How Do I Plot Thee? Let Me Count the Ways

  • Saturday, November 10, 2018
  • 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
  • BARN Great Room, Class Code: WR111018KO+
  • 12


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Few subjects stir a debate more than how to develop a plot. That's why we have invited four Seattle7 authors to discuss plot development in this "mini" conference. 

Where do you begin? With an idea? Then what? Is your plot action- or character-driven? Do you jot down a few notes and start writing? Do you assemble an outline—sketchy or detailed? Do you just start writing and see where the characters and ideas take you?

Join authors Kathleen Alcala and Jennie Shortridge, both in the character-driven camp, in the morning as they discuss their ideas on plot development. Then, in the afternoon, join thriller writers, Mike Lawson and Kevin O'Brien, as they put on boxing gloves and go to their separate corners to argue for how they develop an action-driven plot. Though all of these authors use different methods, the result is the same--each consistently turns out bestselling novels.

A lunch break will be from noon-1 pm. You are free to brown-bag it in our Commons or step out in town. A question-and-answer session will follow each presentation session.

Presenters: Kathleen Alcalá is the author of six books of fiction and nonfiction. A graduate of the Clarion West Science Fiction and Fantasy Workshop, she has also served as an instructor in the program. Kathleen earned her MA from the University of Washington, and her MFA from the University of New Orleans. Until recently, she was a fiction instructor at the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts on Whidbey Island. Besides her short story collection and three novels, Kathleen has published fiction in numerous anthologies, most recently in the speculative fiction anthology Latin@ Rising, edited by Matthew David Goodwin and published by Wings Press. Her most recent book is The Deepest Roots: Finding Food and Community on a Pacific Northwest Island, from the University of Washington Press. 

Mike Lawson is the award-winning author of fifteen published novels.  He has been nominated for the Barry Award several times and has twice won the Portland-based Friends of Mystery Award for his Joe DeMarco political thriller series. The latest DeMarco work is House Witness. The first book in his second series, titled Rosarito Beach, involving a rogue DEA agent named Kay Hamilton, was optioned for television. Prior to turning to writing full time, Mike was a nuclear engineer employed by the Navy and he lives in the Northwest.

Before his thrillers landed him on the New York Times Bestseller list, Kevin O’Brien was a railroad inspector.  The author of eighteen internationally-published thrillers, he won the Spotted Owl Award for Best Pacific Northwest Mystery and is a core member of Seattle 7 Writers. Press & Guide said: “If Alfred Hitchcock were alive today and writing novels, his name would be Kevin O’Brien.” Kevin’s latest nail-biter is Hide Your Fear. He’s hard at work on his nineteenth novel.

Jennie Shortridge is the author of five bestselling novels, including Love Water Memory and When She Flew. Her books have been translated into several languages and optioned for film, as well as being selected as American Booksellers Association’s Indie Next picks and Library Journal’s Editors’ Picks. An avid volunteer, she is the co-founder of Seattle7Writers, a nonprofit collective of Northwest authors who raise money and awareness for literature and literacy. Learn more at

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