Schedule: 2023 Workshop


Friday, March 3, 2023

9:30 – 10:30: First Impressions: How to Make Your Opening Pages Excellent, taught by Emily Williamson. The most common problem that agents see in their submissions is a weak opening chapter that fails to “activate” the story and hook the reader. Learn what an agent is looking for in the first pages of your novel and what elements of story must be present to make your submission stand out, including tips on how to create tension, atmosphere, and immediacy across all types of genres. We’ll also discuss some common mistakes that writers make when crafting a story’s beginning and how to avoid them. The first chapter of your novel isn’t everything, but it can amount to nothing if you can’t convince an agent to keep reading.

10:45 – 11:45: Voice is Character, taught by Keir Alekseii. It’s fair to say that voice is hard to explain, leading to the common refrain “if you know, you know,” whenever someone asks about it. Yet, the skills behind voice can be identified and developed just like any other part of a writer’s craft. In this presentation, Keir describes their take on voice through discussion of the narrator: a distinct character with its own agenda, regardless of tense, perspective or limitations. 

11:45 – 1:15: Break

1:15 – 2:30: Healthy Relationships with Writing, taught by Trai Cartwright. Writing is more than sending messages in a bottle out into the world; it’s a very internal process filled with rumination, meditation, and magic. It’s also entangled with doubt, fear, guilt, and even self-flagellation. Our relationship with writing may be messy, but we do have the power to improve it. Join us for a look at the nature of those messy relationships, plus insight and ideas for making writing the place where you connect with the best of your humanity.

2:45 – 3:45: Putting Your Best Foot Forward: How To Catch an Agent’s Attention With Your Query and Pitch, taught by Mary C. Moore. The process of submitting your work is nicknamed the query trenches for a reason. It can be an anxiety-provoking long slog, and writers are often worried they will make a mistake that will cause a literary agent to summarily reject them. In this course we will go over the submission process from start to finish to demystify it and realign your focus on the long term goals beyond querying. Learn how to put your best foot forward to help you query with more confidence. 

4:00 – 5:00: Building Your Author Brand, taught by Anjanette Barr. This class will cover how to distill the essence of who you are as a person and as a writer, then communicate that effectively to your target audience to boost your career organically. The more you can brand yourself online and through social media, the more followers and connections you slowly build, and that translates to book sales and publishing power.

Saturday, March 4, 2023

9:30 – 10:30: Unpacking the Query Letter, taught by Eric Smith. Publishing is a subjective industry — and guess what? Turns out the query letter is a bit subjective too. Where should the pitch start? Do you need comparable titles listed? Should you have a bio at the end? How do you pitch yourself as a nonfiction author? You’ll find a lot of different answers for each of these questions, and during our query letter chat, we’ll use real-world query letter examples to unpack what works, what doesn’t, and why you should always read submission guidelines.

10:45 – 11:45: Authors & Agents: Inside this Important Partnership, taught by literary agent Rachelle Gardner. Do all writers need agents? This workshop begins by discussing who needs an agent and why. You’ll learn how to decide whether you need an agent, how to research literary agents, and how to determine the right agent for you. We’ll discuss what to expect from an agent and what not to expect. Finally, we’ll talk about how to do your part in building and maintaining a successful long-term relationship with an agent. This workshop will dispel the mystique surrounding agents (no – we are not all sharks!) and help you make the best decision for your writing career.

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 CWW attendees. Bring your questions and get them answered in this popular session.

4:00 – 5:00: Legal Issues Writers Should Consider, taught by Jennifer Chen Tran. Understand the basic intellectual property laws which affect writers and creatives. We will explore copyright, trademark, legal defenses like fair use, how to obtain permissions, and also discuss the current legal landscape for writers and creatives. Join us for a Q&A at the end of the session.

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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 March 3-4, 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. “Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing,” taught by literary agent Leonicka Valcius at the 2022 Philadelphia Writing Workshop.
  2. “Voice — and How to Hone Yours,” taught by literary agent Kaitlyn Katsoupis at the 2022 San Diego Writing Workshop.
  3. “Nail Your Opening — How to Fix First Chapter Mistakes,” taught by literary agent Lesley Sabga at the 2022 Writing Conference of Los Angeles.
  4. “Improve Your Fiction – How to Master Self-Editing and Revision,” taught by literary agent Elizabeth Kracht at the 2022 Philadelphia Writing Workshop.
  5. “From Castles to Condominiums: Building Immersive Worlds in Any Kind of Fiction,” taught by literary agent Laurel Symonds at the 2022 Florida Writing Workshop.
  6. “Writers Got Talent”—a Page 1 Critique Fest,” with literary agents at the 2022 Minnesota Writing Workshop. (If you enjoy this amazing agent panel, we sell a bundle of these First Pages agent panel recordings here.)
  7. “Ask an Agent Anything: Open Agent Q&A Panel,” with literary agents at the 2022 Writing Workshop of Chicago.
  8. “Extreme Research For Your Story (If You Dare!),” taught by literary agent Sera Rivers at the 2022 Writing Conference of Los Angeles.
  9. “Social Media Promotion Secrets for Authors,” taught by author Erik Deckers at the 2022 Writing Workshop of Chicago.
  10. “The Power in Choosing Your Dream of Writing,” taught by author Brittany Thurman at the 2022 Writing Conference of Los Angeles.