Write on and write well.