The Gripping Read with Seth Harwood

You know the feeling when the sense of reading falls away, and you find yourself completely immersed in a book’s action? Seth Harwood is here to teach you how to do just that: Engage.

Your Instructor: Seth Harwood, author of EVERYONE PAYS and IN BROAD DAYLIGHT

Where: Online — Available everywhere!

When: March 2, 2017 - March 30, 2017

Enrollment: 16 students

Price: $325

Class Description

You know that feeling—the way a book can just grab you? 

Like you're getting ready for bed, and you look at the clock, and it's late, but you figure you'll bang out one more chapter before sleepytime. The next thing you know, dawn is breaking over the horizon and you consider calling in sick to work just so you can finish.

Seth Harwood is here to show you how do that: To write the kinds of books that connect with the reader so strongly, the act of reading falls away, and they find themselves immersed in a book’s action, tied to the narrator’s struggle, watching each scene unfold in their mind’s eye.

The first and possibly most surprising lesson: You don’t need a fascinating, multi-layered outline or a stellar plot concept to write like this. Instead you'll look at how writers and readers connect, building the craft elements necessary to pull readers in and keep them turning the pages.

Students will develop work through exercises in the use of dialogue, visual action, and creating three-dimensional characters in scenes, examining the books of writers like Michael Connelly, Stacey Richter, and Jim Thompson, as well as craft essays by Stephen King and Frank Conroy. You'll learn from your predecessors while building a vocabulary of analytical tools.

Seth earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and went on to publish five crime novels, as well as numerous stories in literary journals, two collections of short stories, and a Kindle Worlds / Kurt-Vonnegut-style novella. He also teaches creative writing at Stanford Continuing Studies and Harvard Extension School.

EARLY BIRD SPECIAL: Sign up by Feb. 23 and save $25 on the cost of the class!*

*After Feb. 23, the price will increase to $350 for the general public and $325 for LitReactor members.

What This Class Covers

Week 1: Anatomy of an Opening

You'll look at different ways to open a story and what critical elements you need to pull in readers, getting them intrigued but never confused.

Week 2: Building Curiosity by Creating a Scene

Using an essay on craft by Frank Conroy, legendary instructor at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, you will explore how to create characters in a defined setting and continue to build a narrative that readers won’t want to put down.

Week 3: Dialogue and Visual Action: Get Them Moving and Talking!

You'll look at the problem most beginning writers face and talk about how to avoid it. By making characters who present themselves visually and speak, you’ll extend your connection with readers as they see your scenes develop in their minds’ eyes.

Week 4: Get the Hook In: Balancing Suspense, Intrigue and “Spilling the Beans”

As you continue your story, you'll examine the use of mystery, suspense, and the writer’s most critical job: management of information. Your final challenge will be to extend an already-tense scene and thus raise narrative drive and suspense.

*Each week will include a writing assignment to be critiqued by Seth and your peers, as well as Q&A and discussion about the topics at hand.

Goals Of This Class

  • Key elements for an awesome opening.
  • What makes scenes work on the page—and in readers’ minds!
  • A new way of looking at the reader-writer relationship.
  • Objective aims for clear writing: what to focus on as you craft each sentence.
  • Priorities for clear writing: a hierarchy of what’s most important for writers to work toward in each line—and what to ignore.
  • Tools for evaluating work by your peers and ultimately your own work, as you move toward better revision and editing.
  • Best practices for writing and editing dialogue.
  • How often to use action in a scene compared with dialogue and description.
  • How to balance pace and description to keep the plot moving along.
  • How to get readers right into your scenes and story, eager to turn pages so they want to keep reading.
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