Fiction Fluency Master Series Curriculum

Write deeper, write faster, write better. Discover how readers internalize story in heart and mind with Eric Witchey’s Fiction Fluency Seminars.

Fiction Fluency Master Seminar Series Part I: Step-by-Step Building Blocks of Dramatic Fiction

The first group in the Fiction Fluency Master Seminar Series demonstrates the core developmental tools and patterns for producing stories that have a strong emotional impact on the reader.

Master Seminar One: Character Influence and Line-by-line Emotional Contrasts

June 13-14 ONLINE

The critique group said it was “kinda slow through here” or “she wasn’t a sympathetic character.” But they didn’t tell you how to fix it.

Even the description of drying paint can be made powerful in the mind/heart of the reader once you understand what the reader needs. The basis of all human perception is recognition of contrasts: figure/ground, hotter/colder, brighter/darker, higher/lower, better/worse, etc. This seminar demonstrates how our perception mechanisms translate words on a page into recognizable emotional contrasts. That reality is translated into the participant’s ability to recognize, design, analyze, and exploit opposing energies (dialectic pairs) by understanding the character that drives those energies.

Exercises in very short narrative and dialog will lead to an introduction to, and use of, the ED ACE tool, the Because, Because technique, manipulation of implication, and management of reader projection. Exercises may also include analysis of small pieces existing stories and revision to participant works in progress.


Master Seminar Two: Character Definition and Impact on In-scene Agendas and Tactics

July 18-19 ONLINE

“You have beautiful prose, but….” Not a letter you want to receive from the editor. If our characters don’t reveal differences through choices, they are all the same character to the reader/editor.

This seminar will explore how characters interact when faced with mutually exclusive agendas (conflict). The seminar will include development of characters with personal history, unique psychology, unique physiology, and well-developed desires that change as circumstances change. We’ll demonstrate how and why their attempts to achieve results are unique to them in the context of a dramatic moment.

The seminar will combine the emotional contrasts (dialectic pairs) from the previous seminar with changes in emotional/psychological states that drive tactic changes. We’ll look closely at tactic changes in dialog and how those changes can cause the reader to know much more than is actually being said. The concept of Emotional/Psychological State Transformations (EPSTs) will be applied for the first time in the series. ED ACE will also be used.

Exercises will include production and revision of new text. If time allows, existing story text and short blocks of participant works in progress will be analyzed and revised.

Master Seminar Three: Deeper Character Development and Stronger Impact through Conflict Sets

August 15-16 ONLINE

“OMG! They wanted me to cut 30%!” Well, if they did, or if your beta readers are skimming, or if your mother’s eyes glaze over while reading then she says, “Bless your heart. That’s so nice, Dear. You are so smart,” then chances are pretty good this is the seminar that will turn things around.

This seminar will examine Vertical and Horizontal Story (seminar 3) in more depth and explore the nature of and interactions of three types of conflict (conflict sets). Exercises will demonstrate how to design, discover, or exploit conflict by understanding and evaluating text through the lenses of dialectic pairs and tactic groups. We’ll examine characters and their relationships to risk, stakes, and consequence.

Exercises will include the creation of characters with sufficient depth to motivate agendas and tactics in each of the three types of conflict sets. EPST and ED ACE will both be used for analysis and revision. Various techniques for exploration of character will be demonstrated and applied. Character emotional states will be applied to the creation of Indirect Dialog in more detail than in the previous seminar.

Master Seminar Four: Characterization in Dramatic Scenes

September 12-13 ONLINE

We have all written strong pieces then looked at them and wondered if we had written a story or just a scene. If it is a single scene, is it just a scene, or is it a story?

This seminar explores the dramatic scene as the practical building block for building stories. The seminar will continue to explore character at a deeper level by introducing the concept of Irreconcilable Self. We’ll demonstrate the relationship of that character knowledge to the power of six-layered scenes that include three types of conflict combined with static setting, dynamic setting, and interactive setting.

With new character knowledge in hand, this seminar will combine the elements of seminars 3-6 to create complete, satisfying scenes, which might, in fact, be stories. To be precise, participants will combine dialectic pairs into tactic groups, tactic groups into conflict sets, and conflict sets into scenes that demonstrate emotional/psychological change in characters and prepare the reader to internalize subsequent scenes.

Exercises will include group creation of a dramatic scene and development of character understanding. The nested EPST and ED ACE tools will be reviewed and applied in a way that will allow participants to deconstruct and reconstruct scenes in their own work.


Fiction Fluency Master Seminar Series Part II: Building Stories from Character and Building Character from Stories

Controlling short fiction is a powerful building block to have as a foundation to building novels. Everything you do in a short story, you must also do in a novel. However, novels require a bit more. Short stories let writers learn faster, test technique more quickly, and build reputation. The previous seminars established creative habits, developed an understanding of how readers create stories in their hearts and minds from little black squiggles, built up a repertoire of story elements that can be combined in an infinite number of ways limited only by our own creativity, and built scenes that will allow the creation of larger works. The Fiction Fluency Master Series Part II group of seminars stacks up those building blocks in different configurations to create stories, short and long.

Master Seminar Five: Controlling Story and Theme in Very Short Character-driven Fiction

October 10-11

We scratch our chins and ask ourselves if it really is a story or not. This seminar provides answers to that question. A dramatic story is different from an essay, a poem, or an article in important ways.

This seminar introduces control statements as tools for designing, testing, and revising stories. Initially, the control statements will be demonstrated in the creation of flash fiction of between 500 and 1000 words. The first four layers of vertical story elements will be reviewed and demonstrated. Discovery of character from text and application of character to text will be explored. Stories developed during the seminar will consist of dialectic pairs that create tactic groups, which then create conflict sets, which in turn combine with setting to create a dramatic scene. The revised story that results from demonstration of the application of the control statements will create a satisfying feeling in the reader by creating resolution that has thematic meaning.

Exercises will include exploration of character relative to theme and translation of the character/theme relationship into agendas executed and resolved on stage. Premise, Theme, Irreconcilable Self, EPST, and ED ACE will be applied. Seminar participants will walk away able to apply these tools and techniques to their own work. Participants will know if they have a story or not. They always know what to do when the answer is “not.”

Master Seminar Six: Character Impact on Top-down or Bottom-up Short Story Development

November 7-8

Where to start? How to start? Having started, what comes next? This seminar answers these and other questions by beginning with a review of vertical and horizontal story elements.

We’ll discuss and demonstrate intuitive discovery of character and story. We’ll look at and practice the design process for character and story. A technique combining both and prototyping story for experimentation with scenes before full production will be demonstrated and used. Control statements, EPST, ED ACE, and character discovery tools will be used to create stories of 3-7 scenes. Several meta-descriptions of stories will be introduced, including act structure and the hero’s journey. If time allows, several full scenes from the newly created stories will be produced and, perhaps, revised.

This seminar will continue exploration of character depth and the interaction of cognitive and intuitive creative work.

Master Seminar Seven: Manifesting Character in Text: Voice, Tone, Distance, Subjectivity, Choice of Person

December 5-6

We’re sure it’s a story, but we aren’t sure if it’s good enough. Do we really want to spend hundreds of hours revising? How do we know?

This seminar examines existing, in-process stories and demonstrates techniques for revision based on intended or discovered themes, characters, and conflicts. The seminar demonstrates how to make choices regarding voice, tone, distance, subjectivity, and person both prior to composition and during revisions. The ripple-effect of changes and techniques for managing ripple effects will be demonstrated.

These techniques will be presented in the tenth session so that people who have followed along this far can revise existing stories and so that as we move into larger works problems can be anticipated and solved prior to committing hundreds of hours to a work in progress.

Fiction Fluency Master Seminar Series Part III: Character, Theme, and Transformation in Long Works

Everything we do in a short story, we also do in novels, but there’s more to do in a novel.

The Fiction Fluency Master Series Part III brings character, theme, and prototyping into focus for the creation of and revision of novelettes, novellas, and novels. Initially, tools and techniques will be presented as methods of developing powerful stories that have one main character who is also the only point of view character.

As the sequence of seminars continues, the same tools and techniques will be applied to more complex stories. Analysis of existing viral novels will be presented. Participants will use prototyping tools to discover, design, develop, or revise their own longer works.

Master Seminar Eight: Characters and Their Changes Develop Themes and Prove Premises

January 9-10, 2021

Characters or ideas not complex enough to support a full novel? Maybe. Maybe the themes of social and cultural context aren’t bringing out the full depth of character.

In this seminar, full character depth will be explored in the context of theme and premise. The seminar will include a review of vertical and horizontal story elements, and it will connect those elements to character transformation and themes.

An initial prototyping exercise will demonstrate management of story elements relative to one another for a single-POV novella or novel. A second exercise will demonstrate the same techniques applied to a multiple-POV novella or novel with additional attention paid to interactions between the POV threads and management of timelines and off-stage characters. Existing stories will be presented as examples, and new material will be prototyped. If time permits, anchor scenes will be developed and discussed.

Master Seminar Nine: Polish and Publish

February 15-16, 2021

We have written a great story, but it’s still not good enough. Even if it is, how do we sell it?

The final Fiction Fluency seminar focuses on revision processes using Control Statements, Reader Acquisition Patterns, ED ACE, re-visioning, found symbols, exploitation of refrains, screen tests, false scenes, extreme testing, and management of levers, ratchets, buttons, and motifs. Automated support for fast polishing techniques is also presented.

This seminar revisits many previous concepts from the perspective of creating emotional impact after the overall story is dramatically complete. This seminar is almost entirely about top-down revision processes. It demonstrates efficiencies based on understanding the difference between “dramatically complete” and “emotional best form.” The end of the seminar will include a discussion of markets and various approaches to them.


Eric Witchey – Instructor

Monthly Weekend Seminars Beginning March 14, 2020

Wordcrafters in Eugene Workshop
425 Lincoln St. | Eugene OR, 97401

Members $249 | Nonmember $279 per seminar

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