Schedule: Fall 2023 Online Workshop

ONLINE: Writing Day Workshops plans both in-person and virtual/online conferences. The Fall 2023 SDWW is an Online Conference, on November 10-11, 2023. Online events are easy and awesome, and the virtual events we’ve done thus far have received wonderful feedback. You do not have to be tech-savvy to do this, and understand we are keeping all aspects of a traditional in-person event, including one-on-one agent & editor pitching, which will now be done by Zoom or phone. Learn all details about what it means to have a writers conference online.)

The schedule here is on Pacific time.



Friday, November 10, 2023

9:30 – 10:30: Craft Amazing First Pages That Grab Readers (and Agents), taught by Kelly Peterson. Agents judge a book on its first chapter, first page, first paragraph, and yes even the first sentence. It’s incredibly important to start your book off right and immediately grab the agent (and reader) with intrigue and conflict. So what types of openings should you avoid? How do you create conflict and intrigue that pulls the reader in, and doesn’t seem forced? This class will explain what an agent needs to see on your opening pages to keep reading. 

10:45 – 11:45:  What Editing Really Is, taught by Lindsay Flanagan. In order to make an informed decision about what types of editing your manuscript needs before you query it or self-publish it, it’s important that you understand what editing is, and what editing isn’t. This class will explain some different types of editing so you can better understand how an editor can add value to your writing in different ways.

11:45 – 1:15: Break

1:15 – 2:30: How to Prepare Your Query Package, taught by Leah Pierre. This workshop is a thorough crash course in dealing with literary agents. After quickly going over what an agent is and what they do for writers, we will discuss resources for finding agents, how to ID the best agents for you, query letter writing, as well as the most important things to do and not to do when dealing with representatives.

2:45 – 3:45: Rise and Shine in the Slush Pile: Questions to Ask Yourself Before Submitting Your Manuscript, taught by Helga Schier. This session briefly explains what goes on behind the scenes of a publishing house and discusses how an awareness of submissions procedures can help you write a better manuscript. Fundamentals of the submissions process such as genre or page count or theme or even punctuation are not arbitrary; they are among the elements steering an acquisition editor’s decision – for good reasons we will explore. We will touch upon developing a query letter and sample chapters, and discuss a series of questions that will help you ensure that your manuscript develops naturally, your plot is paced well, your characters are relatable, and – most importantly – your work is creative and unique.

4:00 – 5:00: The Texture of Urgency: How to Deeply Engage Your Readers from the First Page to the Last, taught by Helga Schier. Urgency is not unique to thrillers and not always a function of a fast pace. Urgency drives all fiction, and a slow-moving passage can have you at the edge of your seat. Urgency may sit deep inside the subtext of a scene, manifest in a character’s motivation, or show in the ambiance of a setting. In fact, urgency is the very fabric of your novel. It is what engages readers in your plot and makes them care about your characters’ plight. So, how do you create that sense of urgency? This session will talk about the underlying storytelling strategies such as cliffhangers, smart cuts, masking and unmasking information, about creating ambiance and the art of the crawl, about tracing clues, pacing, and racing to the end.

* * * *

Saturday, November 11, 2023

9:30 – 10:30: The Paths to Publishing, taught by Jennifer Bardsley. Find a way to get your book published, one way or another. But which path is right for you — traditional, indie, or hybrid? Now more than ever, writers have publishing path options, though each one possesses its own distinct pros and cons. This class will go over industry terminology, the best practices for querying agents, the ins and outs of Kindle Direct Publishing, and elements that writers should beware.

10:45 – 11:45: Social Media for Authors, taught by Georgia McBride. New to social media? Intimidated by all the choices? Learn how to optimize your presence on social media including TikTok/Booktok, Instagram, Instagram, Twitter/X, and Facebook. Learn about little known author promotional tools such as BookBub Author pages, Amazon Author Central, and more!

11:45 – 1:15: Break

1:15 – 2:30: “Writers Got Talent”—a Page 1 Critique Fest, with participating literary agents and editors. In the vein of “American Idol” or “America’s Got Talent,” this is a chance to get your first page read (anonymously — no bylines given) with attending agents commenting on what was liked or not liked about the submission. Get expert feedback on your incredibly important first page, and know if your writing has what it needs to keep readers’ attention. (All attendees are welcome to bring pages to the event for this session, and we will choose pages at random for the workshop for as long as time lasts. All submissions should be novels or memoir—no prescriptive nonfiction or picture books, please. Do not send your pages in advance. You will bring printed copies with you, and instructions will be sent out approximately one week before the event.)

2:45 – 3:45: Open Agent Q&A Panel. Several attending literary agents will open themselves up to open Q&A from Fall 2023 SDWW attendees. Bring your questions and get them answered in this popular session.

4:00 – 5:00: How to Write Great Dialogue, taught by Michelle McGill-Vargas. The purpose of this session is to show writers how great dialogue enhances a story. Participants will examine the importance and function of good dialogue, discuss examples, and suggestion on how to create effective character speech. Learn how to punch up your prose and make your story more enticing to readers and agents.

* * * * * * *


Classes are recorded (and this is amazing news)! With an in-person conference, attendees would miss snippets of classes because they leave the classroom to pitch, or make a phone call, or anything else. But the 10 classes happening November 10-11, 2023 are all recorded, which means we will send the days’ recording following the event. You can watch classes as many times as you want during the next six months. This is an exciting new element that we couldn’t include before. Also, we will be sending out all handouts for all classes to attendees in advance.

Lastly, having this new technology allows us WDW faculty members to pre-record sessions, too—meaning we will actually send attendees many extra FREE classes as part of their attendance. In addition to getting the weekend’s 10 classes sent to you to watch over and over again, we will also send you at least 10 more FREE classes on the side:

  1. Changes in the Publishing Industry — What Writers Need to Know to Succeed, taught by literary agent Rachel Beck at the 2023 Florida Writing Workshop.
  2. Improve Your Craft — How to Show, Not Tell, taught by author Shirin Leos at the 2022 San Diego Writing Workshop.
  3. Revise Like the Pros — How to Use Beta Readers in Your Life and Make Your Writing Better, taught by author Cherie Postill at the 2022 Minnesota Writing Workshop.
  4. So, What Exactly Does a Literary Agent Do?, taught by literary agent Leticia Gomez at the 2022 Writing Workshop of Chicago.
  5. An Agent’s Tips on Writing Thriller & Mystery, taught by literary agent Jill Marr at the 2022 San Diego Writing Workshop.
  6. Keys to Writing Great Young Adult & Middle Grade Fiction, taught by author and editor Madeline Smoot.
  7. How to Write a Stunning Nonfiction Book Proposal taught by literary agent Mary Demuth at the 2022 Writing Workshop of Chicago.
  8. “Writers Got Talent”—a Page 1 Critique Fest, with literary agents at the Florida Writing Workshop. (If you enjoy this amazing agent panel, we sell a bundle of these First Pages agent panel recordings here.)
  9. Ask an Agent Anything: Open Agent Q&A Panel, with literary agents at the 2022 Minnesota Writing Workshop.
  10. Copyright FAQs and Other Legal Topics, taught by literary agent Dana Newman at the 2022 Kansas City Writing Workshop.