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What is a Plot Device, and Do I Need One?
A plot device is a tool that—when used wisely—can and will enhance a story. However, if not used the right way, it can damage a story. For a plot device to work well, you must answer yes to the following three questions: Is it logical? Reasonable? Meaningful?
A plot device can be a person, place, object, technique or situation that impacts the plot and moves it forward. Just by definition you realize why a plot device is necessary. In this workshop, we will explore a variety of plot devices and identify the ones that can lift your story to new heights, and avoid those that will do you more harm than good.
Here are just a few of the plot devices we’ll dissect and investigate in detail:
• The MacGuffin
• Deus Ex Machina
• Shoulder Angel
• Red Herring
• Chekhov’s Gun
• Plot Twist
• Death Trap
• Reverse Chronology
• Totems and Amulets
Karen Duvall lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and five incredibly spoiled pets. Harlequin Luna published her Knight’s Curse series in 2011 and 2012, and her post apocalyptic novella, Sun Storm, appeared in Luna’s ‘Til The World Ends anthology in January 2013. Her self-published novels include Desert Guardian (romantic suspense), and Demon Fare (urban fantasy). Karen serves on the board of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers as co-chair for the Colorado Gold Writing Contest. She’s a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers of America and in 2017 she won first place in SRA’s Emma Merritt Contest for women’s fiction with her unpublished novel, Unforgettable. She is represented by the McIntosh & Otis Literary Agency in New York City.
January 14 - 27, 2018
Write an Amazing Short Story in Two Weeks
Are you ready to write a short story? Do you want to write one that editors will fight other editors to publish? Learn what it takes to write short stories that will linger in your reader’s hearts and minds the way good novels do, even though your story might have taken only minutes to read. Over a two-week period, you will learn about plotting and pants-ing, crafting compelling characters, beginnings, middles and ends, and the one thing that makes a good story great. You’ll also discuss story writing methods while Saytchyn guides you through steps to find what works best for you. Come prepared with just a kernel of an idea for your story and she’ll help you turn it into a story your readers will never forget.
Saytchyn Maddux-Creech survived the MFA program at Colorado State University with her love of all things creepy intact. She writes horror, fantasy, and mystery with a literary accent. Her short stories have been published in numerous literary and genre magazines under her own name and the name Sandra Maddux-Creech. You can find her most recent work in Petrichor Machine, Typehouse Literary Review, and Menacing Hedge, as well as in the award-winning anthology, Found.
December 2 - 17, 2017
Been There Done That: Writing Effective Flashbacks
We’ll define backstory, why, when and how to use it through dialogue, dramatic narrative, and flashback. We’ll also address the grammar and the “politics” of flashbacks. We’ll discuss the decision to bring insight from past to present using flashback technique. Flashbacks for the character’s sake--adding depth to character, for the story’s sake-filling in gaps, for the writing sake--creating a fully realized story world, instances when a flashbacks work, instances when flashbacks won’t work, dos and don’ts when writing flashbacks, making the grammar work, setting up for the flashback, and we’ll offer examples of flashback triggers and devices - match cutting, use of senses, etc. We’ll also address longer vs. shorter flashbacks, how early is too early for a flashback, editors’ and agents’ attitudes toward flashbacks, and what to do if you are told to nix your flashback. We’ll discuss examples offered by “attendees.”
Karen Lin is a freelance editor for award-winning and best-selling authors. She's a pitch coach, produced screenwriter, script doctor, speaker (cruise ships, conferences, retreats) and an award-winning author of screenplays, novels, narrative nonfiction, literary cookbooks, shorts, essays and articles for magazines. She’s a blog columnist and has worked with top New York agents on projects ranging from novels and literary cookbooks to celebrity ghost projects. Through a Hollywood agent, her award-winning screenplays have been considered by Barry Sonnenfeld, James Cameron, HBO, Showtime, and the Sy-fi channel.
Find out more at www.karenalbrightlin.com
March 12-25, 2017
Stepping Back—A Look into Today’s Historical Fiction
Think you want to write historical fiction? The genre is not what it used to be. Today’s historical fiction is a complex collection of genres and sub-genres with a variety of popular styles. Learn to identify where your material best fits, the basic common elements, variations in approach and style, research expectations, and complications you may encounter.
The 2010 RMFW Writer of the Year, Pamela Nowak has a B.A. in history. Her historical romance novels have won the WILLA Finalist Award, the Colorado Book Award, the HOLT Medallion, and HOLT Awards of Merit. Now at work on a women’s historical fiction novel, she has become increasingly aware that there is no such thing as one way to write historical fiction.
November 5 – 18
Writing A Winning Contest Entry
Contests, such as the coming Colorado Gold, are an important part of the writer's journey. Contests provide the author with exposure and oftentimes, the final entries are judged by agents and editors. This two week online class will review the various elements judged in the Colorado Gold Writing Contest as well as offer participants a chance to submit samples of their work for feedback.
Lessons will include:
- Selecting the correct genre for your entry
- Point Of View
- Scene Craft
Whether you choose to enter contests or simply improve your writing skills, this is the class for you.
Karen Duvall lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and five incredibly spoiled pets. Harlequin Luna published her Knight’s Curse series in 2011 and 2012, and her post- apocalyptic novella, Sun Storm, appeared in Luna’s ‘Til The World Ends anthology in January 2013. Her self-published novels include Desert Guardian (romantic suspense), and Demon Fare (urban fantasy).
Karen serves on the board of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers as co-chair for the Colorado Gold Writing Contest. She’s a member of Women’s Fiction Writers of America and is one of three finalists for women’s fiction in the Emma Merritt Contest, sponsored by San Antonio Romance Authors, with her unpublished novel, Unforgettable.
Karen is represented by the McIntosh & Otis Literary Agency in New York City.
April 2 - 15, 2017
The Dreaded Synopsis Workshop
Sure some people like to write a synopsis. For most writers, the task is about as appealing as jumping into a frozen lake during sub-zero weather--even though some people like that, too. How is a writer to choose among all the conflicting rules, such as a synopsis should be no longer than 3 / 5 / 8 /10 pages (would somebody please decide)? Condensing this much from a whole long novel seems impossible, right? You may be thinking, why not simply read the story?
This workshop helps participants identify the elements required to put together a solid synopsis without it feeling like stuffing a king size foam mattress back into that tiny plastic bag that it arrived in. Workshop participants leave with a workbook that provides concrete reminders of the steps and the techniques that help deconstruct a story to reveal the elements that should be included in a synopsis. The class will end with participants final project writing … the not-so dreaded synopsis
Sharon Mignerey has always known that she wanted to be a story-teller from the time she learned in second grade that spelling words could be turned into stories. She has been a member of RMFW since 1984 and says she became an “instant success” in 1995 when, within 30 days, she sold two books and won RWA’s Golden Heart award for unpublished writers. Since then, her career has had the usual ups and downs typical for most writers, which has culminated in 11 published novels and several more under submission. She regards RMFW as her writing home and loves giving back to the organization. She is a well-known and sought after speaker on the craft of writing and motivation. She has an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction and has had articles published in the Writer Magazine.
April 16 - 29, 2017
Unmask Your Character’s Voice Through Deep Point of View
If you believe it to be true, it’s true. That’s an old saying which simply means your beliefs are your reality. Thank goodness for that or this would be a pretty boring world. Well, your characters are no different. Their lives and actions are built on their beliefs. Point of view is the lens an author uses to narrate a story which allows the reader to hear and see what a character is feeling or thinking at any given moment. Deep character POV takes average writing and breathes life into your character’s voice to give readers an engaging read, page after page, scene by scene.
This class will start with the basics of point of view. What is it? Which point of view is best for your book? We’ll step into the therapist’s office and plop down on the couch and dig into your character’s minds. How do you, as the author, show and develop strong character voice? Do all your characters believe the same things, act the same way or sound the same? Who should the POV character be in a scene? Do they reveal all or nothing? These are just a few of the points we’ll cover with exercises and live chats.
A long-time member of RMFW, Peggy Waide entered her first Regency romance in the RMFW Colorado Gold Contest. The judging editor offered her a contract. Dreams do come true! She has published four titles with Leisure Books. Montlake now publishes her titles. She is currently shopping an Amateur Sleuth mystery and wrapping up a contemporary romance. She has also presented workshops at RMFW Gold Conference on time management, pitching to editors and agents, writing in layers, plotting and point of view as well as running RMFW conference for two years.
May 7 - 20, 2017
Want to Turn Your Novel Into a Screenplay?
Karen Albright Lin
Delve into this very different approach to storytelling and the unique challenges to breaking in. Explore how this collaborative industry works: coverage, finding representation (agents, managers, entertainment attorneys, and the cons - such as stable agents), define options vs. sales, story expectations and the unique format of the film script. Karen is a script doctor, produced screenwriter and writer-for-hire. She's learned some of the rough spots of the industry first hand, and will share her insights. We'll cover book to film requirements, the three act structure (including sequences, plot points, length and format requirements), how to protect your work, high concept, marketing (including trades, directories, networking opportunities like professional organizations such as CO Actors & Screenwriters Assembly, contests, lead services, the best reference books and websites). Also screenwriting software, collaboration and rewriting credit. What is a meeting? Outright Sale versus Development Deals and Auditions. Managers versus Agents, WGA signatories, producers, directors, script consultants, coverage, sample scripts, spec scripts and Writer for Hire. We'll discuss "attendee's" stories and how they might work as screenplays.
Karen is a freelance editor for award-winning and best-selling authors. She's a pitch coach, produced screenwriter, script doctor, speaker (cruise ships, conferences, retreats) and an award-winning author of screenplays, novels, narrative nonfiction, literary cookbooks, shorts, essays and articles for magazines. She’s a blog columnist and has worked with top New York agents on projects ranging from novels and literary cookbooks to celebrity ghost projects. Through a Hollywood agent, her award-winning screenplays have been considered by Barry Sonnenfeld, James Cameron, HBO, Showtime, and the Sy-fi channel. Find out more at www.karenalbrightlin.com.
June 4 - 17, 2017
Behind The Curtain: Removing the Mystique of Self-Publishing
For many, self-publishing (or indie publishing, as it is also known) seems out of reach. With so many aspects of the business to run, it's hard to know where to begin. But in reality, there has never been an easier time to take the plunge and become an author-publisher. Technology has advanced and there are methods and tools to help you be the captain of your own ship. In this class, we will go through the steps of Production, Planning and the Launch. It doesn't matter where you are in terms of finishing your novel; if you want to be an author-publisher, it's never too early to start formulating the steps you'll need to take. The purpose of the class is not to give you a step-by-step formula, but to assist you in creating your own formula. There are as many ways to self-publish as there are author-publishers.
Specifically, this workshop will address Planning, focusing on social media presence, marketing, and promotion. Each student will learn about being wide versus exclusive with Amazon, how and when to do your ebook and your print book, and what you need to personally evaluate in order to make the best decision for your book and your business. Then we will look at Production, and how to build your production team of an editor, cover designer, and formatter. Finally, we will go through the aspects of the Launch and what to do in order to give your book a great start once you hit the publish button. At the end of the workshop, participants will have an outline of how to publish their work themselves, and the skills to take the next step as author-publishers.
Lisa is a USA Today bestselling indie author of paranormal romance and urban fantasy. Her series include The Realm, Heart of the Djinn, Sisters of the Curse, The Aumahnee Prophecy, and in the summer of 2017, The Dragon Thief. She is on the board of RMFW, serving as the IPAL (Independent Published Authors League) Liaison. In 2016, she was the recipient of RMFW's Independent Writer of the Year award. You can find out more at www.lisamanfold.com.
July 10 - 22, 2017
Character Building with Tony and Phil
In order to create believable characters, an author needs to know what his characters believe. Often, in the midst of plotting, we find ourselves asking this question: What would this character have to believe to make him do that? In this course, we will look at characters beliefs through the tools given us by coaches Tony Robbins and Dr. Phil. Some of the topics we’ll look at as we build characters are these:
- People do what works
- People will go a lot further to avoid pain than to seek pleasure
- People show love using their own currency
- People ACT based on their beliefs.
Jaxine Bubis, a.k.a Jax Hunter, a published military romance author is working on her first historical fiction taking place on April 19, 1775. She also runs two Revolutionary War websites. Her readers rave about the depth of her characters, something every good book needs. She is a regular contributor to the RMFW Blog with articles all about writing romance and has spoken many times at the RMFW Colorado Gold Conference. Jax lives in the high mountains of Colorado where her office looks out on a range full of 14’er and 14’er wannabes. She can be found on Facebook as WriterJaxHunter. And check out Revive1775.com.
August 6 - 19, 2017
The Art and Craft of Building Great Conflict
Nothing in fiction moves forward without conflict. As writers, we all know this, and we generally know what conflict is—the two dogs, one bone thing. Still, the rejections may come with notes to the effect of “the conflict between the characters just isn’t strong enough” or “the characters don’t struggle enough” or “the conflict isn’t believable.” This three week workshop focuses on how to build believable conflict in both the outer and inner story problem. Inner conflict deals with why a character wants a particular thing and is rooted in basic human needs that are often related to self-worth. Outer conflict deals with accomplishment. These two need to work together to be compelling and to be unique to these characters in this story. There are tips and techniques to test a character’s behavior in the midst of conflict, and to keep the tension escalating to the story climax. The goal is to create conflict that is completely organic to the story in which it resides.
Sharon Mignerey has always known that she wanted to be a storyteller from the time she learned in second grade that spelling words could be turned into stories. She has been a member of RMFW since 1984 and says she became an “instant success” in 1995 when, within 30 days, she sold two books and won RWA’s Golden Heart award for unpublished writers. Since then, her career has had the usual ups and downs typical for most writers, which has culminated in 11 published novels and several more under submission. She regards RMFW as her writing home and loves giving back to the organization. She is a well-known and sought after speaker on the craft of writing and motivation. She has an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction and has had articles published in The Writer magazine.
September 17 - October 7, 2017
Writers Write! Practical Tips to Stay Motivated
Robin D. Owens
There is a universal truth for all writers. You must put your butt in the chair and words on the page. That can sometimes be a challenge. In a year and a half period, Robin had five books due, ranging from 80K – 100K word count. Hiding under the covers was not an option. In this class, Robin will coach you through techniques to motivate you to sit down daily and keep you focused on the long haul. Some of the lessons and exercises she’ll cover are finding your writer’s identity, setting goals, fighting negative distraction such as your inner critic and brainstorming to help break through writer’s block and hang tough when panic or self-doubt creeps in.
RITA® Award Winning novelist, Robin D. Owens has been writing longer than she cares to recall and currently has 30 books, 2 novellas, and several stories to her credit. Two of her books were included in Amazon’s 10 “Best Romances of the Year,” as has Library Journal. She credits the telepathic cat with attitude in selling her first futuristic/fantasy romance, HeartMate, published in December 2001. She is profoundly thankful to be the recipient of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Writer of the Year award in 2004 and again in 2011. She has also received the Colorado Romance Writers Lifetime Achievement Award and the 2010 Best Paranormal and Best of the Best Daphne Du Maurier Award.
October 8 – 22, 2017