We’re offering intimate breakaway sessions all weekend where writers can sit down with agents, authors, and editors to discuss everything from pitching to craft. Advanced registration is required for all sessions, with applicable prices listed below. 

Practice Your Pitch ($50)

These sessions are for writers who are working on honing their “pitch” but don’t feel ready to officially pitch an agent at a one-on-one meeting. Literary agents and editors will guide round table conversations with space for up to six writers to participate. Each writer will have a chance to “practice their pitch” in a supportive environment and receive real-time feedback from the agents and editors. Writers will also benefit from hearing the agents’ and editors’ feedback on their peers’ pitches and engage in a group discussion about their work. 

Please note these key differences between a one-on-one agent meeting and a Practice Your Pitch workshop: 

— The agents and editors will not read a sample of your work in advance. 
— These sessions are not the appropriate forum to ask whether an agent would like to consider your work for representation. The goal is to receive feedback on your work in progress in a supportive group environment.
— Depending on the workshop size, each writer will have approximately 5 minutes to present their project. The rest of the hour-long session will be dedicated to agent and editor feedback and group discussion. 

Advanced registration is required to participate in a session. Please sign up below.

Practice Your Pitch: Nonfiction, with Amanda Annis, Agent, Trident Media Group, and Reiko Davis, Agent, DeFiore & Company
Saturday, September 8, 10:00am to 11:10am
Location: 6th Floor Lounge

Practice Your Pitch: Commercial Fiction, with Ashley Collom, Agent, DeFiore and Company, and Celia Johnson, SLICE Co-founder and Fiction Editor 
Saturday, September 8, 11:30am to 12:40pm
Location: 6th Floor Lounge

Practice Your Pitch: Literary Fiction, with Meredith Kaffell, Agent, DeFiore and Company, and Soumeya Bendimerad Roberts, Agent, Hannigan Salky Getzler Agency
Saturday, September 8, 4:30pm to 5:40pm
Location: 6th Floor Lounge  

Craft Workshops ($50)

Active Storytelling: How to Focus Your Story, with Judy Sternlight, independent editor and co-founder of 5E
Sunday, September 9, 10:00am to 11:10am
Location: 6th Floor Lounge

To bring a story into focus, a writer has numerous creative options to explore, including points-of-view, character objectives, narrative structures, and endings that resonate. Through a mix of creative brainstorming, role-playing, and craft talk, we’ll explore these Eight Essential Narrative Elements: Story Anchors, POV, Character Objectives/Intentions, Central Storyline (and subplots), Stakes (tension), Sensory Work, Timespan, Endings. 

Novel Structure, or How to Find Your Book’s Inherent Shape, with Ted Thompson, author, The Land of Steady Habits
Sunday, September 9, 3:00pm to 4:10pm
Location: 6th Floor Lounge

Anyone who has taken a writing workshop while working on a novel knows that while they can be helpful on a single chapter, the format isn’t suited to address many of the larger issues at play in a novel. I’ve found, in reading early novel drafts, that those issues are almost always structural, and that many of them could be considerably improved if the writer were aware of some basic principles. This class is a chance to discuss those, addressing not only what gives a long narrative movement but also ways to locate and honor each project’s individual shape. No two novels can be built exactly the same, which is what makes them so difficult, but they do function with the same physics, so to speak. We’ll try to get to the bottom of what exactly those forces are, then talk about the ways to apply them to our current projects.

Round Table Conversations
(Free with panel enrollment, but advanced registration is required below.)

Break Out of Your Writing Slump: How We Clear the Cobwebs and Get Back to Being Happy About Our Work, with Lauren LeBlanc, nonfiction editor, Guernica; Iris Martin Cohen, author, The Little Clan; Lynn Steger Strong, author, Hold Still
Saturday, September 8, 3:00pm to 4:10pm
Location: 6th Floor Lounge

Every writer has dry spells. Sometimes they’re unexplainable; we just can’t clear our minds when we sit down to write. Other times they’re entirely practical—a stressful job, a new baby, or a big move upends life and the writing disappears. The good news: writing slumps do end. We find ways to clear the cobwebs. We create new routines. We shift our perspective so the words come out better. Join the conversation as three writers share how they got back to work after a difficult patch—what helped, what didn’t, and how they stay productive even in the toughest life seasons.

The Architects: Designing and Constructing a Novel’s Setting, with Paul Vidich, Author, The Good Assassin, and Yoojin Grace Wuertz, Author, Everything Belongs to Us
Saturday, September 8, 3:00pm to 4:10pm
Location: Room 6306

Setting may be the novelist’s first critical choice. Choice of setting carries with it the things that draw characters to a place and it establishes a novel’s atmosphere. Setting isn’t an illustrator’s presentation of a location, although that can be a part of setting, but it is the mood and ambiance of a place that evokes the story’s imaginary world. Setting provides the reader with the yearnings, fears, attractions, and possibilities that are available to characters who find themselves at a unique moment in a particular place. Why are so many spy novels set in Berlin in 1963? Why not Chicago or Liverpool? Why are so many novels set in World War II?

Staying on Track: How to Connect with Peers Who Will Help You Revise & Finish Your Manuscript, with Brendan Kiely, author, Tradition; Hasanthika Sirisena, author, The Other One; Jessica Ciencin Henriquez, author, If You Loved Me, You Would Know  
Sunday, September 9, 11:30am to 12:40pm
Location: 6th Floor Lounge

Writing is a solitary act, but it’s impossible to thrive as a writer if we go at it alone. We need trusted readers to point out the blind spots in our work. We need accountability partners to keep us going. We need community to remind us we’re not alone. But it’s not always easy to find the people we need. Join this conversation to hear how three authors connect with peers, and meet fellow writers who are looking for others to help, and who can help them, finish their work.

Let’s Talk: Tips & Techniques for Writing Great Dialogue, with Kanishk Tharoor, Author, Swimmer Among the Stars, and Malcolm Hansen, Author, They Come in All Colors
Sunday, September 9, 4:30pm to 5:40pm
Location: 6th Floor Lounge

Crafting compelling dialogue is one of writing’s biggest challenges. George Saunders says, “The biggest pitfall is the assumption that dialogue in fiction should mimic dialogue in real life. So there’s lots of faithful rendering that should get left out.” But if our dialogue shouldn’t mimic real life, how can we make it believable? Join the discussion as two authors share their approach to crafting dialogue—learn what strategies they use, if any, to convey authentic conversations and how they manage to filter out the real life talk that does not translate to the page.