Fiction Fluency 2023-24 Schedule

The Fiction Fluency Mastery Series is a 9-month online program. 

All classes are via Zoom once a month: Saturday, 1–5 pm and Sunday, 9 am-1 pm Pacific

As writers under his tutelage, Eric guides us on the creation, revision and support of the reader in their efforts and willingness to go with us as we cultivate our craft. That has been invaluable to me.

– Tai

Fiction Fluency student

Step-by-Step Building Blocks of Dramatic Fiction

Learn the core developmental tools and patterns for producing stories that have a strong emotional impact on your readers.

Seminar 1: Characterization in Dramatic Scenes

Dec 2-3, 2023 

Have you ever written a strong piece of writing and then looked at it and wondered if you wrote a story or just a scene?

We’ll explore the dramatic scene as the practical building block for building stories.

You’ll learn about the character concept of Irreconcilable Self. And how to demonstrate the character through the power of six-layered scenes–including three types of conflict combined with static setting, dynamic setting, and interactive setting. 

You’ll learn Eric’s nested EPST and ED ACE tools as well as how to deconstruct and reconstruct scenes in your own work. And you’ll create a dramatic scene with your cohort group with these new tools. 

Seminar 2: Deeper Character Development and Stronger Impact through Conflict Sets

Jan 6-7, 2024

“OMG! They want me to cut 30%!” 

If they did, or if your beta readers are skimming, or your mother’s eyes glaze over while reading, chances are good this is the weekend that will turn things around. 

We’ll examine the vertical and horizontal story elements you learned about in the fundamentals classes more deeply and explore three types of conflict and how they interact inside a scene. 

You’ll do writing exercises on how to design, discover, or exploit conflict by understanding and evaluating text through the lenses of three types of conflict. 

We’ll continue to examine characters and their relationships to risk, stakes, and consequence. We’ll use both EPST and ED ACE for analysis and revision. 

You’ll learn various techniques for exploration of character as well as using character emotional states to create indirect dialog.

Seminar 3: Character Definition and Impact on In-scene Agendas and Tactics

Feb 3-4, 2024

“You have beautiful prose, but….” 

Not a letter you want to receive from the editor. 

If your characters don’t reveal their differences through the choices they make, they’re all the same character to the reader/editor. 

We’ll explore how characters interact when faced with mutually exclusive agendas on a choice-by-choice level. You’ll learn to develop characters who have personal history, unique psychology and physiology, and well-developed desires that change as their circumstances change. 

You’ll demonstrate how and why their attempts to achieve results are unique to them in the context of a dramatic moment. 

You’ll learn how to combine the emotional (dialectic pairs) 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. 

You’ll apply Emotional/Psychological State Transformations (EPSTs) and ED ACE tools and techniques. 

Your writing exercises will include producing and revising new text.

Seminar 4: Character Influence and Line-by-line Emotional Contrasts

March 9-10, 2024

Your critique group said your story was “slow through here” or “she wasn’t a sympathetic character.” 

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. 

You’ll learn how our perception mechanisms translate words on a page into recognizable emotional contrasts–and how to recognize, design, analyze, and exploit opposing energies (dialectic pairs) by understanding the character that experiences them. 

You’ll do writing exercises in very short narrative description and dialog using the ED ACE tool, the Because-Because technique, manipulation of implication, and management of reader projection.

We’ll also do a full review of all the aspects of scene development that have been explored in the last several months.

Fiction Fluency provides an experience that helps writers evoke the reader’s responses that make for satisfying reading. If that’s your goal, this series will help you. 

Eric presents a boatload of information which includes many, many techniques that clearly work. He’s willing to answer questions between classes and to evaluate homework and make suggestions. His dedication to being sure his students are served is excellent.

– Carol

Fiction Fluency student

Building Stories from Character and Building Character from Stories

Learn to use the building block of dramatic fiction in different configurations to create stories, short and long.

Seminar 5: Flash Fiction: Controlling Story and Theme in Very Short Character-driven Fiction

April 6-7, 2024

Do you ever ask yourself if what you’ve written really is a story or not?

Learn the answer to that question.

A dramatic story is different from an essay, a poem, or an article in important ways. You’ll learn about control statements as tools for designing, testing, and revising stories. 

Writing exercises include creating flash fiction between 500 and 1,000 words to learn how to use control statements.

We’ll review and demonstrate the first four layers of vertical story elements as well, and explore discovery of character from text and application of character to text.

You’ll develop stories using dialectic pairs that create tactic groups, which then create conflict sets, which in turn combine with setting to create a dramatic scene. And you’ll use control statements during revision to create a satisfying feeling in your readers by giving them story resolutions with thematic significance. 

Additional writing exercises will explore character relative to theme and translation of the character/theme relationship into agendas executed and resolved on stage. You’ll learn to apply premise, Theme, Irreconcilable Self, EPST, and ED ACE in your own stories.

Seminar 6: Short Stories: Character Impact on Top-down or Bottom-up Short Story Development

May 4-5, 2024 

Where to start? How to start? Having started, what comes next? 

Learn the answers to these and other questions. We’ll begin with a review of vertical and horizontal story elements, then discuss intuitive discovery of character and story, and design process for character and story.

You’ll learn a technique combining both and prototyping story for experimentation with scenes, and use control statements, EPST, ED ACE, and character discovery tools will to create stories of 3-7 scenes. 

You’ll also be introduced to several time saving metadescription techniques for story development. And we’ll continue exploration of character depth and the interaction of cognitive and intuitive creative work.

Seminar 7: Manifesting Character in Text: Scene Sequences, Agenda Stacks, Voice, Tone, Distance, and Subjectivity

June 1-2, 2024

Now you’re sure it’s a story. But you’re not sure if it’s good enough. 

Do you really want to spend hundreds of hours revising? How do you know what the story really needs?

You’ll examine existing, in-process stories and learn techniques for revision based on intended or discovered themes, characters, and conflicts. 

You’ll learn how to make choices regarding voice, tone, distance, subjectivity, and person both prior to composition and during revisions. 

Eric will demonstrate and teach the ripple-effect of changes and shorthand techniques for managing ripple effects so you can revise existing stories. This will set you up to be able to move into larger works, being able to anticipate and solve problems before committing hundreds of hours to a work in progress.

Eric Witchey offers a chance for writers to learn and expand their writing craft in such a way they can internalize the techniques.

I’m finding the techniques to be more and more accessible to me on a subconscious level. And that’s the point really, isn’t it? Fiction Fluency — like a language — automatic and at one’s fingertips.

– Peggy

Fiction Fluency student

Character, Theme, and Transformation in Long Works

Learn to bring character, theme, and novel analysis into focus to create and revise powerful stories.

Seminar 8: Movements, Parallel Stories, Multiple POVs, and Developing Themes to Prove Premises

June 29-30, 2024 

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

In this class we’ll explore full character depth in the context of theme and premise, as well as review vertical and horizontal story elements, connecting them to character transformation and themes. 

Writing exercises include an initial prototyping exercise to demonstrate managing story elements relative to one another in a single-POV novella or novel, as well as a second exercise to demonstrate the same techniques in a multiple-POV story. We’ll pay additional attention 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, we’ll develop and discuss anchor scenes.

Seminar 9: Polish and Publish

July 20-21, 2024

You’ve written a great dramatically complete story, but it’s still not good enough. Even if it is, how do you sell it? 

During this final weekend of classes we’ll focus 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.

You’ll learn about automated support for fast polishing techniques and we’ll revisit many previous concepts from the perspective of creating emotional impact after the overall story is dramatically complete. 

This weekend’s classes are almost entirely about top-down revision processes, demonstrating efficiencies based on understanding the difference between “dramatically complete” and “emotional best form.” 

We’ll also talk about publication markets and various approaches to them

“My favorite aspect of the class was understanding cognition and how it pertains to storytelling, particularly the rule of affecting the emotion of the reader and how to trigger it.”

– Eric (different Eric ; )

Fiction Fluency student

“Fiction Fluency with Eric was amazing. He has a deep knowledge of story and a strong desire to share it. He tries to understand and meet the individual needs of each student.” 

– Rosalind

Fiction Fluency student

My favorite part was consistent exposure to Eric’s knowledge. The way he’s able to break down fiction craft is insightful and elucidating. 

He’s able to explain his system in a way that makes it accessible to writers at many different levels.

Not only that, but his positive messages of encouragement are inspiring. 

This class has helped me consider new ways to think about my writing, both in terms of practice and approach. It has given me valuable tools that will sustain my writing for as long as I am writing.

– Andrew

Fiction Fluency student

Eric Witchey’s essays and classes

From Ink to Impact: Unraveling the Healing Potential of Writing

Creating stories that resonate deeply and linger in the mind long after reading is a journey of learning, not just about literary techniques, but about the profound depth of the human heart. Whether they realize it or not, writers who touch those depths become gifts to humanity. Yet, their journey to artistic expression isn’t an easy one. They must navigate the tricky terrains of the teaching landscape, push past negativity, and continue learning despite challenges. Their motivation? A burning desire to make sense of chaos and pain, and the unyielding belief that their words have the power to heal.

Continue Reading From Ink to Impact: Unraveling the Healing Potential of Writing

The Writer’s Art of Beginning and Becoming

Even veteran writers continually struggle with questions like ‘How do I become a better writer? Where do I start? What should I write?’ Sometimes we forget that the answers are deceptively simple: ‘By writing. With the writing. And whatever you write.’ These truths remind us that writing molds us, making us the writers we aspire to be. Start anywhere, with any idea. The key is to keep writing. Just as it was for the ancient shamans, practice, experimentation, and curiosity shape us into storytellers. Embrace the act of writing. It creates the writer.

Continue Reading The Writer’s Art of Beginning and Becoming

Brains Don’t Do Random

How do we abandon the concept of being good, or getting it right? How do we train ourselves to produce stories on command? Those are hard questions to answer, since no two writers are quite the same. But brains do have some common characteristics. Brains are all about recognizing patterns. Where no pattern exists, the…

Continue Reading Brains Don’t Do Random