Workshops for Writers

For Writers

Anna LOVES meeting new people, especially writers and she would be thrilled to present one of her workshops to your writing group or organization.  Below is a list of workshops Anna has developed over the years and each can be adjusted to fit into any time frame (1-4 hours).  Many are PowerPoint presentations, and each workshop she gives always includes extensive handouts (or download links) for all attendees. 

For more information, please email Anna.

 

IT’S ALL ABOUT CONFLICT

No matter the genre you’re writing, conflict is key. Whatever your characters’ goals and motivations, the conflict they struggle with and against is what will keep your readers turning the page. In this workshop, we’ll explore both internal and external conflicts using examples from novels, TV, and movies. Time permitting, we’ll examine the character conflicts of some brave volunteers and get you all ready to write the best story you can: conflict included! 

 

THE FIRST FIFTEEN PAGES

(online (2 weeks) or in-person)

You know what they say, hook them from the start. Whether targeting editors, agents, or readers, it’s vital go grab your audience’s attention from not just the opening pages, but from the opening line. This class focuses on various editing and clarifying techniques to ensure you have all the information your readers need to dive deep into your story and not want to put it down! Attendees should plan on having the first 15 pages printed out and ready to work on.

Motivation: The Missing Link

While many put the focus on the goals of their characters and the conflicts between them (and rightly so), motivation often gets lost in the shuffle. WHY your characters act the way they do, what motivates them to make the decisions they do, is just as vital to well-developed stories and the characters who inhabit them. This isn’t just for your hero or heroine, or your protagonist. Secondary characters and villains also need proper motivation. More important, that motivation needs to be BELIEVABLE. This workshop will address all of that and much more as we work to dig deep and really make your characters earn their HEAs.

 

CREATING AMAZING CHARACTERS

Developing Character and Character Arc

Presented with author Melinda Curtis 

(2 hours – all day)

Long-time critique partners and bestselling authors Melinda Curtis and Anna J Stewart join forces in this workshop designed to help you flesh out fresh, dynamic, and realistic characters for whatever genre you’re writing. 

With tons of stories being written every day, how can you create characters that leap off the page and demand attention? Getting readers (of any type–agents and editors included) to invest their time and money in your story begins and ends with your hero and heroine. Name any genre, any novel, it’s all about the characters. What’s Jane Eyre without Rochester or Game of Thrones without Tyrion? Pride and Prejudice without Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth? Stephanie Plum without Morelli or Ranger? Or, heaven forbid, Eve without Roarke. Can’t imagine those stories without them, right?  Exactly.

So what comes first…the story or the characters?  Good question–here’s one answer that works for us–a good story can’t happen without the characters.  How about we build some from the ground (or name) up?

Former Golden Heart finalist and USA Today Bestselling author  Anna J Stewart will begin at the beginning…choose a name and let’s go!  A reference book hoarder, she’ll walk you through her process of finding out what makes her characters who they are.  By utilizing books on Astrology, archetypes, name origins, and more (do you have The Emotion Thesaurus?!), by the end of this segment we’ll have a couple ready for their story…and HEA.  For Anna, creating characters is a bit like an archaeological dig–the deeper you go, the more you uncover and that information helps you form plot, setting, and more importantly, goal and motivation.  Which is where Melinda Curtis comes in…

Once you have a character that interests you, they need to begin with a certain outlook on life, one which has been created by something in their past.  They haven’t grown or changed before the h/h comes along because they’ve developed ways to protect their wounds, keeping them from their happily ever after. Psychologists have identified 18 common wounds and their defenses. Adding a wound to your character makes them believable. Using a proven defense keeps them reacting consistently. As your characters begin to break down each others’ defenses and fall in love, they grow and change, and Viola! Character Arc!

 

NOVELLAS: WRITING SHORT IS THE PERFECT BRIDGE

Handout

 Never in her wildest dreams did Anna, who once suffered from a terminal case of the never ending story, think she’d ever develop an affinity for writing novellas.  Her first attempt, THE CHRISTMAS WISH, resulted in her first traditional sale (Harlequin Heartwarming, Nov, 2014) and became a national bestselling title. Since then, she’s written fifteen novellas and ventured into the world of self-publishing with the Lantano Valley stories, the now defunct Kindle Worlds, and most recently, a boxed set of 3 paranormal novellas originally published with Heart’s Kiss Magazine. 

Writing short isn’t always easy, but there are definite benefits to this format.  There are even some tricks Anna is happy to share. Bonus! Writing novellas can even make you a better writer. Also covered in this workshop is Anna’s experience with multi-author boxed sets and continuity series (short and long novels).

 

Say Yes! Then Figure It Out

So much of the writing business is luck and how do you embrace luck? By saying yes! Anna’s workshop will show you how embracing the power of YES! (while not ignoring the importance of “NO”) can open up publication avenues you’ve only dreamed of!

 

CONFESSIONS OF A TV ADDICT

Everything I Know About Writing I Learned from Watching TV

Handouts/Optional PowerPoint

(90 min – 3 hours)

It was while watching the very first SHERLOCK (A STUDY IN PINK) when Anna experienced an “a-ha” moment that changed how she views television and how she writes.  That epiphany helped to develop this workshop which draws from TV shows, past and present, as well as popular (and not so popular) movies.

Consider this: TV can encompass everything we strive to perfect as writers. Plot, character, pacing, conflict, relationships . . . the list is endless. Some shows hit all the right marks while others fizzle on premiere night. What is it that makes some stories so compelling they stay on the air for years while others just don’t make the cut? By examining popular (and not-so-popular) shows and movies of the past and present, we will dive into an examination of what keeps an audience glued to their chairs . . . because those same elements will keep your readers glued to the page. Not a fan of network or cable? There are other avenues to explore – ones that can enhance your writing and your stories and they are just a click away on your TV remote.

A self-admitted TV and movie addict, Anna has learned how to make the most of her viewing habits. Growing up in the age of Wonder Woman, Star Wars, and early girl-power shows like the Bionic Woman and Charlie’s Angels, this is where her love of storytelling began (along with some help from Stephen King). Whether you’re a fellow addict or don’t own a television, after this workshop you’ll view “the box” as more than a  “boob tube” and see new ways to enhance your own writing with the shows you choose to watch.

 Prepare to have fun, play some games, and put your television knowledge to the test. Don’t worry if you’re not up on all the latest shows. Surprises await even those not well-versed in pop culture.

Anna also offers variations on this workshop where she focuses on different genres/elements of TV and movies including Super Heroes, Science-Fiction and Fantasy, Cops & Criminals, and of course, Romance.