West Texas A&M University

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West Texas Writer's Academy

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2015 Courses and Instructors


At WTWA 2015 you can expect to start the morning with breakfast at the general session followed by a total of four hours of daily class time with your in-depth instructor.  Spend the late afternoons and evenings writing, power editing or chatting with fellow writers.


Crime Writers Police Boot Camp: Experience It - Then Write It

Matthew Sherley

Retired Police Lieutenant and author

     Crime writers will experience police training first-hand, a unique opportunity to help writers accurately portray the world of law enforcement in their writing. 
     Boot Camp will begin each day in the classroom covering such topics as: characterization of individuals involved in law enforcement, interview and interrogation tactics, cold case investigations and the myths of police work. Daily writing assignments are based on the previous day’s instruction.
     In the afternoon, students will be in the field. Training sessions will include: the firing range learning about the capabilities of different firearms and what equipment police officers carry; “shoot-don’t shoot” training scenarios; basic crime scene investigation; jail tours; building searches and K-9 demonstrations. If their schedule allows, each camper has the opportunity to ride on patrol with a local on-duty patrol officer.
     Crime Writers Police Boot Camp: The days will be long. The work will be interesting. The impact on your writing will be immediate.  

 
World Building in Fiction: Creating Reality out of Imagination

Cathy Maxwell
Author of 30 published romance novels (and five anthologies), many of them spending significant time on the New York Times and USA Today mass market best-seller lists.

     World Building, the construction of an imaginary place with its own set of rules and code of conduct, was once only associated with Fantasy and Science Fiction literature because of the epic proportion of the stories, but not any longer. 
     Today, series, or stories that need more than one book to unfold, are part of all categories of genre fiction. When a story captures readers’ imaginations, they want more and a smart writer knows how to keep the tale spinning. In “World Building in Fiction,” we will discuss what must be considered in the pre-writing, strategies for realistic world building, and how to build upon a series as well as discussing character, conflict, and story in the traditional sense. Writing exercises will be used to clarify students’ understanding of these concepts. 

 

Master Your Manuscript: Catch and Keep Your Reader Using the Secret of Clarity

Lori Freeland
Young Adult fiction writer, writing coach and presenter for the North Texas Christian Writers, regular contributor and blogger for Crosswalk.com and Believe.com, and former editor for The Christian Pulse.

     A few of us write for ourselves. Most of us write for other people. As storytellers, we want to create a mood. Set a tone. Even mold a new world. But sometimes we’re so caught up in the excitement of sharing the magic in our head we forget a reader can only experience what we’ve actually put on the page.
     Writing a compelling story requires mastering the craft. But when do you use those writing rules and when do you ditch them? The backbone behind every rule comes down to a simple secret—clarity. Topics and techniques can be applied to articles, short stories, novellas, memoirs, or novels.

  • Frame your scene with mood, setting, and purpose.
  • Lock into deep POV using scenes that show, not tell.
  • Drive tension into dialogue.
  • Find your flow. Make your style work for you.
  • Demolish reader stumbling blocks.
  • Manipulate sentence structure and toss vague and unnecessary words.
  • Battle boredom. Nix clichés, filter words, and overused descriptions.
  • Plan and execute your perfect pace.

Plot Your Novel in a Week!

Alexandra Sokoloff
Bestselling suspense author/screenwriter, Thriller Award winner, and Anthony Award and Bram Stoker Award nominee.

     Using screenwriting techniques, students will use key elements of visual storytelling to structure and color their novel for maximum emotional impact, memorable scenes, and riveting pacing.  In this workshop you'll learn how to use film writing concepts such as the Three-Act, Eight-Sequence Structure, the Storyboard Grid and the Index Card Method of plotting.  Start the week with an idea, end the week with your entire plot! 
      Based on award-winning author/screenwriter Alexandra Sokoloff’s internationally acclaimed Screenwriting Tricks For Authors workbooks and blog.
 

Deep Editing: Adding Power to Every Page

Margie Lawson
Writing Coach for over 20 Published Authors

     Writers who learn Margie’s psychologically-based deep editing will add seven new drawers to their writing toolbox. Each drawer will be loaded with power tools that writers need to write fresh, analyze scenes, add power to every page, pick up pace, enhance rhythm and cadence and beats, and hook the reader viscerally.
1)   Scene Analysis with the EDITS System
2)   Four Levels of Powering Up Emotion: Basic, Complex, Empowered, and Super Empowered
3)   Writing Body Language and Dialogue Cues Like a Psychologist
4)   Top 25 Rhetorical Devices to Enhance Structure and Style
5)   Deep Editing Techniques to Strengthen Your Openings, Turning Points, and Endings…and Everything In Between!
6)   Visceral Rules: Beyond Hammering Hearts
7)   Margie’s Killer Five Question Scene Checklist
     These power tools have been used by thousands of writers, from newbies to New York Times bestsellers. Learn deep editing, strengthen your writing, and impress agents, editors, readers, and reviewers. Make your WIP carry psychological power that boosts you into a contract, or makes you an NYT bestseller.
 

Daily morning general session:

The Writer's Life: What's Stopping You?

Romney Nesbitt
Creativity Coach

Monday: Make It Matter, Make It Happen
          Clarity, confidence and calm, goals and challenges, noble substitute activities, and relaxation exercises

Tuesday: Procrastination Pointers
          How issues with time, value, expectancy and delay impact your productivity

Wednesday: Self-Sabotage and Fear
           Impulsivity, when and how to say “No,” rabbit trails, decision making, and how to not adopt an elephant

Thursday: Time and Accountability
          Right action/right time, the secret of twenty minutes, energy rhythms, input vs. output, assess real progress, and “good enough” actions

Friday: Where Do You Go from Here?
          Develop a writing plan for your real life, use intuition for a quick start, manage critique and negative self-talk, and Q & A