Conversations and Connections DC 2020: Practical Advice on... has ended

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Fiction [clear filter]
Saturday, April 18


Crafting Suspense
Crafting suspense might seem to be the work of writers in various genres—crime fiction and horror most specifically—but all writers (literary too!) can benefit from the tools of the suspense writer. How do you spark your readers’ curiosity for what happens next? How do you tighten tension and escalate conflict to keep those readers turning the page? How can you modulate pacing, navigate reader expectations, and strategize surprise? This session draws on work by writers including Patricia Highsmith, Margaret Millar, Alice Munro, Flannery O’Connor, Scott Turow and more to illustrate various techniques for incorporating suspense into your own work.  

avatar for Art Taylor

Art Taylor

Associate Professor, George Mason University
Art Taylor is the author of the story collection The Boy Detective & The Summer of ’74 and Other Tales of Suspense and of the novel in stories On the Road with Del & Louise, winner of the Agatha Award for Best First Novel. He won the 2019 Edgar Award for Best Short Story for... Read More →

Saturday April 18, 2020 TBA


How to Write Sex and Love…Without Grossing Readers Out
As a writing teacher, professional editor, and a writing coach for two decades, the one issue that comes up frequently, even among experienced writers, is writing love and sex. Overwriting, gross intimate details no one wants to hear, a barely pornographic scene or two, and wildly inappropriate language are among the few gaffes that come up. Writing love and sex is dependent on the development of the character and the sustained creation of tone and voice. It can be beautiful or terrifying, romantic or tense and depends on the content of your story. Consideration of audience also matters. I have seen too many fabulous manuscripts ruined by bad sex and silly love scenes. This workshop will demonstrate what not to do, what you should do, and will guide writers in the tricky development and language of sex, love and all that goes with it. A brief engaging writing exercise will launch the craft workshop. Rules for appropriate discussion will be enacted to create a safe and sane environment for all people. This workshop encourages diversity, all are free to join.

avatar for Leslie Schwartz

Leslie Schwartz

Leslie Schwartz has written two award-winning novels, Jumping the Green and Angels Crest and most recently (July 2018), published a memoir, The Lost Chapters; Finding Recovery and Renewal One Book at a Time. She won the James Jones Award for best first novel for Jumping the Green... Read More →

Saturday April 18, 2020 TBA


Murders, Monsters, and Marriage: Writing and Stretching Genre Fiction
Some people call it “genre” writing, but publishers call it gold. Horror, crime, sci-fi, romance, and noir have always been popular, but what challenges do they present for writers? Novelists will discuss their own experiences writing and being published in these genres, as well as tips on how to creatively engage genre expectations, establish your own distinct voice, create suspense, and more.

avatar for Dave Ring

Dave Ring

dave ring is a writer, counselor and dilettante living in Washington, DC.  He is the chair of the OutWrite LGBTQ Book Festival and an active member of the Speculative Wordsmiths.  He is also the publisher and managing editor of Neon Hemlock Press.  He has two speculative anthologies... Read More →
avatar for Tara Campbell

Tara Campbell

Tara Campbell (www.taracampbell.com) is a writer, teacher, Kimbilio Fellow, and fiction editor at Barrelhouse. Prior publication credits include SmokeLong Quarterly, Masters Review, Monkeybicycle, Jellyfish Review, Booth, Strange Horizons, and CRAFT Literary. She's the author of a novel, TreeVolution, a hybrid fiction/poet... Read More →
avatar for Tara Laskowski

Tara Laskowski

TARA LASKOWSKI’s debut suspense novel One Night Gone won the Agatha Award, Macavity Award, and the Anthony Award. She also wrote two short story collections, Modern Manners for Your Inner Demons and Bystanders. She has won the Agatha Award and Thriller Award for her short fiction... Read More →
avatar for Kelly Maher

Kelly Maher

Kelly Maher is the author of contemporary romances that feature smart heroines, witty heroes, and settings that make you feel like you’re living there. Kelly has been published since 2006 and has had stories selected to be part of anthologies from Cleis Press and Black Lace Books... Read More →
avatar for E. A. Aymar

E. A. Aymar

Of E.A. Aymar’s The Unrepentant, Publisher’s Weekly wrote, “gut-wrenching…readers who appreciate depth of character alongside gritty nonstop action will be rewarded.” His past thrillers include the novel-in-stories The Night of the Flood (in which he served as co-editor... Read More →

Saturday April 18, 2020 TBA


Particular, Resonate, Concise: Writing the Micro
There’s the idea that anyone can write, especially something short, but it takes a special writerly sensibility to write with brevitic empathy, to build resonance in the crucible of a few words, to create dimensional characters who can enthrall and frustrate. Writing the micro (>400 words)  demands that the writer juggle diction and syntax without losing the effect of character, conflict, and setting. How do we create the feeling of story, the movement of narrative, the well-spring of emotion while using the parameters of short word counts?

This generative workshop will take a prompt-based approach to look at different ways to write micro fiction/non-fiction. The prompts will be inspired by fierce and resonate examples from amazing writers who specialize in writing flash and micro stories. We will dig deeper into the writer’s craft decisions and word choices while targeting specific skills we can use to create our own micros. Using these elements of craft, we will create fresh micros full of resonate concision. Having these tools as part of our writing tool kit should enable us to let go of our inner tensions and feel freer to create poignant and exciting micros.

avatar for Tommy Dean

Tommy Dean

Tommy Dean lives in Indiana with his wife and two children. He is the author of a flash fiction chapbook entitled Special Like the People on TV from Redbird Chapbooks. He is the Editor at Fractured Lit. He has been previously published in the Atticus Review, The MacGuffin, The Lascaux... Read More →

Saturday April 18, 2020 TBA


Writing for Children
Everyone -- from Madonna to Jay Leno -- has written a children's book. So how hard can it be? We will discuss how to write for specific age groups while not compromising on style, content, and themes. This session will discuss the various sub-genres of "kidlit" and cover the needs in the children's literature market.

avatar for Susan Muaddi Darraj

Susan Muaddi Darraj

Susan Muaddi Darraj won an American Book Award for her novel-in-stories, A Curious Land. It also earned the 2016 Arab American Book Award, won the AWP Grace Paley Prize, and was shortlisted for a Palestine Book Award. Her previous short story collection, The Inheritance of Exile... Read More →

Saturday April 18, 2020 TBA