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Author Topic: Algonkian Writer Conferences  (Read 30528 times)

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paulawilliams

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Re: Algonkian Writer Conferences
« Reply #15 on: March 03, 2011, 12:36:21 AM »

Attending the Algonkian Writers Conference at Fisherman's Wharf twice and two of the three-day conferences has been nothing short of a life-changing experience. I expected sharp inspection of my premise and got it. I wanted practical application of craft and got it. And most importantly, I needed the truth about my writing, and got it . . . and more.  The focus of the five-day workshop at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco led me to fashion my novel based on the market. Through the direction of the facilitator, Michael Neff, I've created a viable commercial project and pitched my premises to various agents, several of which want to read my finished MSs. As a result, I'm creating novels I can be proud of and which will be a commercially viable. The Algonkian Writers Conference is an investment in time and money I've never regretted.
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jitaska

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Re: Algonkian Writer Conferences
« Reply #16 on: March 04, 2011, 08:27:41 PM »

I attended Michael Neff’s Algonkian Writer’s Conference in December and the NYC Pitch and I found both very worthwhile. The emphasis is on how to make your manuscript marketable. Michael Neff spent an incredible amount of time and energy working with each attendee honing our plots and showing how to enhance the level of writing.  The Algonkian Writer’s Conference Virginia was a very full five days of good value for any writer who wants to be a better one and a saleable one. Oh, and I can’t end without saying that the setting on the banks of the Potomac and the comfortable cabins, the good company of fellow writers, who have become good friends, and the excellent food, were well worth the money.  Joan  :D
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Dashwood55

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Re: Algonkian Writer Conferences
« Reply #17 on: March 07, 2011, 09:00:34 PM »

I just got back from the Algonquian writers Conference in San Francisco.  I found the five days to be well organized, helpful and really worth the time and money it took to attend.  In addition to working on our writing, we were able to meet with five literary agents and pitch our book ideas as well as meeting with a publisher and a publicist who discussed the market, publicity and pre production tasks to make our work sell.  I came away energized and ready to put Michael Neff’s suggestions into place.  I would recommend this conference highly to anyone wanting real world access to publishers and agents, as well as getting the pitch and pitch concept down cold.  Steve Heinrich – Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
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NealAllen

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Re: Algonkian Writer Conferences
« Reply #18 on: March 10, 2011, 02:30:44 PM »

To me, the scorecard mentality for the Algonkian conference isn’t reflective of its real value. I didn’t go into it expecting to get published, and I came out of it with some important reality checks and other helpful knowledge that ultimately can make me a better and more publishable writer.

So here’s what I found I had joined: In the room were fifteen fiction writers, mostly unpublished and mostly genre writers -- mystery, YA, vampire, zombie, historical, fictionalized memoir, horror/mystery -- and a few literary fiction writers.

Michael Neff had us do some warm-up exercises before and during the first day, and then we delivered our first draft pitches. All of them needed work. Shortening, tightening, adding, whatever. More important, it was clear that the plotting and characterizations in the books in most cases needed similar work. Refining the pitch became a litmus test for the dramatic urgency and general marketability of the text. That was the unspoken theme for the next few days. If something was flawed to him, Neff’s attitude was that it was a great opportunity to find a substitute for the flaw, and make the book even more marketable. In most – not all – cases, the writer saw eye to eye, and in some cases clearly had been unwilling to face up to a bad decision that something inside them knew was a bad decision. That’s why we all need readers and editors!

Yes, most of my fellow writers thought the point of the pitch was to get the agents to buy into the book’s concept. I was probably in a minority in not caring so much about that. But most of the value that I noticed that people actually got was seeing where their books were flawed in tone, voice, plotting, arc or characterizations. All of that was visible without anyone reading a single passage from their manuscript.

By the second day when the agents started to appear, most of the pitches were ready. The agents were struck by how many good pitches they were hearing. They were dropping their cards, and coming up to individuals afterward and asking to see the manuscripts. Just as telling, when the agents were skeptical of a pitch, they were in amazing lockstep with what Michael Neff had predicted and talked about with each of us as we refined our pitches beforehand. The weaknesses he saw, if they were still in the pitches, turned off the agents. So much in publishing is fashion, especially in genre publishing. Fairies are done. Zombies are on their last legs. Oh, that’s a twist to vampires I haven’t heard; show me more. For YA to work, the lead girl has to be recognizable here and here and here. Is your protagonist doing that? Those sorts of things. I pitched literary fiction, and the questions were the same kind.

As writers we would like to think that our rhetoric is most important. The writing is what sells, right? But agents have two gates: Plot and writing. The value of the pitch is that it persuades them that this beautifully written manuscript won’t devolve into 200 pages of angst and interior dialogue without action. Their main task day and night is to read and read and read. The pitch gives them the OK to take a longer chance on a book.

And while a hugely flawed plot can’t be improved by an editor, badly flawed writing can. There isn’t such a thing as a “good enough” plot. But there is such a thing as “good enough” writing. Go to a bookstore and pick up the books with the glossy jackets.

Meanwhile, Michael Neff took us through a lot of pithy, great readings and notes on how to outline and manage plot. I came away with five or six tools for making my process of plotting and writing more efficient. How many workshops offer that? If you’re like me, it had been many years since I refreshed my vocabulary for plotting and characterization. Neff has some brilliant little tools. They integrate well with the pitch refinement, too.

He’s no Marilynne Robinson or Bharati Mukherjee, two writers I’ve been lucky enough to study with. They helped me learn how to build a sentence, and maintain a voice. But I daresay that a much smaller percentage of the people in one of their workshops will eventually publish a novel than people in Neff’s. Part of it’s self-selection. Just being that interested in an agent-centric workshop means the writer is that hungry to produce a readable, publishable book. Lots of literary workshop participants are stuck in wanting to be a better writer qua beautiful phrases, of wanting to be more self-expressive, and those can be identities that don’t result in writing that carries the interest of a general audience. Readers have expectations, and a pitch exercise hones the book to the readers’ expectations.

I think the agents probably do automatically give a better look at a manuscript from a client of one of Neff’s workshops. But that’s not the whole value. I got some good practice on my chops during the workshop, and immediately afterward started churning out stories with much more efficiency than before. I didn’t expect to get a book published from attending, but I have no doubt that I will get a book published quicker because of what I heard and learned.
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Lance Charnes

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Re: Algonkian Writer Conferences
« Reply #19 on: March 12, 2011, 01:26:23 PM »

Enough already, people! One or two almost-identical gushing reviews would've been enough. After twelve, I have to wonder if I've asked about a cult.

I look forward to your comments on some of the 1278 other posts on this forum.
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linda

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Re: Algonkian Writer Conferences
« Reply #20 on: March 12, 2011, 11:24:45 PM »

As a long time member of this site, I find the sudden influx of "one post" new members who are only posting about the Algonkian Writer Conference to be suspicious, at best.

If I'd had any inclination to go to the conference, these posts have certainly persuaded me not to.   When a group of new members start posting on the wonderful qualities of a conference, and only about that conference, I get the distinct feeling I'm part of a marketing blitz. 

This is especially true when one mentions that they found us on Google.  Apparently they're googling the conference and then commenting on it in other sites.

I know I have a tendency to be suspicious, but I don't feel that I'm wrong in this case.  The Algonkian Writer Conference is definitely OFF my list of conferences that I would attend, or ones that I would recommend.

Linda
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MarciaPost

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Re: Algonkian Writer Conferences
« Reply #21 on: March 15, 2011, 07:12:17 PM »

This is all my fault.  A small group of people were asked to respond to the negative comment and it went viral, got out of control, that's all.  These views were all freely expressed, and all by distinct individuals who actually attended the events. 

Please tell the regulars here we sincerely apologize!!! 
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Bob Mueller

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Re: Algonkian Writer Conferences
« Reply #22 on: March 15, 2011, 07:29:58 PM »

Let's go ahead and call this one done.

I sincerely invite our newest members to poke around and make themselves at home. This site is about writing, and we welcome discussion about writing.
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Bob

Sometimes it takes therapy to put the past behind you. Other times, it takes a 20 gallon trash bag and a couple of cinder blocks.
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