SAT OCT 5 Sessions

  • Select one session from each time block at registration (total 4 sessions).
  • Keynote is included with Oct 4, 5 & 6 registrations.
  • Sessions are not recorded.
  • Program subject to change.
  • Download > Sat Oct 5 schedule <

7:30 - 8:30am check-in

8:30AM Orientation | Writing Contest Awards


9:15am Sat Morning Sessions 

Novel Writing Basics with John DeDakis - An overview of the novel-writing process from 30,000 foot level that demystifies and deconstructs how it's done--from the mere germ of an idea all the way through the creative process, with an eye on getting a finished book into the hands of potential fans. We'll discuss how to tap into your subconscious and life experiences to transform them into a book-length project, populated with interesting characters, a twistyturny plot, snappy dialogue, and an interesting setting. We'll also touch on strategies for finding an agent, marketing the finished product, and facing your writing and marketing fears.

The First Page(s): Hooks, Heart, and Setups with Christine Fairchild - To capture readers on page one you need high-concept Hooks, intriguing Plots, and a Protagonist with Heart. We’ll examine how best to set the Tone, Pace, Theme, and Style and how to choose which Point of View is most effective. Attendees will learn critical Character Development seeds to plant early; power Hooks that engage readers, and master techniques for World-building.

Writing Goals in Three Key Steps with Mary Boone - You have a project in mind but it doesn’t seem to be moving forward. Are you challenged by procrastination? Lack of focus? Defeatist self-talk? In this workshop, you’ll learn tips and tricks for setting specific goals and creating accountability. Attendees will learn how clear, specific, realistic goals can enhance focus and commitment; how to break large writing goals into smaller, manageable tasks as a sure route toward achievement;
develop strategies for overcoming obstacles.

Levels of Editing: From the Big Picture to Catching Typos with Jenny Bartoy - What does an editor do exactly? What is developmental editing? Should you hire a beta reader? Is line editing the same as copy editing? What the heck is a style guide? The levels of editing will be explained, including the differences in editorial guidance between self-publishing and traditional publishing. Attendees will learn how to determine what type of editing their writing project might
require or benefit from, how to differentiate the editorial path in self-publishing vs traditional publishing, and how to find a good-fit editor and avoid pitfalls and scams.

10:45am Sat Morning Sessions

How to Write a Gripping Scene with Kim PurcellIn this workshop, writers will learn how to build tension in their scenes. We’ll start by examining the characters: their fears, flaws, failures, past trauma, misbeliefs, desires, love, and heartbreak, to find ways to make them suffer so that the reader gets nervous for them. Then, we’ll look at tension techniques, such as hooks, mysterious details, sounds, lighting, foreshadowing, danger in the setting, scene questions, tough decision-making, desire lines, stakes, subtext in dialogue, and cliffhangers.

Middles: Why You Gotta Be So Difficult? with Elena Hartwell - Writing a beginning can be exciting. Writing an end can be a challenge. Faced with a vast, blank middle, writers can balk. Why are middles so hard? The middle does almost all the heavy
lifting! This workshop investigates common problems, such as maintaining pace and story arc.

The Ethical Use of AI: An Author’s Perspective with Troy LambertCan AI be used ethically? What is an author to do with these new tools? What are some things authors should not do? We’ll take a look at the ethical use of AI and LLMs: is it possible? If so, what does that look like?

Using Five Senses in Personal Essay and Memoir with William KenowerMemoirists can sometimes forget about the need for physical description in their stories. But focusing on what a scene looks and smells and sounds like not only brings it more fully to life, but often stimulates buried memories in the author. In this class we’ll look at how to focus on descriptive language in personal narrative to unlock a story’s meaning and power.

12:00pm Lunch Break


1:30pm Keynote: Author Jamie Harrison

Edmonds Theater, 415 Main St. (just west of the fountain roundabout, downtown).

2:45pm Sat Sessions

One Tool to Rule Them All with Eric WitcheyAward-winning writer Eric Witchey will demonstrate one control pattern that underlies all other elements in stories. After a short summary of reader physiology, the session will demonstrate how to manage plot and character to control a story. Participants will leave with an understanding of the control tool, experience using it, and a substantive handout for later review.

Applying the Hero's Journey to Your Novel with Nicole Maggi - George Lucas drew upon Joseph Campbell’s classic Hero’s Journey to create our beloved Star Wars, so why shouldn’t you? In this session, Nicole Maggi will use the original popcorn movie to lay out the steps of the Hero’s Journey so that you’ll be able to apply it to any story idea you have. The session will cover the 12 steps of the Hero’s Journey and how to apply the steps to your story idea to create a complete arc for your story idea.

Building Your Self Publishing Team with Melissa Vail Coffman - Attendees will gain valuable information on the importance of creating a team of individuals to edit, layout the interior and design a compelling cover that will enhance the marketability of their book. Attendees will discover the importance of finding not just any editor but a “book” editor who is well versed in The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) and what that is; what to look for in book layout and cover designers and differences of having your own designer(s) vs using Sat Sept 28 (ONLINE) resources like Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP); and about Print on Demand (POD) vs Traditional printing, as well as distribution, and the benefits and downfalls of both.

Flash Fiction Primer with Lauren Davis - Can you get to the Bang! in your story in under 1,000 words? How about 500? What about one sentence? Lauren Davis will outline the craft elements of flash fiction, and then provide a handful of writing prompts to get your pen moving. Attendees will learn how to identify the elements of the flash fiction genre; create first drafts of original flash fiction stories; apply writing tips to first drafts of original flash fiction stories. 

4:15pm Sat Sessions

Character & Setting: A Conversation with Authors Jamie Harrison & Dane Bahr -  Join these two authors in a conversation about the origin and development of two essential elements in the creation of a compelling fictional world (a sense of place). Both writers have mastered these elements but do so each in their own unique way.  Attendees will gain insight into how they can bring their own experiences, preferences, and motivations to bare on the process of crafting a believable characters and a sense of place. Moderated by WOTS Steering Committee Chair Harry Kirchner.

Narrative Structure: Off-Kiltering and Crossing Lines with Anne Elliott - This session will explore the possibility that narrative movement originates in the shifting balance and Friction of opposing forces. What is the border between two opposites? When borders are breached, we cannot move backwards—the essence of the causal plot. Key points reviewed are: A method for creating narrative shape without resorting to 3-act or other Western story designs; a way to find the narrative shape organically in the story and its characters/images, by looking at what is already on the page; and examples of strong models to read for inspiration, including craft texts.

The Importance of Essential Questions For Evoking Emotional Resonance With Your Readers with Jennifer Leigh Selig - Essential questions are universal, archetypal, which invite a reader to journey with the author toward satisfying and stimulating answers. In this presentation designed for writers of any skill level, Jennifer will define essential questions and argue for their crucial role in creating emotional resonance with readers. Attendees will learn that essential question/s allows them to craft compelling narratives that invite readers on a quest, that knowing your essential question/s can help you keep your manuscript focused, avoiding “content creep”, and keeping a list of essential questions at hand opens up the possibility of deepening their writing and broadening its appeal.

The Key to Writing a Captivating Historical Novel with Megan Chance - The best historical fiction novels do not use history as window dressing, but as a foundation that dictates the plot, the conflict, and the characters. In this session, award-winning historical author Megan Chance explains how to use your research to build a captivating story that is grounded in reality and believability.

5:30PM Book Signing Reception


A NOTE ABOUT THIS YEAR'S PROGRAM: The WOTS conference program offers many topics on fiction and nonfiction, as well as information regarding editing, publishing and marketing.  This year, we are not offering specific poetry sessions as the popular biennial Skagit River Poetry Festival in nearby La Conner will be held Oct 3 – 5.