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"Any first time author can be made to look "fabulous" -- it's all about how an agent, author and publisher present the author. Every author has a background and a story, which can be told to the book- sellers and public in a boring way or a way that is spectacular."

  Barbara Zitwer

"If an author is a terrific writer and has a voice or perspective or style that's not been seen before, there is a far greater chance it will have a place in the literary market. Though it's true that it can be tough to get a first book published, agents and editors are always looking for the next voice or story."

  Elise Capron

"Whatever you're doing in this business, whether you're an agent, editor, or writer, it's crucially important to keep on top of what's happening in the industry. Agents and editors are much more likely to take writers seriously if they can name other writers in their genre whose work they admire ..."

  William Gottlieb

"The truth is that most publishing professionals needn't read further than that. They are trained to make instant decisions (they have to if they want to survive), and that means learning how to decipher what's wrong right away. Judging a book in five sentences might sound like an outrageous idea. But it's really not."

  Noah Lukeman

"It is not more difficult to sell first fiction today than it ever has been. What is more difficult is to sell a third or fourth novel. Unless an author today finds a sizeable audience very quickly, they will be washed out—and, thanks to computerized inventory tracking by bookstore chains, washed out without hope of a second chance with a new publisher."

  Donald Maass

"I love working with first time authors. I love the feeling of helping an author achieve their dream of getting published. We have assisted quite a large number of first time authors. Sometimes, not having a track record can be a good thing! Editors also like to discover new talent and it's better to be a terrific, untried author than to be a good author with a horrible sales history."

  Paige Wheeler

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About Algonkian

   Novel and Fiction Workshops and ConferencesPhone: 1-800-250-8290
   For New and Established Writers
 Algonkian Conference Syllabus and Author List

The following syllabus and author list are applicable to all Algonkian conferences and shops. Students focus on creating a single publishable work within their chosen genre, as well as on learning the realities of the American literary market through the agent pitch process. The conferences and shops devote equal time to structure (plot, complication, character, premise, etc.) and narrative (prose quality, craft techniques, scene writing, etc.).

First-time students are provided with an 86 page NOVEL WRITING STUDY GUIDE that closely follows the subjects noted in the syllabus below. Students read, analyze and discuss novel elements of plot, complication/drama, theme, scene construction, narrative, prose style, and other craft techniques learned from the following authors/playwrights, and while performing the following workshop exercises and assignments:

1. What The Successful Author Must Possess
Platform-Premise-Execution at 110%, Market Basics, "The Plan," Craft Basics, Purpose-Passion-Tenacity, Single Best Author Tool + A Great Pitch.  
    Exercise: Students role play as senior editorial staff at Random House and review a manuscript submission, arguing either for acceptance or rejection of the author's work. Study guide readings and discussion.

2. Market Reality and Pragmatic Thinking
Author Needs vs. Market Demands, Nuances of Genre vs. "Literary", What the Commercial Caesar Demands, Insider Info, Fierce Competition and Agent Targeting, From the Heart But Smart, Pitching the Novel, Log Lines and Query Letters. Algonkian agent and workshop faculty
    Discussion, Q&A, novel pitch sessions and reaction.

3. Drama's Most Powerful Elements in The Novel
Drama Theory, Statement of Conflict, Rising Action, Three Act Structure, 15 Steps of Complication, Reader Reaction Flow. Dryden, H. Miller, Krutch, Kesey
    Exercise and Assignments: creation and elaboration on each student's major conflict/complication in the novel and in synch with practicing the novel pitch. Study Guide readings and discussion.

4. The Intellectual Trace of Theme
Statement of Theme, Importance, Application and Representation, the Ripple Effect and Impact of Theme Throughout the Novel. Malraux, West, Kesey, Ionesco
    Exercise: creation of a primary theme statement for novel. Study Guide readings and discussion.

5. Know Your Story, Know Your Characters
Animation Sketching, Cognition and Affect, Social Reaction Profile, Ticks and Tags, Epiphany and Emotional Evolution, The Power of Great Antagonists, Sympathetic Protagonist in First Ten Pages. Patchett, Martel, Kidd, Albom, S. Anderson, E. Brontė, Fitzgerald, West, Hemingway
    Exercise: students sketch a unique and sympathetic protagonist in the context of the first ten pages of their novel. Study Guide readings and discussion.

6. Plot Devices and Other Needs
Scene Construction, Verisimilitude, POV, Masking, Foreshadow, Timesim, Exposition, Surprise, Minor Complication, Suspense Techniques, Character Arcs, and more. McInerney, O'Connor, Zola, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Ibsen, O'Connor, R.P. Warren, West, Knowles, Nabokov
    Exercise: diagram a prototype plot flow for novel. Study Guide readings and discussion.

7. Story Enhancement Techniques
Stages of Event, Narrative Energy, Seeding of Tension and Sub-events, Anecdotal Devices, Imagery, the Human Condition, and IMAGINATION. Robert Graves
    Exercise: construct and write a pre-defined scene that highlights setting, conflict, and metaphor. Study guide readings and discussion.

8. Strong Narrative Through Synergy
Prose Enhancement Guides, Compare and Contrast of Narrative Styles, The Art of Fiction; Subject Matter vs. Prose. Chabon, Godwin, Kosinski, Kingsolver, Updike, Proulx, Marquez, Brontė
    Exercise: construct and write a pre-defined scene that highlights dialogue, interior monologue, and suspense.

9. Dialogue: Never a Gratuitous Word
Screen and Stage Dialogue, Major Functions, Show Don't Tell, Need for Inclusion of Specific Elements, Types of Dialogue, Narrative Interjections, Character Roles in Scene. R. Price, Joyce, T. Williams, Hemingway
    Exercise: given back story, students write one major scene with dialogue, noting pivotal points.

10. Prose Enhancement and Publication
Prose drills, prose narrative guides, structure reference guides, the perfect synopsis. Meetings with agent and editor to discuss student work and publication possibilities. Shakespeare, Roethke, Welty, M. Martone, Plath, Chabon, and many more.
    Exercise: specific drills designed to hone competitive style. Students leave with a specific plan to realistically approach publication of their novel ms.

The conference workshops will examine, discuss, and then work through specific craft and prose exercises derived from direct analysis of a select group of works. (please note: students are NOT expected to read all the books on this list--please consult with workshop leader) This group currently includes:

  • "Bel Canto" (Ann Patchett)
  • "Third Degree" (Patterson and Gross)
  • "The First Five People You Meet In Heaven" (Mitch Albom)
  • "The Secret Life of Bees" (Sue Monk Kidd)
  • "The Life of Pi" (Yann Martel)
  • "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay" (Michael Chabon)
  • "Evensong" (Gail Godwin)
  • "The Burden of Proof" (Scott Turow)
  • "The Shipping News" (E. Annie Proulx)
  • "Claudius The God" (Robert Graves)
  • "Lucky You" (Carl Hiassen)
  • "The Poisonwood Bible" (Barbara Kingsolver)
  • "Lolita" (Vladimir Nabokov)
  • "The Illustrated Man" (Ray Bradbury)
  • "Wise Blood" (Flannery O'Connor)
  • "The Great Gatsby" (F. Scott Fitzgerald)
  • "All the King's Men" (Robert Penn Warren)
  • "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" (Ken Kesey)
  • "Miss Lonelyhearts" (Nathaniel West)
  • "The Sun Also Rises" (Ernest Hemingway)
  • "Wuthering Heights" (Emily Brontë)
  • "One Hundred Years of Solitude" (Gabriel G. Marquez)
  • "The Centaur" (John Updike), and others.

Web del Sol/Algonkian Workshops
2020 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Suite 443
Washington, D.C. 20006