Algonkian Writers Conference - The First Prep Letter

FYI, below is the first Algonkian Writers Conference prep letter we send to writers registered in our novel workshops. The articles that follow are a must read for productive novel workshop discussions and assignments. Most were authored by Michael Neff, Algonkian director:

We have some initial assignments and readings for you, designed to introduce you to the realities of writing a publishable manuscript for a commercial market. Whether or not you are able to utilize all of the information for your particular project remains to be seen, however, you will definitely acquire useful craft and premise knowledge that might well take you in new directions. We hope that you will be open to learning and evolving both your project and your writing.

For your first assignment, go to your nearest library or book superstore. Read the first ten pages of at least five new literary novels (no genre, i.e, SF, mystery, etc.). Once you've spent a few hours, take out a laptop, or sheet of paper, and note bullet by bullet precisely what the author did within those first ten pages to make the protagonist appear sympathetic, original and interesting.

For your second assignment, examine the book jacket of each novel. Write the book jacket you would like to see for your novel (see your pitch model assignment upcoming). Ask yourself after you write it: WILL THIS MAKE SOMEONE WANT TO BUY MY BOOK? Note: limit the number of words to the average number you count on the jackets. Try to limit to 150-200 words.

For your third assignment, you must read the articles below concerning important market issues and fiction writing elements that will be discussed at the event. They are found at AuthorSalon.Com, a writer website affiliated with Algonkian Writers Conference events.

The Six Act, Two Goal Novel (a new outline for tight plotting)

A Smart Dose of Antagonistic Force

Crossing the Epiphany Line (what every serious writer must accomplish)

Caitlin’s Guide to Precise Comparables (best article ever written on this crucial issue)

Strong Narrative Through Synergy: Samples of Powerful Fiction Narrative

"A Study in Third Person Point of View in Fiction and Novel Writing" by Michael Neff

Narrative : From Passive Voice to Eudora and Ray (all AS writers must achieve Level 3)

"To Be" or Not? Too Much "Was" Will Hurt Your MS

The Ultimate Narrative Block Buster: The PDQ (narrative think-tanking)

Literary Comparisons to Demonstrate The Creation of Competitive Fiction Narrative


Algonkian Writers Conference


  1. I went to this conference in 2009. I faithfully completed all of the pre-conf "homework". I still drag out my notebook when I'm in the polishing stages of anything I write. It was like tough love for writers. I'd go again in a heartbeat if it were permissible.

  2. Anyone going to the December Algonkian Writers Conference workshop outside DC?


  3. Thanks you guys. I completed the old prep letter but this one has led me to new revelations. Especially like the Six Act novel outline.

  4. God bless Algonkian Writers Conference.

    I've taken three and counting. My series is taking shape.