Everything You Need to Write a Beautiful Story

In this online workshop series, Alison Taylor-Brown, Director of the Village Writing School, teaches everything (and more) that she learned getting an MFA in Fiction. This series is appropriate for those new to writing and for experienced writers who want to review the many complex aspects of their chosen craft.

The series is presented in eight session across four months. Each module will be one three-hour Saturday session from Noon-3 pm Central time on the dates below. You can sign up for any module individually for $25, or you can sign up for the complete program for $150, a savings of $50.

Recordings of each session that you register for will be made available to you.

This event happens online, meaning that you will login to view it from wherever you are. Simple instructions on how to access the live workshop will be emailed to you after you register. The workshops are live with the instructor and there will be plenty of opportunity for questions and discussions. A recording of the presentation will be available for one week after the workshop date.

More than just a bunch of random workshops, this series will show you everything you need to write a beautiful story whatever your chosen genre (yes, zombie stories, too). A beautiful story is a well-crafted story, a readable story, a publishable story.

Make your story a beautiful story.

Register for the entire 8-part workshop series here:


Or, for individual sessions, register below.

How to Begin Your Story – May 12, 2018, 12pm – 3pm CT

The first page is the most important page in your book. Agents, editors, and potential readers all judge a book by its first page. But there are many decisions that must be made before that first line is written, and those decisions have the power to make or break your story.

In this workshop we will look at critical questions, such as point of view. We will make sure you understand the concept of narrative tension that must be present on that first page. And we will lay down some basic rules that a writer must never forget, such as:

  • How to Begin
  • Asking the Right Questions
  • What is Voice?
  • Narrative Arc
  • Narrative Tension
  • Writing Rules to Live By

Get your story off on the right foot and avoid massive rewrites by understanding the power of the first page. Register here for this single event.

Thirteen Ways to Make Your Characters Come AliveMay 26, 2018

Nothing is as important as your characters, even in a plot-driven thriller. Your characters much be real people with their own conflicts, angsts, and insecurities. The best of them must be flawed and the worst of them must have some sympathetic trait.

In this workshop we will look at thirteen ways to make your characters come alive and to make your readers care about them. We will look at narrative tension more specifically as it relates to character, and we will look at narrative distance as the lens through which your characters are viewed.

Learn the character creation techniques used by professional writers.

Register here for this single event.

Create a Plot that Readers, Agents and Publishers Love – June 9, 2018

A story is more than just a bunch of scenes strung together like train cars. Even character studies must have an arc, and most stories fall into a three-act structure. In this workshop you will learn what these terms mean and how to make sure your story moves smartly upwards to its conclusion.

  • Plotter versus pantser
  • A hybrid approach
  • The old and new of the three-act structure
  • How plotting stokes creativity

A proper understanding of plot will give you a tighter story, written in less time, and with less hair-pulling. Plot is critical to agents and publishers (which is why they want a synopsis).

If you want your story to be accepted, make sure your plot meets their criteria.

Register here for this single event.

Dialogue and Setting That Keep Readers Engaged – July 14, 2018

Dialogue is not just conversation, despite those admonitions to writers to “listen.” Dialogue is a carefully-crafted construct with a very definite purpose. And setting is equally crafted for a purpose, not just a description of the country or the room. In this workshop you will learn how these two elements can be used to control your readers’ reactions and to keep them fully engaged.

  • What to Say
  • How to Say it
  • Setting–More than a Place
  • Setting–Friend or Foe?

Nothing kills a story faster than boring dialogue. And nothing establishes the tone of a story like a well written, clearly defined setting

Learn how to handle both of these essentials in this one workshop.

Register here for this single event.

The Manipulation of Language is Your Most Powerful Tool – July 28, 2018

You are the Thor of your story and your bolt of lightning is language. Originally entitled, The Word and the Sentence, this workshop will teach you how language is the one powerful tool at your disposal to create, within your readers, the reactions that you desire. Language is a toolbox full of many instruments. Among others, this workshop will teach you how to use:

  • Diction
  • Sound Devices
  • Figurative Language
  • Types of Phrases
  • Style

Don’t rely on guesswork when you write. Understand what you are doing with the language that you put on the page.

Learn to harness your lightning bolts.

Register here for this single event.

Subtext: Go Below the Surface of Your Story, Plot, and Context – August 4, 2018

There’s a whole world going on between the lines. That world is called subtext. If you use it improperly, your readers are confused. If you use it wisely, your story is twice as powerful.

In this workshop we will examine the many types of subtext and how you can employ them to create characters and situations of great fascination for the reader. We will show you how to go below the surface of story, plot, and context.

Learn to recognize—and control—the implicit narrative.

Register here for this single event.

Dramatic Events and Endings: Meeting Reader’s Expectations – August 18, 2018

You have written for pages toward your dramatic event and/or your ending. Now here it is. Does it meet the reader’s expectation or does it fall flat?

In this workshop we will examine the do’s and don’ts of high events and look at several different ways to write them. We will also learn the different types of endings and consider which may be right for your story.

  • Weaving the Dramatic & the Subtle
  • Two Mistakes with High Events
  • Endings can Culminate or Imply Continuation
  • Ending Literal or From Afar?

Make sure you keep the promises you have made to the reader. Don’t let your dramatic event or ending disappoint them.

Register here for this single event.

Self-Editing: The Step-By-Step Process – September 1, 2018

You’re done! Wait, no you’re not. Editing is not sitting down with your manuscript and a cup of tea and reading through it. Editing should be a step-by-step process that gives you the opportunity to see your manuscript from different angles and in new lights.

In this workshop we will teach you how to put your manuscript under twelve different microscopes and what you can learn from each.

This workshop is an excellent summation of the complete series or, for those just coming into the series, a good introduction to editing your work. Either way, it’s an overview that will have you seeing your manuscript like never before.

The guidelines in this workshop will help you know that your finished book is as good as it can be

Register here for this single event.