Schedule: 2024 WCLA

(Please note that this is an in-person event. We at Writing Day Workshops plan both online/virtual as well as in-person events. This next WCLA is an in-person event happening in Los Angeles on May 4, 2024. See you there.)

* * * * *


Agent pitches and critique consultations overlap with the sessions below. The schedule of presentation topics below is subject to change and updates:

9:30 – 10:30: Session 1

1. The Do’s, Don’ts, and Everything In Between, of Query Letters. Query letters are often times the first chance an agent will see your writing. How can you make the moment count? In this workshop, a literary agent will share her experience reading many query letters and teach participants how to make their query letter stand out in the right way and avoid standing out in the wrong! We will go through the most important part of submissions (hint: it is following guidelines) and how a good hook can sell a project.

2. Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing: How to Build Worlds that Readers (and Publishers) Will Love. The heart of science fiction is world building. In this workshop we’ll talk about the layers and the problems of building successful worlds for your story, everything from how to calculate the orbit of your planet, to how to build a city, to how to build a working society for that city, and even how to give your characters an internal world that matches the richness of your carefully-crafted external world and how all that fits into a well-turned plot.

3. The Key to Writing Great Characters: Emotional Filters. A common reason for editors to reject a book is they don’t feel anything for the main character. Getting a reader to empathize with the protagonist is often a trick. This workshop explores the role of emotions and emotional filters in book and how to use emotion to make characters likeable and interesting.

10:45 – 11:50: Session 2

1. From A to Z: Strategies for Plotting & Pacing Tightly. In this class, a literary agent will begin with a detailed introduction to the three-act screenwriting structure that lends itself to theoretical preparation for novel-writing and outlining, and then identify different tools for plot consideration, outlining, as well as writing that permit novelists to plot and pace their work tightly. More in-depth plotting theory introduces a series of key moments and movements in the evolution of the plot trajectory, and this will class will provide an introduction to them. The goal will be to provide some theory, an introduction to key tools, and an analysis of case studies from award-winning or bestselling novels.

2. So You’ve Finished Writing and Revising Your YA/MG Novel. Now What? An in-depth look at how to get your book published, from joining the writing community and crafting a head-turning query letter, to finding the right agent and surviving the submission process. While this class will focus on the route to traditional publication, we will also discuss the pros and cons of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing, and provide resources for those who want to know more about self-publishing, as well as online and print resources to help give your book its best fighting chance in the world of traditional publishing.

3. Mystery vs. Suspense: Understanding the Differences and Using Those Tools to Succeed. Mystery is “whodunit?” Suspense is “whentheygonnadoit?” Okay, that’s done. Now. What does that mean and how do we get it on the page? We will be talking about the similarities and the differences of two of the most popular forms of crime fiction, and how you can make them work for you.

11:50 – 1:15: Lunch on Your Own

You have 85 minutes on your own to break and eat.

1:15 – 2:30: Session 3

1. “Writers Got Talent”—a Page 1 Critique Fest (Regency Ballroom), with participating literary agents and editors. In the vein of “American Idol” or “America’s Got Talent,” this is a chance to get your first page read (anonymously — no bylines given) with attending agents commenting on what was liked or not liked about the submission. Get expert feedback on your incredibly important first page, and know if your writing has what it needs to keep readers’ attention. (All attendees are welcome to bring pages to the event for this session, and we will choose pages at random for the workshop for as long as time lasts. All submissions should be novels or memoir—no prescriptive nonfiction or picture books, please. Do not send your pages in advance. You will bring printed copies with you, and instructions will be sent out approximately one week before the event.)

2. How to Sell a Nonfiction Book. This session is completely devoted to nonfiction that is not memoir. So if you are trying to create an awesome nonfiction book proposal, this presentation is for you.

3. Picture Books: From Opening Line to Published Manuscript. To get your picture book published, there are many dos and don’ts you need to know as a writer. This class will discuss how to create a strong opening for your picture book, give examples of successful books from the kidlit world and offer insight on using one’s personal experiences in stories. The class will also share tips on navigating the process of getting a picture book agent and publisher, inevitable rejections, and what the process is like fine tuning edits with an editor. Then we will conclude the presentation sharing which resources you can use for success and inspiration.

2:45 – 3:45: Session 4

1. Panel: Ask an Agent or Editor Anything. In this session, attending literary agents, publishers, and editors sit on a panel to answer your questions on everything to writing, publishing, building a platform, what agents want, what are the latest trends in publishing, how movie options work, and more. Come ready to ask questions about anything you want related to the writing and publishing industry, and our panel will answer them.

2. The Best Strategies to Finish Your Novel (Finally!). Every writer struggles, at some point or another, to finish their novel. Whether you’re working on your first book and keep getting sidetracked, or whether you’re working on your fifteenth book and the struggle to reach “The End” comes from writer’s block, or too many ideas, or drowning out other people’s voices of what your book should be, this class will give you the tools you need to finally finish your novel (and have fun doing it!).

3. How to Write Great Romance Novels. Romance is the largest literary genre. Like all genres, it’s got its nuances, its reader expectations and its hidden pitfalls. We will deep dive about the tropes and requirements as well as the changing expectations of the most successful of all genres. We’ll talk about the highs, the lows, and the black moments that all go into writing a successful romance novel. Hint: It’s all about the characters, gang.

4:00 – 5:00: Session 5

1. The Author-Agent Relationship: What to Expect and How to Navigate a Rapidly Evolving Industry Together, taught by Amanda Orozco. In Q&A format,  a literary agent will speak about her experience in crafting MSWLs, client strategy, and the querying process so that querying authors can feel more knowledgeable and empowered through the process. Additionally, the instructor wants to provide an inside view of the agents’ submission process to editors, as well as the working agent/author relationship in general, including for authors of color or other underrepresented and marginalized backgrounds. Questions to address for attendees by the end of the panel: How do you know your agent is the right fit for you? What does a successful agent/author relationship look like? And what do you do if issues arise?

2. Talk That Talk: The Ins and Outs of Writing Great Dialogue. Dialogue isn’t just empty words – it’s part of the plot! This session will help authors craft dialogue that is believable, moves the story forward, and gives life to characters.

3. What a Literary Agent Learned From Selling 150 Books to Publishers in 2 Years (and How This Information Can Help You Sell Your Own Book). Why do some books get contracted by publishers and others don’t? Because, not every book, proposal, idea, or platform is equal. This class teaches you the ins and outs of a manuscripts salability, timing, and marketability and equips you with the understanding of how to create products that are market ready.

5:00: The Day is Over

* * * * * * * * *


We will actually send attendees extra FREE pre-recorded classes as part of their attendance. In addition to getting the weekend’s classes to enjoy live and in person, we will also send you 5 more free recorded classes on the side, from amazing instructors. In the week leading up to your in-person conference, we will send all confirmed attendees these classes below, some of which will aid in your pitching efforts:

  1. “Tips on Pitching Literary Agents & Editors at an In-Person Event,” taught by literary agent Carlie Webber
  2. “Tips on Pitching Literary Agents & Editors at an Online Event,” taught by literary agent Carlie Webber
  3. “Talking Dollars and Cents — How Authors Make Money,” from our Tennessee Writing Workshop
  4. “Publishing Options: Pros and Cons of Both Traditional and Indie Publishing,” from our Atlanta Writing Workshop
  5. “Overcoming Failure: How to Strive for ‘Yes’ in the Face of a Hundred Nos,” from our Florida Writing Workshop