Posts Tagged ‘PPWC 2017’

Notes from PPWC 2018

The first Pikes Peak Writers Conference I attended was in 2012, and I remember feeling very intimidated and out of place that first morning of the conference. Almost everyone I talked to had already reached a major milestone on the road to becoming a professional writer, like completing their book, or finding an agent or a publisher, or discovering how to self-publish. Meanwhile, I still did not know how to respond when people asked me what genre I wrote in. I didn’t know the difference between literary and genre fiction, or what YA stood for.


I was quickly set at ease though by the wonderful, supportive spirit of the conference. The other writers at the conference were all very encouraging of each other, and they sincerely enjoyed watching each other succeed. I was also very impressed with all of the agents and editors, who were extremely open and honest in their feedback in the Read and Critique sessions. This year was my third time attending the conference, and I was very glad to find all of these elements still unchanged. I left the conference this year feeling once again completely invigorated and inspired to keep going. This year, I was also fortunate enough to attend the conference on a full scholarship, which was very exciting.


I took down a lot of notes during the lectures, and here are a few of my favorite pieces of advice from the speakers:

  1.  On character driven stories: Character driven story begins with the main character having some problem of aspect of self. There must be something in the character, two conflicting desires, that they are unable at the start of the story to reconcile or perhaps even acknowledge. They must be somehow incomplete. In addition, character driven stories prevent characters from becoming comfortable with some aspect of themselves—at least not until the end. The climax of the story usually involves the character being forced to finally acknowledge this internal dilemma.
  2.  On structuring a story: In her session “Short Stories: Pacing,” Mary Robinette Kowal talked about the important of “putting things back in sequence” for the sake of coherent, smooth structuring. For example, if the first thing that you introduce in your story is the milieu, end with the milieu as well. End the story with what you began it with, whether it be milieu, character, event, or inquiry.
  3.  On character passivity: Characters, especially your main character needs to be acting, not just reacting. The main character needs to be making choices that move the story along. If you find in looking back at your story, that your character is mainly just reacting, they are probably not a very compelling character.
  4.  On humor: In his session “Using Humor in Fiction,” Rod Miller discussed the different ways to incorporate humor into writing fiction. He explained how metaphor, juxtaposition, exaggeration, and understatement were all very useful tools. In narration, misunderstanding, tension, pay-off, surprise, redundant lists, and repetitive sound can also be very effective.

I am mainly interested in YA fiction, character development, and writing to theme, and I was happy to find many relevant lectures on those topics. There were also lectures on topics such as writers block and creative nonfiction and the depiction of women in the fantasy genre. There is truly something for everyone at this conference!

PPWC 2019

Applications are still being accepted for PPWC 2019, “It Takes a Tribe”. You will find more information on the scholarship page of PPW’s website. Deadline to apply for a scholarship is January 11, 2019. Registration is now open for all who will be attending. Find your tribe in 2019!

Mary Carmack

Mary Carmack is a teacher living in Colorado Springs, currently working on a literary young adult novel.

Fall in Love with Your Story

Readers, I introduce to you to Samantha Crane, a recipient of a Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2017 scholarship.  We ask those who benefit from our scholarship program to share a bit about their experience at PPWC.  We hope to see Sam back next year ready to pitch!

Each year, the Pikes Peak Writers organization offers a limited number of scholarships to aspiring writers who could not otherwise attend the Conference.  Since 1993, scholarships have been made possible by generous contributions from friends of PPW and participants of the Pikes Peak Writers Conference, and we thank those donors.   Scholarship applications for Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2018 will be open beginning in November 2017.   More information is available here.

The next Pikes Peak Writers Conference  is April 27-29, 2018 in Colorado Springs, CO.

Gabrielle Brown, Managing Editor

I arrived at Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2017 ready to quit writing. I had not worked on my manuscript for ages and I had begun to hate it. While at the conference, the most amazing thing happened. I fell in love with my story again!

After four years of my manuscript waiting for me, I came out of this conference weekend with a bare-bones outline for my first book. I was even able to come up with concepts for two more books, taking this idea from hated and ignored to a trilogy that I am excited to work on. I really can’t pin it down on one “aha” moment because every second spent at the conference was building back up my love of writing. Of the 14 workshops I had the opportunity to attend over the weekend, two really stood out to me.


Impactful Sessions

The first was “Writing Worlds That Work” with Carol Berg. She gave us so much information that I filled nine pages worth of notes. Ms. Berg covered everything from the definition of setting versus world to the background of your world–that is what is 

happening around your character–to keeping your plot unpredictable. Ms. Berg even gave activities to complete so we would grasp the concepts better. 

The second class that stood out to me, perhaps because of my own manuscript idea, was “Designing Magic” with M.H. Boroson. With his help I was able to better define and make sense of the magic within my world. Instead of having a vague idea of there being magic, I now have ideas to make it an impactful part of my current manuscript.


Writers Encouraging Writers

While I loved the workshops that I took and the speakers had such helpful information, I have to say that it was the people that were there that had the most impact on me. From the very first day when I sat down at the query help desk to the final meal on Sunday, I was encouraged by everyone I spoke with. The most common phrases I heard during the conference, and probably the words that will stick with me most, are “just finish it” and “you will finish it”. 

The conference was not all work, however. In our down time we were able to talk with other authors, editors, and agents. We had opportunity to get favorite books signed and shop for new additions to our collections. One of the most fun experiences was the costume dinner. It was wonderful to see so many people dress as beloved characters. The dinner had contests and prizes and is something I will be looking forward to every year.


Turning Point

This conference was a drastic turning point in what I can now call my writing career. I would suggest that every writer, even every person that has a story in mind, attend this conference. You will come away with not only a deeper understanding of writing and its techniques, but you will also receive encouragement by the ton, ideas, and maybe a few new friends. Take the chance, you won’t believe the change this conference can make in your life.

I’m sure I’m not alone in saying thank you, Pikes Peak writers conference 2017, I wish the conference could have lasted longer.

photo of Samantha Crane

Samantha Crane lives in Colorado with her husband and two children. She is first and foremost a wife and mother, who has joyfully taken on the  additional responsibility of homeschooling a preschooler and a kindergartener. In her free time Sam likes Fiber Arts such as crocheting, knitting, and has even tried her hand at spinning and dying her own yarn. Sam began reading when she was 4 years old but never really tried to write fiction until she was an adult. She is now currently working on her very first novel that combines her love of the Fantasy and Mysteries genres with a bit of Horror. Sam is hoping that she will be able to finish it and have it ready for editing within the next year, preferably in time for the next conference.