The Creative Writing Track is designed for novelists as well as writers of picture books, early readers, and chapter books. We will focus on several elements of craft and editing, and use mentor texts to help us examine our own writing with a critical eye. Attendees may add on a Friday morning intensive from a different track, but will not be able to cross tracks through the rest of the retreat. Attendees may also add on a Career Consultation, Manuscript Critique or a Portfolio Review.
Please see Itinerary for full retreat schedule.
9:30 am – 11:30 am Intensive for Novelists with Ann Rose I’ve completed my manuscript, now what? We’ll examine synopsis, query letter, pitch, The Call
Prerequisite: For novelists with a completed manuscript ready to find an agent. Please bring a draft of your synopsis and query letter. Relevant to GN/MG/YA. Class size: 10 participants This intensive is an optional add-on to your retreat ticket
9 am – 10:30 am Session 1 with Ann Rose Editing Part 1 – Character development
1 pm – 2:30 pm Session 2 with Karla Valenti Storydough Starter – building a story is not unlike making a sourdough bread. There is a core foundation, a starter, that gives the bread (and your story) its structure. However, the resulting possibilities for bread (and story) can be limitless. This session will provide a deep dive into the key building blocks that make up a compelling story (for any age), and the different ways in which those building blocks can be executed. We will analyze various picture books (though the concepts apply to any genre) to see how they make use of story structure to tell an irresistible story, and ways in which you can use a storydough starter to enhance your own storytelling.
Prerequisite: Mentor texts to read in advance (See below.)
2:30 pm – 4 pm Lab Hours: Attendees may gather to work on works-in-progress or other goals, or choose to explore onsite activities. Lab Hours will be attended by Ann Rose and Kelly Dyksterhouse.
4 pm – 5:30 pm Session 3 with Alison Weiss and Ann Rose Why This Book Works from both perspectives: editor and agent
Prerequisite: Read The Curious League of Detectives and Thieves Book 1 Egypt’s Fire by Tom Phillips
9 am – 9:45 am Session 4 with Ann Rose Editing Part 2 – comparing an early draft to a revised draft for a scene, processing and understanding feedback (decode “I wasn’t able to connect to your character” and other feedback)
10 am – 10:45 am Session 5 with Karla Valenti What is Your Story? – Building up from our story starter, this session will focus on different ways that you can make your story unique and original. We will briefly touch upon topics such as themes, voice, showing vs telling, drawing from mythology or cultural lore, and even ways to tweak the starter structure for more impact.
During Session 2 we will be doing a deep-dive into story structure, focusing on plot-based stories and character-driven stories. To help explain these concepts, I will reference the list of books below. Note - even though these are all picture books, the concepts apply equally to novels. PBs are just easier to work with in a limited time frame.
THEY ALL SAW A CAT (Brendan Wenzel)
THE LONGEST LETSGOBOY (Derick Wilder, Catia Chen)
THE SUN IS LATE AND SO IS THE FARMER (Philip and Erin Stead)
FRANKENSLIME (Joy Keller, Ashley Belote)
RONAN THE LIBRARIAN (Tara Luebbe and Becky Cattie, Victoria Madeira)
SPELLBOUND (Jess Townes, Jennifer Harney)
AFTER THE FALL (Dan Santat)
STUCK (Oliver Jeffers)
As you read through these texts, please consider some of the following questions (which we will explore further in the workshop):
Who is the story about?
Who changes and how?
What is the catalyst for this change?
How does the story ending relate to the beginning?
Feel free to bring additional texts for us to discuss at the session if time permits.
Please read THE CURIOUS LEAGUE OF DETECTIVES AND THIEVES Book 1: EGYPT'S FIRE by Tom Phillips