Posted by: Kerry Gans | June 9, 2018

Philadelphia Writers’ Conference 2018: Day Two

One of the great things about the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference (and other conferences) is that writers can get a consequence-free taste of writing outside their comfort zone. This lets us see if maybe a new format or style opens up new levels of creativity in us—or new revenue streams. (Saturday’s full schedule is at the end of the article.)

Robert Blake Whitehill

One such workshop for me was Robert Blake Whitehill’s Adapting Your Work: Novel to Screenplay. I had sometimes toyed with the idea of making my novels into screenplays, but didn’t really know how to go about it. Robert gave good business details, as well as discussing the craft aspect of adapting a novel to the screen. Now if I could only clone myself, I could get to work on doing this!

Kelly Simmons

I then rolled into Kelly SimmonsSpunky, Funky or Hunky: The Importance of Creating Indelible Characters. Today, three brave souls offered up their characters for examination using Kelly’s technique. All I can say is that we have some insanely creative writers here, and I want to read every one of the novels discussed today.

I did not attend the popular Open Mic Lunch, but I am certain there were some outstanding readings, since there usually are.

Laurie Morrison

The afternoon session started off with the second day of Laurie Morrison’s Harnessing Your Inner Child. Today we looked at voice, that often-elusive quality that agents and editors seek. We examined different aspects of voice so we could create a memorable voice for our characters, and dissected voice in several books Laurie had brought in as examples. Voice is still complex and difficult to explain, but it’s comforting to know that it can be taught, learned, and improved. It’s something I have struggled with, and I came away with a better understanding of how to strengthen the voices of my characters.

Adrian Erik McCray

The second day of Adrian Erik McCray’s Plotting The Road Map from Chapter One Until The End quickly recapped some of the plot models we had discussed yesterday, then moved on to how to create characters that readers wanted to stick with through a whole book. He stressed that an antagonist does not necessarily have to be a “bad” guy, just a bigger and stronger oppositional force to the protagonist at the beginning of the book. This allows the protagonist to grow and change to overcome the antagonist. Knowing both the protagonist and antagonist intimately allows you to create plot obstacles and worlds that will test your protagonist to his or her fullest.

Ericka Blount-Danois

My day ended with another one-day outside-the-comfort-zone workshop: Ericka Blount-DanoisNarrative Nonfiction—Learning the Rules and Breaking Them. Ericka discussed the Pyramid structure of most non-fiction articles, and then demonstrated how breaking those rules sometimes improved the stories. Apparently the same “rule” applies to narrative non-fiction as applies to fiction: it’s acceptable to break the rules as long as you do it well.

Today’s theme: passion. Passion (desire) drives character motivation and therefore plot. Passion for your work allows you to successfully re-envision it in other media formats. Passion can lift “voice” from mediocre to brilliant, and marrying your writing to your passion can create compelling narrative non-fiction.

We writers here at the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference are already clearly driven by our passion for writing, as we seek to improve our craft, expand our knowledge, and meet like-minded writers who will help keep the passion kindled long after the conference is over.

Day Three is already upon us. I am eager to see what lessons await tomorrow.

Saturday’s Full Schedule

Two Day Master Classes

9:00 AM

Researching Biography: Finding Your Inner Nancy Drew– Ericka Blount-Danois
World Building in Fiction – Fran Wilde

Single Day Workshops

9:30 AM

Using Social Justice in Fiction – Solomon Jones
From Novel to Script: The Craft and the Business – Robert Blake Whitehill

Three Day Workshops

11 AM

Spunky, Funky or Hunky: The Importance of Creating Indelible Characters–Kelly Simmons
Where is the Center of the Earth and How Does It Become Your Poetry?– Amy Small-McKinney
Memoir – Lorene Cary
Marketing and Social Media; An Authors Worst Nightmare!– Denise Camacho

Open Mic Lunch

1:30 PM

Short and Sweet: How to write a great short story– Austin Camacho
Harness your Inner Child – Laurie Morrison
NonFiction Book – Lynn Rosen
On The Edge of Your Seat: Writing Suspense– Merry Jones

3:00 PM

Fiction/Novel II (Plot) – Adrian Erik McCray
Going into the Cave: Writing the Confessional Poem– Brian Fanelli
Play Writing: Pursuing Commissions – Ed Shockley
Workshop in a Box – Blair Thornburgh
THREE DAY MASTER CLASS – Get Published – Sheree Bykofsky

Single Day Workshops

4:15 PM

Branding – Suzanne Kuhn
Narrative NonFiction: Learning the Rules and Breaking Them – Ericka Blount-Danois
MASTER CLASS Poetry: Thrivin’ Ain’t Easy–TS Hawkins

6:00 PM – Banquet/Keynote Address (Mark Bowden)

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