12th GWG CONFERENCE
postponed until the fall
(due to official directives about the Coronavirus)
Welcome to a weekend of workshops and panels led by authors, agents, editors, and publishers from around the world.
Our goal is to bring together English-language writers for high-level instruction, support, and creating community through workshops, discussions, and readings. Our conference instructors are experienced in teaching creative writing and committed to sharing their knowledge, skills, and perspectives on writing as an art and as a profession.
The conference venue is ten minutes from the center of Geneva.
Conference price is 250 CHF (Earlybird price 220 CHF – see Registration form). The fee includes:
Eight sessions, with a choice of writing workshops and Q+A panels.
A meet-and-greet cocktail with participants and instructors
All participants and instructors will have the opportunity to sell their books in the Conference bookstore (advance sign-up required).
NEW for 2020:
2020 CONFERENCE SCHEDULE
FRIDAY, 15 MAY
18:00: Meet-and-Greet Networking Cocktail
This is an opportunity for participants and instructors to eat, drink, and meet.
SATURDAY, 16 MAY
09:00: Check-In, Bookshop, Coffee Open
09:30: Welcome (keynote address), instructions, and Introductions
10:30: Session A
13:00: Session B
14:45: Session C
16:30: Q&A 1 / Session D
18:30: Dinner and Instructor Readings
SUNDAY, 17 MAY
09:00: Bookshop, Coffee Open
09:30: Session A
11:15: Session B
13:45: Session C
15:30: Q&A 2 / Session D
17:00: Closing remarks
2020 CONFERENCE INSTRUCTORS AND SPEAKERS
FICTION INSTRUCTOR: ROMESH GUNESEKERA
Romesh Gunesekera is the author of many acclaimed works of fiction including Reef, which was shortlisted for the 1994 Booker Prize, The Sandglass, winner of the inaugural BBC Asia Award, and The Match, a ground-breaking cricket novel.
His debut collection of stories, Monkfish Moon, like his dystopian novel Heaven’s Edge, was a New York Times Notable Book. Noontide Toll, a cycle of linked stories published in 2014, captured a vital moment in post-war Sri Lanka. His latest novel, Suncatcher, returns to an earlier era and a story of divided loyalties and endangered friendship in the Ceylon of the 1960s.
His fiction has been translated into over a dozen languages and he is the recipient of many awards including a Premio Mondello in Italy. He was born in Colombo and lives in London. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. His writing workshops in Europe have been listed in the top ten by the Sunday Times and the Telegraph. He is also the co-author of the Writers’ & Artists’ Companion to Novel Writing.
He was the chair of judges for the 2015 Commonwealth Short Story Prize and has also judged many other prizes including the Caine Prize and Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists 2013. This year he is judging the Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award. For more information visit www.romeshgunesekera.com or connect with him on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (@RomeshG).
2020 CONFERENCE WORKSHOPS
Beginnings in Fiction with Allison Lynn
The beginning of a story or novel not only needs to capture the reader's attention, but at its best should forecast much of the story/novel to come—its plot, characters, and major concerns. In this workshop we'll look at excellent examples of classic (and not-so-classic) beginnings. And then, in exercises that use these examples as jumping-off points, we'll write a number of new beginnings of our own.
Scene Construction with Betsy Tobin
Scenes are an essential component of both fiction and non-fiction writing. How does a writer decide which scenes to include, and at which point to enter and exit the scene? Further, how do we enter and exit the scene with economy and precision so as to maximize the scene’s impact? Please bring along a scene from a work in progress, or an idea for a scene you would like to write.
First Draft, Then What? with Romesh Guneskera
Each of the three sessions will focus on a different aspect of improving your fiction after the first draft. For the second and third sessions, please bring 2 printed, typed copies of your own fiction (300-350 words). These will be essential for participating in sessions 2 and 3. The sessions will involve discussion, writing exercises, and sharing work on the following topics:
Session 1: Finding Your Story
Where do you begin and where do you end, and how do you find the narrative arc of your story? What do you need to know about the end of your story before you begin? How do you approach a novel as opposed to a short story?
Session 2: Point of View
What’s the fuss about POV? How do you decide? Does it matter? What do you need to think about with POV?
Session 3: Revising & Editing
Is it the road to perfection, or disaster? How do you improve your story through revision and editing? How do you edit your own story? How do you know when to stop?
Telling Your Best Story with Susan Jane Gilman
Sometimes we have a true story we’re dying to tell, but we’re unsure how to write it. This hands-on workshop will focus on the essentials of writing a memoir – what makes a good story, how to structure a compelling narrative, what to show and what to tell, and the broader issues of what’s involved in turning a private experience into a public work. Through writing exercises, participants will get a chance to bring their material to life.
Only Your Point of View with Colin Grant
Have you ever encountered a line of argument that ends “that may be your point of view, but...”? Our memories are faulty yet we rely on them for underscoring the truth in creative nonfiction writing. In an immersive workshop, Colin Grant explores how you can recover or deepen elusive memories, and how you might embrace dialogue and artifacts such as letters, emails, postcards and photos in your non-fiction writing. He’ll encourage you to utilize a range of literary tools to introduce other points of view to enrich your real-life stories, biographical or other forms of creative nonfiction.
Narratives of the Unconscious (all genres) with Susan M. Tiberghien
What and where is narrative? Margaret Atwood writes, “Going into narrative is a dark road”. We will find our way into the dark, into the unconscious, and bring our stories into the light. Reading examples from Margaret Atwood, Toni Morrison, Orhan Pamuk, Terry Tempest Williams, we will craft our stories into journal entries, essays, short stories, poems. Our voices will bear witness in our turbulent times.
Poetry and Politics with Carmen Bugan
Joseph Brodsky said that poetry and politics have nothing in common except the letters ‘p’ and ‘o’, suggesting perhaps that politics is too much of a public act, in direct opposition to the poetic act, which takes root in private experience. He insisted on protecting lyric language from the pollution of deformed political discourse, which often feels manipulative. But what happens if political realities shape and change the way we live our private, individual lives? Is there a language that feels artistically appropriate as it takes on the subject of politics? What is the difference between verse propaganda and poetry that shows how politics affect the inner landscapes of our experience? What constitutes political poetry? Can poetry articulate the damage done by politics? In this workshop we will read several poems that tackle political subjects, to identify the language of poetry that can take on difficult subjects, without losing its power to move and delight. We will also generate new work with the help of several writing prompts.
Accidentally On Purpose: Using Chance to Generate New Poetry with Sharon Mesmer
A “chance operation” is a way of beginning a poem that leaves part of your compositional method to chance, to the random coming-together of elements which, ideally, produce surprising new images, ideas and language. While a chance operation can be almost anything (like using the I-Ching or Google search results), we will work with two collaborative methods: word rounds and cut-ups. With word rounds, our group will generate spontaneous three-word phrases that can be incorporated into the in-class writing; with cut-ups, we will assemble brief fragments of other poets’ texts which can be edited or expanded to create work. Beat novelist William Burroughs and artist Brion Gysin termed this the “third mind method” — the first mind being the assembler, the second being the original author(s), and the third being the strange organizational principle that allows the work come together in fortuitous ways. All you’ll need is two sheets of paper, a writing implement, and your playful sensibility. Before beginning, we’ll talk a little about the history of chance operations.
Historical Drama in Theatre: Retelling the Past with Juliet Gilkes Romero
Does historical drama have a duty to be factually accurate? The art form comes with an ocean of challenges. How do storytellers navigate these stormy waters? In this workshop you will learn how to create drama that is both historically authentic and commercially appealing. Exercises will also guide you in the creation of compelling characters rooted in historical research.
YOUNG ADULT WORKSHOP
Finding Your Young Adult Voice with Olivia Wildenstein
After a solid plot, voice is a pivotal factor in snagging an agent or a reader. This workshop is geared toward novel writers who wish to write to the Young Adult market (which is also read by many adults) and better understand it. The focus of the course will be put on craft: prose and dialogue. Wildenstein will help you find and polish your voice, and build your novel through plotting, pantsing, and editing. She will also share her experience of selling YA books in the independent and traditional markets.
The workshop will involve short exercises, as well as group discussions of excerpts she’ll bring along. Participants will work individually; once the writing exercises have been completed all will be encouraged, at some stage of the workshop, to read from what they have worked on.
Writing tools needed: laptop or notebook and pen. Working brain.
SCI-FI / FANTASY WORKSHOP
The Foundations of World-building Culture with Jeanette Ng
Led by Astounding Award Winner Jeannette Ng, this world building workshop will examine cultures and the base assumptions we make when building them in fiction. Through a series of guided writing exercises, it will explore the relationship between character and culture, how to avoid the temptation of "Alien Christmas" style cultural palette swaps, and whether "universal" cultural themes and stories really exist—and if so, how to write them!
EDITING & PUBLISHING WORKSHOP
Plotting Your Personal Path to Publishing and Marketing with April Eberhardt
In this workshop, Literary Change Agent and Author Advocate April Eberhardt will discuss the changes within the industry that enable authors to plot their own successful paths to publication outside of the traditional industry. We'll examine the multiple publishing alternatives available today and how they differ, particularly in relation to authors' individual goals, dreams, timetable and budget. April will also present a wide range of marketing approaches available to authors, including social media, but also a variety of "personal touch" initiatives that can yield excellent results. The workshop will arm authors with a plan for publication and an effective, enjoyable marketing plan.
How to Write a Query Letter with Tom Witcomb
Your pitch letter is the first thing an agent sees - it sets the mood for your relationship with your future champion. So why does it seem so hard to write one? I thought the book was supposed to be the hard bit? We're here to bust some myths, and work with you to develop the perfect query letter to help you put your best foot forward on your publishing journey.
SOCIAL MEDIA WORKSHOP
Social Media as a Force for Good with Denise Nickerson
To be successful in today's literary world, even the most private of writers should have a meaningful online presence. But how do we make our voices heard in the chaos of the web? What can writers do to maximize their positive social media impact? What are some strategies we can use to fit posting to social media into our schedules? How should we choose digital platforms? How should we use images and videos in social media? This active writing lab is for any writer who would like to know how to make the most of her/his presence online, create a simple strategy, learn the basics of content creation and personal branding, and overcome fears. If we have time or the participants wish, we can also focus on the practical aspects of self-publishing and blogging. Complete beginners to experts are welcome.