Help with Plot, Character, Writing, Publishing: For You or Your Writer's Group
Latest Retreat Information here! Inspiration and Insight at San Miguel, with Alicia Rasley -- Great deal for a week of writing help and great food and culture.
Writer’s Coach, Plot Consultant, and Workshop Leader: Alicia Rasley
You have a great story idea, or great desire to write a story. But maybe something is stopping you, or you've become blocked, or you just don't know how and where to start.
I can help. I'm an award-winning novelist, a university-level writing instructor, and an internationally known writing coach. With affirmative advice and a recognition of your "ownership" of your story, I'll guide you to exploring both the surface and the depth of your writing-- your plot, your prose, your presentation, your themes-- to improve and intensify the reading and writing experience. It will be momentous, profound-- and helpful!
One-Week Total Story Retreat: $5000 plus expenses.
I am your story consultant for a week!
This can be adapted for larger groups, smaller groups, and individuals. Here is an example of a typical retreat situation.
- Morning: Structured classes, addressing level-appropriate story concerns.
- Afternoon: One-on-one and small group consulting.
- Evening: Plot/character brainstorming, pitch and focus consultation.
Your choice of levels (these can be mixed):
- Groundwork level, for writers early in their writing experience, or mixed groups.
- Masters level, for experienced writers with completed and/or published stories—a “body of work.”
Your choice of focus:
- Full story development (before story is done)
- Deep drafting and binge-writing (while the story is being written)
- Complete story revision and reinvention (after a draft is done)
See list of possible workshops below, but I can adapt them or invent new ones to suit your situation.
Weekend Retreats. $2500 plus expenses.
Two days to a great story. Four 4-hour sessions, or two 8-hour sessions. Evening brainstorming, coaching, or small group work if desired.
One-day Workshops. $1400 plus expenses.
Two 4-hour sessions, or one 4-hour class and one 4-hour brainstorming/coaching session.
Half-day Workshops. $750 plus expenses.
Four-hour morning or afternoon session. (Can include a brainstorming dinner session for no extra charge.)
Partial list of topics:
(I can customize or create new for your group—just ask!):
The Three Acts in Dramatic Plotting (Groundwork level)
Since it was defined by Aristotle, the three-act dramatic structure has created conflict, built tension, and effected resolution in novels and drama works. In this workshop, we’ll work through the three acts of the story, identifying and designing the major turning points, and charting the character and plot journey.
Turning the Three Acts into Nine Turning Points-- and a Powerful Plot (Groundwork level)
Once you have sectioned the plot into three acts, we can work on coming up with dramatic and plot-changing turning point events that will power up your pacing and intensify the reader experience.
Character Channeling: Journey, Motivation, and Goal (Groundwork level)
Stories start with characters—and in this workshop, we’ll get to know our characters from the inside out, by exploring their journeys, motivations, and goals, then using what we’ve learned to direct the plot.
Building Better Scenes (Groundwork level)
Scenes are what readers remember long after they’ve forgotten plot twists and character names. This workshop will help you imagine and design vivid, plot-changing, character-deepening, reader-fascinating scenes.
Beyond Purple Prose: Writing Emotion without Sentimentality (Master’s level)
The key to making the reader feel is to create emotion without emotion words, through powerful structure, incisive action, and subtle subtext. In this workshop, you’ll learn why when the character cries, the reader won’t—and how to evoke emotion rather than just describing it.
Theme: The Glue that Connects Your Story (Master's level)
Theme is the message, moral, or idea that emerges from the experience of reading your story. Whether your theme is obvious or subtextual, positive or negative, this workshop can help you use the theme not to preach but to unify the story and make it more meaningful and coherent. We'll use the technique of the dialectic and devices such as motifs and props to bind your theme to the story, making the reading experience more complete and satisfying. This is a subtle yet powerful way to take good writing and make it great.
Pacing Your Novel for Greater Drama (Master’s level)
“Fast” isn’t the only pace! Take this workshop to determine what pacing is best to produce the experience you want the reader to have, whether exciting, contemplative, or emotional.
Revising and Reinventing Your Novel (Master’s level)
Do you have a book you love, that you can’t give up on… but just hasn’t sold, or just doesn’t work? This workshop will give you strategies to reinvent the story to keep its essential “center” but work better for the new publishing realities.
Point of View and Your Story (Groundwork level)
The author of the POV book will work with you to define the POV approach that’s best for your story and refine your prose and scenes to give the reader just the right experience. No rules, just tools. There is no “right POV,” just the one that’s right for your story.
Dialogue Dynamics (Groundwork level)
Dialogue isn’t just small talk, but an essential element in your plot action and character interaction. This workshop will help you create your character conversations, find their internal and external voices, and use their dialogue to cause change in your plot.
Discovering and Refining Your Writing Voice (Master’s level)
Readers might buy one book because of your plot. But having done that, they’ll buy all the rest of your books because of your voice. This workshop will help you do what many say can’t be done: Creating your writing voice and refining it to energize your stories.
Being, Doing, Becoming – The Heroic Flaw and The Heroic Journey (Groundwork level).
Nature abhors perfection– and so does the story.
Fiction, like nature, is all about change. So in a story, heroism requires more than being perfectly heroic, and even more than committing heroic acts. It also requires the ability to change under pressure, to grow into someone better even if it hurts.
In the same way, creating a heroic character requires more of the author than merely creating a perfectly brave protagonist and inventing exciting events to showcase those powers and skills. It requires providing the protagonist the need to change, the courage to change, the opportunity to change, and the motivation to change.
The imperfect protagonist makes the three-dimensional story possible. The character moving through the external plot is a story of only two dimensions. The internal journey, the process towards psychological or emotional or life change, provides the depth that takes this story into three dimensions.
In this interactive workshop, we’ll explore how you can determine your own character’s heroic flaw, and use it to develop a meaningful opening, a powerful journey, and a dramatic and satisfying ending.
Surviving and Thriving in the New Publishing Industry (Groundwork level)
The internet has changed everything, especially in publishing. Let’s talk about how to adjust to the new realities of the post-Amazon bookworld, and how to define your own success and achieve it by letting go of the old paradigms while keeping what’s essential about story and yourself as a writer.
Thank you for considering me for your next event.
I love helping writers find their inner brilliance and unleash every ounce of their story's power!
-- Alicia Rasley