Schedule: 2020 Workshop


1. Crafting Magical Worlds — How to Compose Great Science Fiction and Fantasy, taught by E.J. Wenstrom. Where does magic come from? How is it powered? What are its limits? From Middle-Earth to Bon Temps to Hogwarts, every magical world has its own answers to these questions. Magical words are complex, each with their own history and rules. On this panel of five imaginative fantasy authors from the region, fans will get a behind-the-scenes look as the pros share the creative processes that drive the development of–and inspire–these unique fantasy worlds across a range of fantasy subgenres, from epic to urban to horror.

more classes coming

BLOCK TWO: 10:45 – 11:50

1. Understanding Plot and Structure, taught by Jennifer Handford. How do you manage 300 pages of text? If the goal of the novel is to turn the pages — to keep the forward motion pushing forward — how then does a writer weave in exposition, dialogue, and contemplation? How much is too much? In this session, you will learn how to “color code” pages of text — to illustrate what percentage of a page of text is dedicated to exposition, dialogue, action, etc. In other words, how much can be tolerated by the reader before he loses interest in the forward motion? This is important for writers who tend to be literary, and value the contemplation and exposition.

more classes coming

LUNCH ON YOUR OWN: 11:50 – 1:15

Lunch is on your own during these 85 minutes. There are lots of options, including onsite restaurants, and nearby places to eat.

BLOCK THREE: 1:15 – 2:30

1:30 – 2:45: “Writers Got Talent”—a Page 1 Critique Fest (Salon J-K), 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.)


BLOCK FOUR: 2:45 – 3:45

1. The 7 Touches of Marketing for Authors, taught by E.J. Wenstrom. In this session, a seasoned communications pro will explain a fundamental principle of marketing and sales, and explain how authors an apply it to their own efforts to build a readership and sell books, in the context of a modern, digital world.

2. The Magic of Voice in Young Adult and Middle Grade Novels, taught by Sarah Davies. In this session, hear from a literary agent on tips for finding and developing a unique sound inside your writing. Agents and editors always say they are looking for “voice.” But what does that mean for writers and how do you achieve this elusive goal? With inspiring ideas, practical suggestions and examples, Sarah will draw on her several decades in the books business to demonstrate how you can develop your voice skills, and discover yourself, in your writing.

more classes coming

BLOCK FIVE: 4:00 – 5:00

1. How to Create Interesting Characters, taught by Jennifer Handford. The success of character creation is authenticity, and writers do this by making them imperfect. Characters should not be archetypes in the sense of good or bad, moral or immoral. All characters have one toe on the side of right and the other on the side of maybe wrong. They’re flawed; they make mistakes, they’re indecisive, they’re unsure. In this session, learn all about creating complex, interesting characters, and giving them obstacles to get what they want.

more classes coming


At 5 p.m., the day is done. Speakers will make themselves available by the workshop’s bookstore station for a short while to sign any books for attendees.

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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 5 classes sent to you to watch over and over again, we will also send you 12 more FREE BWW classes on the side:

  1. “An Overview of Your Publishing Options Today”—a class on understanding the difference between self-publishing and traditional publishing, by Chuck Sambuchino
  2. “10 Query Letter Tips”—a class to help your submission chances, by Chuck Sambuchino
  3. “15 Tips on How to Write Like the Pros”—a class on craft and voice, by Brian Klems
  4. “Working with a Literary Agent”—a class on having a great relationship, by agent Kortney Price
  5. “The Ins and Outs of Perfecting Voice in Your Writing,” taught by author Christina Kaye.
  6. “Ask an Agent Anything Panel (Michigan Writing Workshop)”—hear writers ask questions and agents give blunt feedback
  7. “How to Write a Nonfiction Book Proposal” by Brian Klems—a class specifically designed for writers of nonfiction who want to craft an awesome proposal
  8. “You Have an Agent Offer or Book Contract — Now What?”—a class explaining what happens after you sign with a rep, by agent Carlie Webber
  9. “Pitch, Please”—a class on pitching to agents successfully, by Ben Miller-Callihan and Courtney Miller-Callihan
  10. “Making Social Media Work For You”—a class on promoting yourself and your book via social media, by agent Kenzi Nevins
  11. “Talking Elevator Pitches, Twitter Pitches, and Query Letters”—a class on understanding the various ways to pitch your book to agents, by agent Heather Cashman
  12. “Elevating Your Work: How to Create Great Children’s Picture Books”—a class on writing picture books for kids, by author Gabrielle Pendergrast