The Cleveland Rocks Writing Conference is a one-day event aimed at writers of any genre in any phase of their career.
WHEN: August 19, 2023, from 9:00am to 5:00pm
SPEAKER: Critically acclaimed author Steven James will present a jam-packed day of exploration of the art of story.
WHERE: Best Western Plus, 15471 Royalton Road, Strongsville, OH 44136
COST: $50 for GLFW members, $75 for non-members.
REGISTRATION: Please complete the registration form HERE. (Please pay via PayPal to GLFWTreasurer@gmail.com after completing the registration form.)
Registration includes a continental breakfast and a buffet lunch. We’re also bringing back our famous basket raffle!
The Story Cube: An in-depth exploration of what truly lies at the heart of all great stories
Ever since Aristotle, story theorists have been looking at story through a temporal lens—beginning, middle, and end, or first act, second act, and third act. But what if there was another way of conceptualizing story on a more elemental level? What if there was a way of understanding story that was easy to visualize and remember and that would apply to any genre you write? Well, there is, and in this two-part seminar you’ll learn how it can transform your writing and storytelling forever.
In Part 1, you’ll learn:
● What a story really is (it might surprise you!).
● The specific things that your opening needs to accomplish, no matter what genre you write in.
● Why every story that doesn’t entertain collapses in on itself—and what to do about that.
● How to use settings to either inhibit your character’s pursuit or enhance it.
In Part 2, you’ll learn:
● The three realms of struggles within a story and what readers expect to happen within each of them.
● The centrality of tension, its propulsive force to drive a story forward, and how to enhance it through unmet desire.
● Why struggles are incubators for growth and why sacrifices that mean nothing to characters mean nothing to readers.
● Specific tips on creating moral dilemmas that will engage readers, reveal characterization, and add intriguing, unpredictable climaxes.
Pivots and Payoff: How to write an unforgettable ending every time
Your story’s pivot is one of the most important moments in your story, yet one that’s rarely taught. It will be unexpected, inevitable, an escalation of what preceded it, and a revelation that adds meaning to what has already occurred. Readers want to predict how a story will end, but they also want to be wrong—yet still satisfied. In this seminar you’ll discover how to develop pivots and climaxes that leave your readers stunned, thrilled, and blown away.
● Why the necessity of “rising action” is a myth and what to include instead.
● How to create believable twists that won’t feel too contrived, too predictable, or too outlandish.
● The difference between stated and implied narrative promises, why it matters, and when to use each of them.
● Why it’s much more important to be able to state your dilemma than your theme.
Contingency, Believability, Tension, and Escalation: The four essential propellants to story progression
Stories are propelled by four narrative forces that affect the development of every scene, the movement of the story as a whole, and the reader’s engagement with the story. When they’re present, your story will pull forward with tension and engagement. But how do you make sure every scene has them? This two-part seminar will teach you how.
In Part 1, you’ll learn:
● Causality and how it affects the movement of every action and the progression of every scene, and precipitates every twist.
● Ways to tap into the contingent aspects of fiction to avoid coincidences, chance, and occurrences of deus ex machina.
● Why you should abandon the concept of “subplots” and think of them as layers of the story instead.
● Why character intention matters more than motivation, and how to clarify it in each scene.
In Part 2, you’ll learn:
● Why tension doesn’t necessarily come from conflict and why you should stop trying to add conflict to your story and focus on tightening tension instead.
● The importance of believability and how to make any event in your story more believable.
● When and how to let readers know that an event in the story is unbelievable, and how that will move the story forward and enhance reader engagement.
● Why action can undermine tension and what to do about it.
Scene Study: How to make the most of every scene
Every scene will end in one of four ways—and only two of them do anything to move the story forward or contribute to the character’s development. Learn what those two are and, even more importantly, discover how to master the two scene endings that will actually advance and enhance your story.
● Why pursuit is far more important than plot, and how to use that insight to inform every scene in your manuscript.
● How to know when to summarize a scene and when to render one.
● Why it’s essential for characters to fail in order for a story to proceed.
● How to start scenes, what stalls them out, and what can propel any scene forward.