Full Day Intensive: Structure as Genesis


This session requires pre-conference application and preparatory work.

Friday, Sept 20th 8:45 am - 5 pm



A full-day intensive for advanced novelists.

Structure is the backbone of Story—it undergirds the plot, fleshes out characters and worlds, and illuminates theme. Understanding how story structure works allows readers to identify strengths and weaknesses in their own work and that of others. But an in-depth understanding of structure also provides a great foundation from which to generate new work and a wonderful place for experienced writers to return to when facing a roadblock.

This workshop is made up of three parts: teaching, discussion, and generating. Participants will read three uniquely-structured novels in preparation. 

Teaching + Discussion

As an attendee, you will be assigned a partner and a novel to deconstruct. Over the summer, you and your partner will meet (online or in person) to prepare a presentation that dissects the structure of your assigned novel. Your presentation should include:

  • a visual representation of your novel’s structure. This could be a graph, chart, beat sheet, or whatever suits your preference.
  • a creative name for the structure of your assigned novel.
  • an explanation of how you believe the structure facilitates the plot, implements the theme, and fleshes out the characters.

Over the summer you will also meet with Kelly via Zoom to discuss your presentation and ask questions. On the day of the Intensive, you and your partner will have thirty minutes to present your novel and lead a discussion, supported by Kelly and the other advanced writers in the class.

There are no right/wrong answers or methods for creating this presentation. Your interpretation is subjective to your experience of the book. Learning to facilitate this discussion is the vehicle by which we will gain the skills to recognize structure on a deeper level and be able to apply it across genres.

The partner presentations will be followed by instructional time led by Kelly for each novel.


After dissecting each structure, attendees will have time to brainstorm new ideas, outline them based on a new understanding of story structure, and then discuss the experience with the group.

Goals for the Intensive

  1. Develop an in-depth understanding of story structure—how it serves character, plot, and theme
  2. Refine workshop-teaching skills
  3. Generate a minimum of three outlines for new works
  4. Acquire a lifelong skill of using structure to identify and circumvent story roadblocks and generate new ideas for books to come.

*UPDATED* Reading List

The Last Mapmaker by Christina Soontornvat (MG)

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds (YA)

Daughters of the Lamp by Nedda Lewers (MG)


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Kelly Dyksterhouse


This session is limited to 6 participants. Up to twelve applications will be considered and participants will be selected by faculty. To apply, participants must:

  • Register for the Carolinas Fall Conference and select the checkbox for APPLY TO ATTEND: Structure as Genesis.
  • Complete the application and submit the first 5 pages of your manuscript with one-page single-spaced synopsis. (After registering, you will find a link to the application under the MY EVENTS tab of your Member Home. Click the green MEETING INFO button.)
  • Agree to the participation policies. 


May 1st: Conference registration opens.

June 5th: Application deadline 

June 24th: Faculty selections announced. Applicants will be billed for payment to participate. Partner assignments. You will have three months to read the three assigned mentor texts and work with your partner to prepare a presentation for your assigned novel. 

Sept 20th: Intensive day. The class will convene on Friday of the Fall Conference, beginning at 8:45 am and meeting in three sessions, 8:45 am - 11 am, 12:30 pm - 2:30 pm, 3 pm - 5 pm.

Please Note

Participants will be in class during Friday afternoon critiques/reviews. If you wish to add on a critique or review for the conference, you will need to choose a Zoom meeting being offered by designated faculty the week before the conference. 


Members $250

Non-Members $280

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