Threading the Plot Needle at #AWP15

Some good news! At the 2015 AWP Conference in Minneapolis, I will be taking part in a panel on plot and story design–last Friday, the proposal was officially approved.

Myself and some very impressive authors–Lynne Barrett, Joy Castro, and my MFA mentor, Lauren Grodstein–will be talking about how to craft a compelling novel or short story. We’ll discuss how to design your own plots and teach better plotting to others. If you are going to the conference, pencil our talk in: it will be good!

The panel was a long time in the planning. It started back at the end of last year: Lynne Barrett and I, plus the crime writer Bill Loehfelm, gave a talk on plot at the Hands On Festival that was very well received. After that talk, she and I began to plan to take our ideas on plot to the biggest conference of writers and teachers, AWP.

Then came the tricky process of crafting the actual proposal: AWP receives over a thousand proposals each year, and accepts about half of them. Then came the waiting, which lasted until last Friday.

Here is the full panel description:

A Thread Through the Labyrinth: Learning and Teaching Plot:

Too much plot? None at all? Writers well-trained in other aspects of writing fiction are often confused and daunted by plot, lost in its maze of possibilities. Panelists will share their experiences learning how stronger plot invention enhances character, structure, and meaning in novels and short stories, and will suggest approaches to teaching how to perceive, discuss, and evaluate plotting. We’ll offer charts, maps, and other techniques for devising and envisioning a plot’s twists and turns.

Are you going to AWP (in Minneapolis) next year? Did you send in a proposal? (If it wasn’t accepted, I can empathise: my second panel proposal for AWP, on genre fiction, was sadly rejected…)

Best wishes,


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