July 22-25, 2021
New York City


Pre-Conference Workshops

WDC20’s Pre-Conference Workshops are the perfect opportunity to go deep on a topic with expert, hands-on guidance.

NOTE: These exclusive pre-conference workshops kick off the 2020 Writer’s Digest Annual Conference weekend on Thursday, November 5. Register today!

The Compass of Character: Creating Complex Motivations for Compelling Characters

In this workshop, David Corbett—award-winning author of The Art of Character (“A writer’s bible” —Elizabeth Brundage) and The Compass of Character (“You won’t find a more thoughtful, more human approach to crafting characters.” —Jessica Strawser)—will guide participants in a detailed examination of how to create, develop, and portray on the page compelling characters with complex and recognizably human motivations.

Through both the lecture materials and in-class exercises, you’ll learn:

  • How to explore the four key elements of motivation: Lack, Yearning, Resistance, and Desire.
  • How to explore moments of helplessness in the character’s past to discover the core problem of his or her life, and how that informs the character’s Yearning and Resistance.
  • How to develop the character’s moments of helplessness into patterns of behavior—Pathological Maneuvers and Persistent Virtues—that define their habitual conduct at the story’s onset.
  • How to let the understanding of Yearning and Resistance inform the character’s approach to her three levels of struggle: internal, external, and interpersonal.
  • How to interweave those three levels of struggle to achieve narrate and dramatic unity.
  • How to integrate that exploration with the standard background inquiries into the psychological, sociological, and physical nature of the character.
  • How to add nuance through exploration of vulnerability, secrets, and contradictions.
  • How to add additional complexity through an awareness that characters often fail to understand their Yearning and Desires correctly, or pursue misbegotten Yearnings and mistaken Desires given a false or fearful understanding of what they want and why.
  • How to reveal an awakening to the character’s more viable Yearning and Desire by making the increasing conflict encountered in the story a learning experience with the potential of greater self-awareness and deeper sense of identity.

Learn more.

Personal Essay Essentials: How to Break Into Print with First-Person Writing

In this workshop, Windy Lynn Harris—founder of Market Coaching for Creative Writers and author of Writing & Selling Short Stories & Personal Essays: The Essential Guide to Getting Your Work Published—will teach you how to find publication success in the coveted literary magazine market by crafting and selling short personal essays. Packed with practical advice, this class includes:

  • Personal essay writing defined in detail.
  • A step-by-step guide to crafting personal essays.
  • A revision plan for short creative prose.
  • An overview of literary magazines and how they impact your career.
  • Finding the right magazine for each of your essays.
  • Submitting your work professionally.
  • Making authentic connections with literary magazine editors.
  • Essay chapbooks and full-length collections—other opportunities for your essays.
  • Copyright, contracts, and the rights you sell.

Learn more.