Oregon Christian Writers’ Conference Report

Last week I attended the Oregon Christian Writer’s Summer Coaching Conference. I, and three other members of my critique group carpooled to the event and shared a cabin at the beautiful Canby Grove Conference Center.

Classes started Monday afternoon, shortly after arrival and didn’t end until lunchtime Thursday (Well, with the exception of having the option to sleep from 9:00 P.M. until breakfast). What a whirlwind time it was! And how informative.

For my coaching class, I opted to take Marcher Lord Press Publisher, Jeff Gerke’s Advanced Fiction Writing Workshop. (I had also submitted a manuscript to him for critique. The very first session helped me to understand the weaknesses in my manuscript and how to fix them, but more about that another day).

Gerke discussed plot driven and character driven writing, and taught us how to develop strong characters and strong plots. We spent a full morning on character development. The next day we learned about plot and three act structure (something I’ve taught to middleschoolers when I was an educator—only nowhere near to the depth Gerke did!) AND, the character development arc that runs parallel to it, which no one had ever taught me before. As we worked through the idea of  applying the plot and character arcs, I was able to practice a step-by-step process of planning on an idea for a novel I’ve been thinking about for some time. Now I can’t wait to start writing it! I think I’ll participate in National Novel Writing Month this year and throw down that rough draft! I’m so excited.

There were afternoon workshops and classes for fiction and nonfiction writer’s, classes on editing, poetry, researching, marketing and many other topics related to writing. Bill Myers’, who created “McGee and Me” gave an awesome three-part keynote address. And I attended a workshop led by James Scott Bell, whose writing advice I’ve been reading for years in Writer’s Digest. My brain felt so stuffed with new information by the end of the four days that I felt like I needed to sleep for a week just to process it.

But believe me, I have no regrets. The conference was fun. It was educational. It was all about writing! What could be better than that?