Schedule: 2020 Workshop

(IMPORTANT MARCH 2020 UPDATE: The 2020 MWW is now an Online Conference to keep everyone safe. There is much more to say about this, but immediately you should understand 1) This will be easy and awesome, 2) You do not have to be tech-savvy to do this, and 3) We are keeping all aspects of the event, including one-on-one agent & editor pitching, which will now be done by Skype or phone. Learn all details about the new April 25 MWW Online Conference here and what everything means.)

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8:30 – 9:30: Check-in and registration at the event location. Check in and get comfortable.

There will be 3 classes/workshops going at all times during the day. Agent pitches and critique consultations overlap with the sessions below. The schedule of presentation topics below is subject to change and updates:

BLOCK ONE: 9:30 – 10:30

1. The Do’s, Don’ts, and Everything In Between, of Query Letters, taught by Bibi Lewis. Query letters are often times the first chance an agent will see your writing. How can you make the moment count? In this workshop, literary agent Bibi Lewis will share her experience reading many query letters and teach participants how to make their query letter stand out in the right way and avoid standing out in the wrong! We will go through the most important part of submissions (hint: it is following guidelines) and how a good hook can sell a project. We can draft a query letter as a group or keep it open ended for questions. Whichever we do, the writers will come out feeling a lot more comfortable with the query letter!

2. Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing: How to Build Worlds that Readers (and Publishers) Will Love, taught by Sarah Zettel. The heart of science fiction is world building. In this workshop we’ll talk about the layers and the problems of building successful worlds for your story, everything from how to calculate the orbit of your planet, to how to build a city, to how to build a working society for that city, and even how to give your characters an internal world that matches the richness of your carefully-crafted external world and how all that fits into a well-turned plot.  

3. The Key to Writing Great Characters: Emotional Filters, taught by Steven Piziks. A common reason for editors to reject a book is they don’t feel anything for the main character. Getting a reader to empathize with the protagonist is often a trick. This workshop explores the role of emotions and emotional filters in book and how to use emotion to make characters likeable and interesting.

BLOCK TWO: 10:45 – 11:50

1. From A to Z: Strategies for Plotting & Pacing Tightly, taught by Weronika Janczuk. In this class, a literary agent will begin with a detailed introduction to the three-act screenwriting structure that lends itself to theoretical preparation for novel-writing and outlining, and then identify different tools for plot consideration, outlining, as well as writing that permit novelists to plot and pace their work tightly. More in-depth plotting theory introduces a series of key moments and movements in the evolution of the plot trajectory, and this will class will provide an introduction to them. The goal will be to provide some theory, an introduction to key tools, and an analysis of case studies from award-winning or bestselling novels.

2. So You’ve Finished Writing and Revising Your YA/MG Novel. Now What? By Chelsea Bobulski. An in-depth look at how to get your book published, from joining the writing community and crafting a head-turning query letter, to finding the right agent and surviving the submission process. While this class will focus on the route to traditional publication, we will also discuss the pros and cons of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing, and provide resources for those who want to know more about self-publishing, as well as online and print resources to help give your book its best fighting chance in the world of traditional publishing.

3. Mystery vs. Suspense: Understanding the Differences and Using Those Tools to Succeed, taught by Sarah Zettel. Mystery is “whodunit?” Suspense is “whentheygonnadoit?” Okay, that’s done. Now. What does that mean and how do we get it on the page? We will be talking about the similarities and the differences of two of the most popular forms of crime fiction, and how you can make them work for you.

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. “Writers Got Talent”—a Page 1 Critique Fest (Regency Ballroom), 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. How to Sell a Nonfiction Book, taught by Brian Klems. This session is completely devoted to nonfiction that is not memoir. So if you are trying to create an awesome nonfiction book proposal, this presentation is for you.

3. Picture Books: From Opening Line to Published Manuscript, taught by Reem Faruqi. To get your picture book published, there are many dos and don’ts you need to know as a writer. Award-winning author Reem Faruqi will discuss how to create a strong opening for your picture book, give examples of successful books from the kidlit world and offer insight on using one’s personal experiences in stories. She will also share tips on navigating the process of getting a picture book agent and publisher, inevitable rejections, and what the process is like fine tuning edits with an editor. She will conclude her presentation sharing which resources she uses for success and inspiration.

BLOCK FOUR: 2:45 – 3:45

1. Panel: Ask an Agent Anything. In this session, attending literary agents, publishers and editors sit on a panel to answer your questions on everything to writing, publishing, building a platform, what agents want, what are the latest trends in publishing, how movie options work, and more. Come ready to ask questions about anything you want related to the writing and publishing industry, and our panel will answer them.

2. The Best Strategies to Finish Your Novel (Finally!) by Chelsea Bobulski. Every writer struggles, at some point or another, to finish their novel. Whether you’re working on your first book and keep getting sidetracked, or whether you’re working on your fifteenth book and the struggle to reach ‘The End’ comes from writer’s block, or too many ideas, or drowning out other people’s voices of what your book should be, this class will give you the tools you need to finally finish your novel (and have fun doing it!).

3. How to Write Great Romance Novels, taught by Sarah Zettel. Romance is the largest literary genre. Like all genres, it’s got its nuances, its reader expectations and its hidden pitfalls. We will deep dive about the tropes and requirements as well as the changing expectations of the most successful of all genres. We’ll talk about the highs, the lows, and the black moments that all go into writing a successful romance novel. Hint: It’s all about the characters, gang.

BLOCK FIVE: 4:00 – 5:00

1. Getting Published in Today’s World: 10 Tips to Make You the Writer Agents and Publishers Want, taught by Brian Klems. If you want to land an agent and a book deal in today’s market, you’re going to have to do a lot more than just write a great book (though that’s a good start). In this session, former Writer’s Digest editor Brian A. Klems discusses the challenges writers face in publishing today and offers up 10 practical tips to help you break through the barriers and find success.

2. Talk That Talk: The Ins and Outs of Writing Great Dialogue, taught by Olivia Cole. Dialogue isn’t just empty words – it’s part of the plot! This session will help authors craft dialogue that is believable, moves the story forward, and gives life to characters.

3. What a Literary Agent Learned From Selling 150 Books to Publishers in 2 Years (and How This Information Can Help You Sell Your Own Book), taught by Cyle Young. Why do some books get contracted by publishers and others don’t? Because, not every book, proposal, idea, or platform is equal. This class teaches you the ins and outs of a manuscripts salability, timing, and marketability and equips you with the understanding of how to create products that are market ready.


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.