We've scheduled four exciting craft-of-writing events in October. Come join the fun! No purchase necessary.

All four events are held on Wednesdays from 6:30 p.m. until 8 p.m., at the bookstore. This series is part of PREPtober, to help participants of National Novel Writing Month get their planned stories ready to go. Each event is structured similarly: A 30-minute opening reflection followed by an hour of Q&A and practical workshopping to help each participant hone his or her novel idea.

Writing for the Market: Genre, Theme, and Archetypes

  • October 4
  • So, you wanna be a financially successful author, eh? Unless you set a solid theme within a defined genre using appropriate archetypes, your goal may prove elusive. In this session, Jason will lead a half-hour reflection about literary viability that often bedevils aspiring authors. A book that doesn’t sit within a well-understood genre is hard to classify on a shelf, and therefore hard to sell to readers. A book without a unifying theme degenerates into sequences rather than arcs. Characters and plots that bend archetypes leave readers disoriented and dissatisfied. The archetypes of storytelling are rooted in evolutionary biology and even neurobiology, so ignoring them isn't without consequence.

Characters in Conflict

  • October 11
  • A plot without a conflict is like a car without a gas tank: It might look lovely from a distance but it isn’t going to get you anywhere. In this session, Jason will lead a half-hour reflection about literary conflict: why it matters, how it should inform the events of a story, and how it influences the interplay of characters over the arc of a story.

Planning A/B/C Plots in a Five-Act Structure

  • October 18
  • A plot is more than “one darned thing after another” — it’s an opportunity to highlight a story’s conflict through plausible, meaningful sequences of events.  In this session, Jason will lead a half-hour reflection about setting primary and secondary plot arcs that are based on the core conflicts of your story. These arcs then weave together, often with careful POV changes, into a three- or five-act structure that broadly conforms to genre norms.

The Pearls and Perils of Dialogue, Setting, and Action

  • October 25
  • Every good story balances speech — both internal and external — against action, within a defined place-and-time that, in itself, functions as a character. In this session, Jason will lead a half-hour reflection about what works and what doesn’t: why some speech sings while other speech sounds cliched; what editors assess regarding the voice of inner dialogue; why the rule for descriptions is “just enough but not too much;” how to narrate complex action; and why you should let your readers tend to their own Story Gardens.

For more information about National Novel Writing Month and the Grand Rapids region, visit nanogr.org.