Yes, dear friends, whether you're wanting to know more about the craft of writing (character development, story structure, dialogue, etc.) or are eager to overcome the nerves you feel before pitching your work to agents and editors, CraftFest -- as these fun-filled days are officially titled -- is the place to be.
Last year's CraftFest was a huge success and marked the introduction of a special series of Writer's Digest Bonus Sessions to kick off the first day's events. This year, however, is shaping up to be even better. Here are a few examples of the high-caliber talent who will be on-hand, not to mention to valuable information they're willing to impart:
"Pitch Your Work to Agents and Editors." -- Presented by Kathleen Antrim and Steve BerryDescription: Nervous about pitching your manuscript to an agent or editor? Bring your concept to class, and learn how to pitch it to agents and editors in 25 words or less, starting with the words, "What if?"
"Living on the Ritz - How to Hit the Times List in Five Years or Less" -- Presented by Lisa Gardner
Description: While luck is always a factor in success, a good career plan also goes a long way. Join Lisa Gardner for a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into making the New York Times list--and how you can start building your career today.
"The Business of Writing." -- Presented by David Morrell
Description: Many authors dream about leaving their day job and becoming a full-time writer. But when does it make economic sense do so? It's important to write the best, most honest stories possible, but it's also important to know how to handle your income from those stories. Would a sudden large advance improve your life or potentially destroy it? Drawing on his 37 years as a professional writer, David Morrell (Rambo's father) discusses the business aspects of being an author.
"THE SCOOP! Using Television's Techniques For A Top Notch Thriller." -- Presented by Hank Phillippi RyanDescription: Here's what you need to do to produce a successful television news story: Develop memorable characters. Build suspense. Show conflict. Tell a compelling story. Create a satisfying ending. Find justice. Change lives. That's exactly what Boston's premier investigative reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan's been doing for her entire career. But here's the scoop. Writing a successful thriller requires exactly the same things. And Hank's years of experience with journalism can now give your book a boost.
With her top-ten list of questions, journalism techniques, solid practical applications and even in-class exercises, this Emmy- (and Agatha-) winning reporter will teach you the secrets of television news. And then: she'll show you exactly how those skills can work for you to develop the novel you always wanted to write. Or to make your next book better. It's a never-before-presented workshop...and your chance to learn the inside scoop!
"Creating a Series Character: some readers want growth, and some don't. Where is the sweet spot?" -- Presented by Lee Child
Description: How to mine the unique strengths of the series format without succumbing to its fatal weaknesses.
"Writing the Thriller: 10 Points On Craft." -- Presented by Barry Eisler
Description: How you hook a reader from the first sentence -- feeding the reader the information that draws her into the story while simultaneously famishing her for more.
"Writing and Selling the Million Dollar Screenplay." -- Presented by Jon Land
Description: The course will cover the most crucial elements of screenplay structure and strategies to market the completed product. Included in the discussion will be the realities of selling a script in today's Hollywood and proven shortcuts to success.
"Plotting Evil: Creating the Baddest Bad Guys." -- Presented by D. P. Lyle, MD and Michael Welner, M.D.
Description: What makes real murderers tick? What drives their obsessions and actions? How do they plan and plot their crimes? In this calls we will learn what motivates the bad guys from an expert in criminal behavior.
"How - and Why - to Write Thrillers for Young Readers" -- Presented by R. L. Stine
There are even more great classes to be found during CraftFest. (To see a full list, visit the official ThrillerFest Programming page.)
Even though I came to New York last year as a newly signed author, I attended as many of the CraftFest sessions as possible. No writer knows everything about the craft. We are all constantly learning and evolving. We learn from one another, and where else can you possibly learn from some of the most easily recognized masters of the field? If you're serious about writing thrillers and suspense, CraftFest is well worth your time.
Check back in two weeks for my next posting on who I'm most looking forward to seeing at this year's ThrillerFest. The list may surprise you.