This page contains a list of some of the creative writing courses and seminars available through Cyberscribe, Inc, and taught by Eric M. Witchey. To discuss a custom course for your orgnaizatoin or to receive a price quote on one of the listed courses or seminars, send a request to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Minimum: a large white board with working markers and eraser
Ideal: wireless lapel microphone or a wireless hand-held microphone, a large white board with working markers and eraser, and a laptop projector for each session.
Available Workshop Titles and Descriptions
Custom workshops are available.
The following workshops are aimed at fiction writers; however, several are also useful to non-fiction writers. All courses are designed to be useful to any level of participant. Time slots are flexible, according to the needs of the organization. Unless otherwise noted, the workshops are dynamic, interactive instructional format and include Q&A at the end.
Write a Story Now
This fun, fast-paced, audience-interactive seminar will demonstrate brainstorming, outlining, and writing techniques that will result in a collaborative short story written on the spot by the presenter and the audience. Attendees will walk away with handouts and techniques they can immediately apply to the development of new short stories, new novels, and existing work revision.
Break the Block
Learn how many creative ways we stop ourselves from producing, then learn how to find your favorite and turn it into a thing of the past. Whether you’re paralyzed by perfection or overwhelmed by complexity, the hero’s journey is between the coffee pot and the keyboard. In this seminar, you’ll find tips and tricks for moving forward and finishing your fiction. Come laugh at your demons and watch them wither and die.
Mythic Power from Your Life
Find the hundreds of heroic journeys you’ve lived and learn to mine them for emotional content that will make you characters real for the reader. A moment from your life can become a short story. A day can become a novel. A thought can make a character real for the reader. Come and learn techniques for discovering the unnoticed power in the moments of your life and turning them into powerful fiction.
From K-Mart to Tears
Setting IS NOT Character; Character IS Setting
We’ve all heard it from reviewers and readers: “The setting is so good it’s almost a character.” This seminar will shift perspectives from the consumer’s (the reader’s) view to the creator’s (the author’s) view. Using an experience at K-Mart, this fun, interactive seminar will deliver techniques for using your character’s perspective and experience to create contrasts and resonances that will load any setting with the power to make your readers claim your setting is a character. Come and walk the isles, then go home and use these techniques to make any setting an exotic and powerful setting.
Transform From a Reader to a Writer
The study of literature is primarily the study of creative final results – finished stories rather than the construction of stories. The study of literature can teach us to recognize textual patterns that have succeeded, but it seldom teaches us how the authors achieved their amazing effects. This seminar turns the tables and teaches techniques for analyzing powerful fiction then turn that analysis into techniques you can practice and use in your own creative efforts.
Do you feel like you’re carrying bricks uphill when you sit down to write? Would you rather feel like your writing takes off on its own and drags you breathlessly behind it? Parallel Play is a powerful productivity technique that makes use of workgroups and basic human social psychology to create flow states that will help your writing take off on its own. This seminar will teach you to create and manage Parallel Play sessions for yourself and others. (Note to the conference Administrators: To be truly effective, this seminar should take 3 hours and include 3 full 45 minute writing sessions).
Care and Feeding of Your Writing Group
We all want a great critique group, a place where insightful, accomplished people will help us take our craft to the next level. Unfortunately, most critique groups have several fatal flaws built into them. This seminar will expose drawbacks and obstacles created by normal critique group organization. It will then present solutions and techniques to help you take your craft to the next level whether you have a group or not.
First Line Hypnosis: Grab 'em and Keep 'em
Reading is like hypnosis. A person has to trust the hypnotist in order to go under. The reader has to trust the writing in order to lose themselves in fictional worlds. Hypnosis is a state of mind in which we are aware of both reality and immersion in the suggested world. The same is true of fiction. This seminar focuses on tricks and techniques that create trust and pull your reader deeply into the illusion of your written worlds.
Writing the Short Story
Practicing short fiction has many benefits. All the techniques of short fiction are applicable to novels (though the opposite is not true). The form allows writers to test techniques, attempt new genres, develop characters, and earn a little income without committing months or even years to the development of one story. Finally, short fiction can help develop readership and credentials. This seminar focuses on structures and techniques you can practice to create short fiction that sells.
Character-Based, Emotion-Driven Plotting
We all want character-driven plots no matter what genre we work in and what length of fiction we write. This seminar is based on Eric Witchey's article, "The Logic of Emotion," which appeared in Writer's Digest Magazine. The seminar teaches students a powerful tool for developing character-based, emotion-driven scenes and stories. Issues of character decision making, voice, and structure will be touched on. Students will do exercises if time allows.
Once asked to provide a male perspective on writing male characters, Eric Witchey had to laugh out loud. After all, writing the male perspective came to him naturally. He didn't have to think about it. Writing the female perspective was something he had to learn. Writing from another cultural perspective was something he had to learn. The two learned sets of techniques had a lot in common. This seminar examines techniques for developing narrative verisimilitude when working outside of our personal lives and experiences. Whether you're non-Anglo trying to develop white bread and mayonnaise characters, an Anglo writing outside the white-bread world, a man writing a female character, or a woman writing a male character, the techniques described in this session will help you make the leap to another perspective.
ED ACE and The ABCs of Fiction
In this fun, interactive session, award-winning writer Eric Witchey will use group brainstorming techniques to describe, demonstrate, and teach you to use powerful tools for aiding composition and revision of emotion-driven, commercial fiction. Mr. Witchey will demonstrate use of ED ACE, the cycle of Emotion, Decision, Action, Conflict, and new Emotion. He will also provide techniques for more subtly blending the ABC(s) of Agenda, Back story, Conflict, and (s)etting. Participants at any level of craft will walk away with powerful, instantly useful aids to composition and revision.
You Didn't Get a New Brain Just Because You Started Writing.
Award-winning writer Eric Witchey will expose some of the magical thinking writers tend to embrace. He will go on to provide insights into how anyone pursuing craft can take advantage of their own physiology to learn faster and to produce better fiction. No matter where you are in your pursuit of craft - publishing professional or aspiring writer -- this talk will provide tools you can start using even before you leave the conference.
Short Fiction for Fun, Money, and Skill: Contests, E-Markets, Magazines, Anthologies, and Collections
This seminar demonstrates how to use short stories to build your skills faster while having fun and making a little cash on the side. Eric Witchey will demonstrate hands-on techniques, the importance of knowing your target audience, and efficient methods of manuscript management and marketing. This seminar is appropriate for all levels of development.
ABCs of Saleable Fiction: Agenda, Back Story, Conflict, and (s)etting.
This hands-on, interactive seminar demonstrates techniques for managing the interplay of important narrative skills in order to create compelling, saleable fiction. This seminar can be taken as a stand-alone, or it can be taken as a continuation of -- and preparation for -- Mr. Witchey's other seminars.
The Mystery of Voice
This fun, interactive seminar will unravel the mysteries of "voice." We've all heard the phrase, "We're looking for a fresh voice, and we'll know it when we see it." So, what is it and how can you create it? Eric Witchey will break the concept of voice down into easy to understand, manageable techniques that will allow you to develop and exploit "voice" in your fiction. This seminar is appropriate for all levels of development.
ED ACE and Your Writers Group
Many writers faithfully labor away in small groups for year after year, but isn't the point to improve our craft and sell our work? Hard work simply isn't enough anymore. We have to work smarter. Eric Witchey will speak on how work smarter. He'll demonstrate the use of the ED ACE structure (Emotion, Decision, Action, Conflict, and new Emotion) to improve your group's criticism and to improve the composition and revision of your work even if you have to practice craft in isolation. Later in the day, he'll offer a hands-on seminar in which writers will put the principles described in the morning session through their hands and onto the page.
ED ACE and the ABCs of Character-driven Fiction
In this hands-on seminar, teacher and author Eric Witchey will lead discussion and exercises that help writers capture the tools he first presented in Writer's Digest Magazine and The Writer Magazine. Writer's will learn to recognize and use ED ACE and the ABCs. ED ACE = Emotion drives Decision. Decision drives Action. Action drives Conflict. Conflict creates a new Emotion. ABC(s) = Agenda, Back story, Conflict, and (setting). Don't miss this chance to practice with concrete, executable techniques that can revitalize your fiction whether you are a beginner or a published professional.
Starting A Story
For some, sitting down to write is harder than sticking our heads in a garbage disposal and throwing the switch. This seminar examines techniques for getting to the blank page then discovering a story to fill the pages.
Character and Setting; Attitude and Significance:
We've all heard the advice, "Good stories open with a character in a setting with a problem." This class looks at powerful openings to reveal how to use your point of view character's attitude and subjective responses to trap the reader on the page.
Short Fiction Re-Vision:
Anybody can type twenty pages. Selling twenty pages means mastering the skills of stepping back and re-visioning so that the changes you make create a powerful experience for the reader. This seminar provides concrete tools for taking a rough draft, any rough draft, through the difficult stages of revision. The seminar includes exercises for refining themes, enhancing dramatic power, handling diverse criticism, determining what to keep and what to cut, choosing POV, changing voice, polishing dialog, and manipulating prose for more power.
Polish to Perfection:
The story is finished! Hooray! If you're sure it's done, then polish it one more time. This seminar explores techniques for finding the tiny gotchas that slow down the reader and degrade the fictive dream we work so hard to create. It includes ways to use the power of your word processor to approach sets of common problems and bring out the full power of the tale you want to tell.
Grammar Tools for Fiction Writers:
You're a forty-year-old author. Your grammar teacher shows up at your book signing with a standardized test and a number two pencil. Pass, and you keep your "I'm a Writer" membership card. Fail? We won't go there. Will the old saw "I know if it sounds right" save you? No. Grammar Tools for Fiction Writers is about using the vocabulary of grammar to discuss sentence-level decisions that improve fiction. The seminar includes a fiction-oriented review of grammar and punctuation. In addition, the seminar will demonstrate how the vocabulary of grammar can allow richer experimentation with sentence-level effects. The seminar looks at tense, voice, mood, case, and punctuation as tools used to affect the reader. It really isn't enough to know a sentence sounds right. A good writer needs to know why it sounds right and half-a-dozen ways to make it sound better.
Opening Lines that Grab
A seminar taught by Eric. M. Witchey. The editor has 2000 manuscripts and only 12 slots in their anthology. Will they even read your story? They will if you make them. This class looks at powerful openings to reveal how to use point of view character attitude and subjective response to trap the reader on the page.
Commercial Fiction Critique Session
A session in which Eric M. Witchey (a veteran teacher and survivor of many crit groups, including James N. Frey intensives and Clarion West) will teach techniques for giving, taking, and interpreting criticism. Science fiction, fantasy, horror, romance, and mystery fiction provided by brave (and anonymous) attendees will be used as examples.
Move beyond the frustration of critique groups into techniques that allow you to learn craft four and five times as fast by engaging with exactly the same people and process. How? The techniques presented in this seminar will shift the focus of your effort in a way that allows you to understand and practice writing techniques because you engage in the analysis of other people's stories rather than because you receive analysis of your own. Free yourself from the opinions of others and make much better use of your time and effort.
A ten-week course consisting of four to six hours of instruction per week.
The course will focus on emotional content, motivations, and effects. It will demonstrate tools for finding and exploiting excellence in your work. It will address global, systemic revisions, scene-level revisions, and language-level revisions. As a bonus, the process of the course will demonstrate techniques for using your work and the works of others to teach yourself to improve your writing.
This course requires that you have completed at least one novel-length manuscript. Additionally, you must be willing to work hard for ten weeks. The course contact time is three hours per week. Additional homework will require six hours of work per week.
Become Your Own Story Doctor
An eight to ten week course consisting of four to six hours of instruction per week
Anyone can criticize a story, but only an accomplished story doctor can move past criticism to offer the kind of useful advice that will make a story saleable in its target market. This course takes the students through a series of modules designed to familiarize them with principles of drama, techniques of implementation, and methods of internalizing technique so that they can analyze their own stories to find patterns of success and patterns of failure. The course includes a substantial out-of-class practice component, and each student will accumulate a complete reference book of tools and techniques by the end of the course.