Below is the time schedule for our five-day conferences (in Paris, San Diego, Portofino and Cape Town), from 10:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Our weekend workshops include a light working lunch and start at 12:00 noon. Note that each conference is unique and tailored to the projects of the attending writers, while also following the below format.
Our Dublin conference hours are: 12:00 noon until 5:00 p.m. each day.
Our weekend conferences (special events) follow the below schedule in condensed form, or schedule details are provided on the particular event page.
DAY 1, Monday 10:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Continental breakfast.
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 Noon Introduction
You are about to embark on an adventure, a journey into your own ideas that will be full of surprises, challenges, and revelations. You will be given a foundation on which to build something solid, beautiful, and long-lasting. In the course of the week, during our interactive sessions, you will explore:
How to Define and Create Your Most Compelling Book : Conscious and Unconscious Processes * The Elements of Structure * Creating Plot, Place and Character Outlines for Any Genre * Active Versus Passive Writing: Some Tips, Tools and Techniques * Identifying Your Audience * The Role of Research in both Fiction and Nonfiction * Developing Your Voice and Point of View * How to Stay On Track * The Role of Exclusive and Original Material * Sourcing Tips and Techniques * How to Present Your Book to Publishers
During our opening session, writers introduce themselves and state their goals and what they’d each like to accomplish here. We investigate creative focus and process, and “getting to the essence” of your particular work.
Live writing exercise #1 : Getting to the Essence
NOON – 1:00 p.m.
We explore sharpening the focus of your work as illuminated by the morning’s talk and exercise, and lay the foundation for:
There are certain common elements of all great writing, no matter the genre. What are they? Over the course of this retreat, you will be given a creative matrix to apply to your own work—whether you are writing for the page, the stage, or the big screen. Our group this week includes novelists, nonfiction authors, and playwrights. (Some of you are also poets.) We will begin to explore how all are forged by the use of : Plot/action, Character, Voice, Theme/Belief Systems, Place/Setting, and Temporal/Structural concerns. We will also look into the potential role of poetic language in each. Over the course of the week, we will get into great detail exploring and developing each of these elements in your work.
1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Lunch. (During our lunch break, you might want to pick a small excerpt from your work that you feel exemplifies either the essence of your work, or a problem you’ve encountered in the course of your work. If you are in the early stage of developing an idea, is there a particular area where you feel stuck? We will get back to these during our late after sessions.)
2:00-4:00 p.m. After lunch, Ms. Rohm takes you on a guided meditation for
Live writing exercise #2:
The Plot Outline: An Improvisation or How to Dream Your Way Into Your Story
We look at action, structure, and how your work is framed in time.
In an interactive session, we transform inert material into riveting, vivid narrative and storytelling, looking into action—use of a plot outline--and structure/temporal concerns. We add to this a lesson on building suspense. You will notice something very interesting that you may use as one of your mantras while honing your storyline: Where there is revelation, there is suspense. You’ll find out why. It will be helpful for you to make a bullet list of all the possible revelations of your book, play, or screenplay. If you are not quite sure, that’s OK. If it’s fiction, you can play with the possibilities freely and outlandishly—set your stakes high. How do these revelations fit into your plot outline?
Live writing exercise #3: Building Suspense: A Landscape for Revelation
4:00 – 4:30 p.m. Authors share their work.
Evening Networking. Optional cocktail and wine soiree.
DAY 2, Tuesday
10:30-11:00 a.m. Continental breakfast Introductory talk on Character.
11:00 a.m. -1:00 p.m. We move more fully into character --- lessons that apply to both fiction and nonfiction. Characters are revealed through their actions, what they do and what they say. Drama shows people at their extremes. Your main character must be in the midst of the battle of his or her life, or a test or challenge or crisis of faith. We’ll focus on the main character of your book, or one of the key characters. As they say, “If you want to find out what a person is made of, put that person under pressure.” You’ll also learn how a place or thing can also function as “character.”
Live writing exercise #4: Revealing Character Through Action
1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m. Working lunch.
2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. We continue the morning’s exploration of character, and also look at the role of plot development and character—and how both are framed by time and place, and their impact on how your story is told.
3:00-4:00 p.m. A guided meditation and writing exercise that takes your main character(s) through the most important turning point in your story. Our focus this afternoon is looking at your character development, and making sure you are making the most interesting choices. Nothing should be random in your creation. Characters need to be driven by an internal fire. The things they do should illuminate who they are. We look at what characters do via their beliefs and, sometimes, their abrupt departures from their beliefs.
Live writing excercise #5: An Exploration of Character Under Stress: ShatteringBelief Systems
4:00-4:30 p.m. Authors share their work. We’ll continue discussions over a working lunch, and you will have opportunities to ask questions and interact with other writers.
4:30 p.m. Optional cocktail and wine soiree.
DAY 3, Wednesday
10:30 a.m. – 11 a.m. Continental breakfast. Introductory talk on the business of publishing.
11:00 a.m.-12:00 A presentation on the completely different approaches to selling fiction and nonfiction, and working with literary agents and publishers. The role of a book proposal, how to write one, and query letters. What to expect from your literary agent and publisher, and how advances and other contract issues work. How books move from the page to the stage, or the big screen.
12:00-1:00 Live writing exercise #6:The spellbinding query letter. Ms. Rohm will guide you through crafting a query letter that will get the attention of literary agents and publishers.
1:00-2:00 Working lunch. We’ll continue discussions over a working lunch, and you will have opportunities to ask questions and interact with other writers.
2:00-4:00 p.m. After lunch, we return to our creative processes. We pick up with the role of Place and Perspective, and the backdrop of your story. We will home in on a key aspect of your story situated at a particular place; and we’ll view it via a close up on something particular in the landscape, and/or via a long shot from a mountaintop or a helicopter or other vantage point from above.
Live writing excercise #7: The Macrososm and the Microcosm: Narrative Long Shots and Close Ups.
4:00 – 4:30 p.m. Writers share their work.
4:30 p.m. Optional cocktail and wine soiree.
DAY 4, Thursday
10:30 a.m.-11:00 a.m. Continental breakfast Introductory talk on Theme and Belief Systems
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 The plot of your book or play is an attempt to illuminate a particular philosophical problem, belief, or snapshot of a world at a particular point in time. We will explore underlying belief systems, whether conscious or unconscious. Artfully understanding and using the thematic elements of your work will result in a work of art that is deep and resonant versus flat and merely commercial. Commercial fiction and nonfiction are great and very popular, but you have an opportunity to make your work even more resonant and expansive—a book (or play or film) that has the potential to be appreciated by many generations—if you look at enriching the thematic and even historical concerns underlying your work.
Live writing exercise #8: The Underpinnings of Belief
12:00 – 1:00 pm We will merge the layers of Belief with Place/setting. Place is of course an “in your face” ingredient for playwrights and screenwriters. It is also just as important to fiction and nonfiction writers. It also can reveal underlying thematic and “belief” systems. We’ll explore this, and then begin to make the matrix work as one.
Live writing exercise #9: The Resonance and Meaning of Place
1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m.
Working Lunch. We’ll continue information discussions over a working lunch, and you will have opportunities to ask questions and interact with other writers.
2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. We go back and revisit the business of publishing and producing and the lessons of Wednesday afternoon, particularly in light of the current economy, and why now is a better time than ever for creative artists. A primer on how to identify your particular audience, and how to leverage your talent in a way that gets the attention of the powers that be. A lesson in building your own creative confidence and recognizing that without YOU, agents, publishers, and producers are out of business.
4:00 – 4:30 p.m. Authors share their work
DAY 5, Friday
10:30-11:00 a.m. Continental breakfast.
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 Today we combine the work of the previous days with the unifying glue: Developing Your Voice and Point of View. The fluidity of first person and the omniscience of third person and other methodologies are explored.
We’re in the habit of thinking, based on bland television and newspaper reporting, that a homogenized voice is the most objective and appropriate voice for conveying and unbiased story. That may work well for presenting a certain type of general information to the public, but does not serve the richness and color and personal nature of authentic stories, stories that live and breath what life is really like and the gamut of human experience.
This morning, you are given permission to discover your most colorful, personal, and authentic voice.
Live writing excercise #10 : Hanging By Your Heels: An Extreme Lesson in Point of View
1:00-2:00 pm. Working lunch. Authors share their work.
2:00-3:00 p.m. The valuable role of research for fiction and nonfiction authors alike.
3:00-4:00 p.m. Sourcing tips and techniques for fiction and nonfiction authors. Does your book have “permissions” concerns you don’t know about? We’ll look at those, along with how to mine history, archives, live interviews, and eye witness observation.
4:00-4:30 p.m. Authors share their work.
4:30 p.m. – 11 p.m. Optional networking soiree and dinner.
Our policy is the same as that of other online courses and in-person professional conferences. Registrants canceling up to two weeks before a conference or online class will receive a 50% refund. No refunds are given after that. We are unable to make exceptions to this rule, due to advance booking requirements, and the need to reserve space in each class for enrolled students. Please consider travel cancellation insurance whenever making travel plans. In the event that we must cancel a workshop or class and you do not wish to choose another workshop, you will receive a full refund of your payment.