top of page
OWU_JPGFINAL.jpg

Outliers Online Ongoing Writers Conference

2 Classes per month, every month on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of each month, 4 pm Pacific Time

Subscriptions are for 1 year (Best Bargain) or

You can also sign up for individual classes.

JOIN AT ANY TIME

classes are ongoing month after month

NOTE: You can begin your subscription at any time and access 2 classes/month for the duration of your subscription. For example, if you subscribe for 1 year on April 1, you will get 2 classes/month until  March 31 of the following year.

If you subscribe for 6 months your subscription will end on September 30

ALSO: Each class will remain available to students for 10 days after its presentation so if you miss one, or simply want to view it again, a provided link will allow access.

SIGN-UP

2024 SCHEDULE

4/16: CLASS 8: Sidekicks and the Supporting Cast—Allison Brennan

Who would Rick Blaine be without Louis Renault? Han Solo without Chewbacca? Bond without M? Frodo without Samwise?

 

Whether friend, family, mentor, or colleague, your supporting characters are critical to your story. They make your main character better (or worse). They add depth or comic relief. They ask questions, put up roadblocks, or provide a shoulder to cry on. Your supporting cast can make or break your story.

 

This workshop will dive into why you need strong secondary characters, what makes a compelling and interesting cast of characters, types of supporting characters, how to develop your cast, and questions to ask yourself as you write.

5/7: CLASS 9: Status: The Key to Creating Three-dimensional Characters—Steven James

Multi-dimensionality for all characters depends on varying and managing their status. Learn how to understand the dance of submission/dominance that every relationship has and how situational and substantive status affect every character in your novel.

 

You'll learn: 

How the four types of status can work together to create intriguing characters—and what will undermine that.

Six specific ways to raise your characters' substantive status while keeping them believable and relatable.

Why varying the status of your characters is the key to dimensionality.

How word choice, speaker attributions, and even punctuation choice work to determine—or undermine—the status of your character.

5/21: CLASS 10: Narrative NonFiction—Jon Land

 

Narrative nonfiction, also known as creative nonfiction which includes true crime, is a true story written in the style of a novel or thriller. The narrative nonfiction genre contains factual prose that is written in a compelling way, utilizing a structure and approach comparable to writing fiction.

 

How easy is it for a fiction writer to transfer their talents to this genre? What are the most important things to keep in mind and general rules for writing narrative nonfiction? What are the lines between creativity, imagination and the truth? And how can you find the stories to center your book around?

 

We will explore the answers to these questions and more in offering a primer on all things narrative nonfiction in what is envisioned as both an introduction to the genre and a checklist for those already exploring it.

6/4: CLASS 11: Self Editing 101--KJ Howe

 

Your manuscript is finished. Well done! Now you need to edit and polish your story before sending it out to agents and editors. After all, you only have one chance to make a brilliant first impression and stand out among the endless submissions. Join K.J. Howe as she delves into the high-level developmental editing and line-editing processes that will help your book shine.

6/18: CLASS 12: Short Stories and Novellas—Allison Brennan

Just because short stories are “short” doesn’t make them easy to write. And what happens when you have a great story idea that is too big for short and to small for a novel? Is there a market for short fiction? Why would a successful novelist want to write novellas? What types of stories work best for short fiction?

 

This workshop explores the importance of short stories, the differences between shorter fiction (4,000-40,000 words) and full-length works, what to look for in editing, how learning to write short will make you a stronger novelist, and how to use shorter fiction to promote and support your longer works.

7/2: CLASS 13: Managing the Muddle in the Middle—Hank Phillippi Ryan

Your fingers are poised over the keyboard. You have a rocking first act to your novel, and you even have an idea of how to end your story with a twist and a bang and a shot at certain bestsellerdom. But now what? How are you going to get from that great beginning to the kickass ending? You've hit the muddle in the middle. Raymond Chandler once advised: “When in doubt, bring in a man with a gun." What did he really mean by that? And how can it work for you? 

 

USA Today best-selling author Hank Phillippi Ryan will show you how these central pages can be crafted to intrigue, surprise, and delight your readers–and have them turning the pages as fast as they can. In addition to practical advice and specific tips, you will leave this session with a clear and exciting path toward the magic in the middle. 

7/16: CLASS 14: How To Break Into Ghost Writing—Jon Land

 

What is ghostwriting exactly, is it right for you, and how can you break in?

 

The answers to these questions and more will be covered in an overview of what is now also known as “collaborative writing.” Ghostwriting is one of the true growth sectors in the publishing industry, with dozens of companies promoting their respective services and always looking for new talent.

 

This class will explore the practice and pitfalls of ghostwriting, emphasizing the most important attributes you need to carve out a place for yourself in one of the few areas that provides steady, guaranteed income to writers.

8/6: CLASS 15: Infusing Your Story With Humor—DP Lyle and Tim Maleeny

Humor can add spice to any fictional story. It can be the “secret sauce” that makes a story sing. From James Bond’s memorable quips, to the madcap antics of Stephanie Plum, to the cool and subtle humor of Elmore Leonard, to the insanity of Carl Hiassen and Dave Barry, to the situational humor of Tim Maleeny, Paul Levine, and my own Jake Longly series, humor is good medicine. And good storytelling. 

 

In this class, Tim Maleeny and DP Lyle will delve into examples of humor that work and establish the principles you need to sprinkle humor into your stories. Attendees can then offer situations and we will interactively toss around ideas to make that scene funny, yet still move the story forward. Armed with this knowledge, you can then kick your storytelling up a notch.

8/20: CLASS 16: Secrets of Suspense—Hank Phillippi Ryan

 

Think about the words you see in a rave book review. Pacey. Propulsive. Riveting. Compelling. Page-turner. And those are all shorthand for “fun to read,” and for “something happens.”  And also for "I cannot wait to find out what happens next."  Problem is, it’s textbook-easy to begin a novel and have something happen: that’s why there’s a story. But to keep your story going, to keep it pacey and propulsive, things must keep happening. And at every moment, the reader must be compelled to turn the page. 

 

Every writer knows it can be daunting to keep the engine of your book running. But suspense is the fuel that makes it accelerate.  How can you create suspense in very sentence? And how can you pack your pages with so much suspense that it becomes a coveted one-sitting read?  

 

USA Today best-selling author and Emmy-winning investigative reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan will show you how each element of your story can be tightened, twisted, and focused to intrigue, surprise and delight your readers--and have them turning the pages as fast as they can. With practical advice and specific tips, Hank will guide you through the secrets of suspense.

9/3: CLASS 17: So Close, So Far Away: Unlocking the Secrets of Psychic Distance—Mark Tavani

 

Psychic Distance is how deeply the writer places the reader inside a character’s mind. Deeply, where fears, emotions, and thoughts live, or a step back where observation rules. Learn to master this tool and add power to your storytelling.

9/17: CLASS 18: Highway To The Outline Zone—Tamara Grantham

Want to know the secret to writing a good book and writing it in record time? Welcome to the Outline Zone! In this class, award-winning author Tamara Grantham shares her secrets on how she’s written more than twenty novels in the past ten years, many of which have become bestsellers. Learn the insider tips on the best outlining practices that will ensure you have a solid novel before you ever write the first word.

10/1: CLASS 19: Adding Intrigue & Action To Your Prose—Don Bentley

Learn how to add intrigue and action to your writing with hands on editing exercises as well as thoughts from today’s top thriller writers and editors

10/15: CLASS 20: Writing Timeless Historical Fiction—Boyd Morrison

What to think about when crafting historical fiction

Learn how to research historical elements, how to apply aspects of daily life from your chosen time period, and why language and names are so important to establishing the setting.

11/6: CLASS 21: Plotting the Commercial Thriller--Jeffrey Deaver

***NOTE: This Class is on Wednesday Due To Election Day

Whether you write thrillers or want a thrilling plot for your story, learn the process from a master storyteller.

 

11/19: CLASS 22: Getting Your Book Published—John/Shannon Raab

 

You've written a book, now you need an agent or a publisher and don't know where to go or what to do.  We will teach you how to avoid common mistakes and give you a road map to follow and help navigate around the publishing business.

12/3: CLASS 23: Marketing: Your Online Presence and Other Marketing Strategies—John/Shannon Raab

 

Writing the book is the easy part, getting people to buy it is the hard part."  That's the issue with almost every author in the business, how to get new fans.  We will give you tips and ideas on how make yourself a brand and gain new followers.

12/17: CLASS 24: It’s Not Enough To Write A Good Story—Joseph Badal

How many times have you heard people say, "I have a great idea for a book, but I just don't have the time to write it." The fact that you are writing something differentiates you from the millions who just don't have the time. That difference is passion. But just because you have the passion to write does not mean that what you are writing will be embraced by an editor, a publisher, or readers.

 

It's not enough to write a good story. There are rules that must be followed in order for your writing to be accepted. Joseph Badal, the author of 19 award-winning suspense novels will share with you a list of writing rules he uses as a template to take his manuscripts from rough drafts to publishable works.

2025 SCHEDULE

1/7: CLASS 25: Premise: What Your Story Is About: From What If? To Premise—Kathleen Antrim

 

Before embarking on the writing journey, it's crucial to understand your book's essence clearly. This class offers a specific exercise to eliminate uncertainty and help you define the premise of your story with precision.

 

Following that, we will go through a step-by-step method to structure and complete your first draft.

 

Next, I’ll guide you through a step-by-step process to structure and complete your first draft, culminating in a polished final manuscript.

1/21: CLASS 26: Putting “Medical Truth” in Your Story

    

Regardless of genre, a major obstacle for many writers is obtaining the specialized knowledge needed to bring a story to life. This is especially true when scientific or medical issues arise. Whether it is the procedures or inner workings of hospitals, emergency departments, or operating rooms; the functioning of doctors, nurses, paramedics, and other paramedical personnel; the mental and physical repercussions of acute or chronic illnesses or injuries such as auto accidents, gunshot wounds, or lightning strikes; the effects of both prescribed and illicit drugs; the impact of acute and chronic psychiatric disorders on victims and their loved ones; or issues in determining the cause and time of death or other forensic procedures; a valid understanding of these complex issues will add depth and drama to any manuscript.

2/4: CLASS 27: The Mystical Quest: Finding a Literary Agent—Harry Hunsicker

 

Using hard-fought lessons gleaned from his road to publication, veteran mystery writer Harry Hunsicker discusses the publishing process, literary agents, how to craft a query letter that will generate a positive response and strategies for finding the right agent for your book. 

2/18: CLASS 28:  SUSPENSE—Meg Gardiner

 

Learn from a master how to keep your plot in turmoil—and readers reading

3/4: CLASS 29: PLOT TWISTS—Meg Gardiner

 

How do you create surprises that readers never see coming? How do you spring them on your audience in ways they’ll love? Meg Gardiner will show you how.

3/18: CLASS 30: 

4/1: CLASS 31:

4/15: CLASS 32

5/6: CLASS 33: Scene Study: How to make the most of every scene—STEVEN JAMES

Every scene will end in one of four ways—and only two of them do anything to move the story forward or contribute to the character’s development. Learn what those two are and, even more importantly, discover how to master the two scene endings that will actually advance and enhance your story.

 

You'll learn: 

 

Why pursuit is far more important than plot, and how to use that insight to inform every scene in your manuscript.

How to know when to summarize a scene and when to render one.

Why it’s essential for characters to fail in order for a story to proceed.

How to start scenes, what stalls them out, and what can propel any scene forward.

5/20: CLASS 34: 

6/3: CLASS 35:

6/17: CLASS 36:

7/1: CLASS 37: How to Write Your Way out of a Corner—STEVEN JAMES

 

Learn how to generate fresh ideas, weave innovative thinking into your writing projects (whether fiction or nonfiction), and improve the shape and craft of the stories you write. We’ll explore and demystify the creative process while discovering simple steps for intensifying the impact of your writing. Whether you’re new to writing or a seasoned pro, you’ll learn practical, easy-to-master techniques that will save you time while taking your writing to the next level. 

7/15: CLASS 38: 

8/5: CLASS 39: 

8/19: CLASS 40: 

9/2: CLASS 41: 

9/16: CLASS 42: The Psychology of Character Motivation—DP Lyle

The strength of every story, regardless of genre, lies in the characters that populate the fictional landscape. Developing full, realistic, and believable characters requires an understanding of the psychological drives that push them to act and react. 

 

Why do people love, hate, envy, loath, and need one another? 

Why do they steal, cheat, batter, and kill? 

Why do they argue, lie, deceive, threaten, and comfort?

 

The class will begin with a discussion of the basic psychology that drives character behavior and the forces behind conflict and conflict resolution---the driving force behind thought, action, and dialog. Once these are well in hand, we will look at the conflict-driven character arc of famous protagonists and antagonists. You will then be equipped to apply the principles to your own storytelling and produce a manuscript that will attract attention.

10/7: CLASS 43:

10/21: CLASS 44: Tips for Writing and Publishing Short Crime Fiction—Michael Bracken and Stacy Woodson in Conversation

 

“A short story must have a single mood and every sentence must build toward it.” 

-Edgar Allan Poe.

 

Short stories require a skill set that’s different from writing a novel. Learn the elements that create a great short story, the different ways to structure them, and how to create a strong narrative drive that leads to a satisfying ending. Instructors will also share how to find markets for short fiction and tips on how to develop working relationships with editors that can lead to a long and rewarding career.

11/4: CLASS 45:

11/18: CLASS 46:

12/2: CLASS 47:

12/16: CLASS 48: The Subtleties of Voice and Point of View—STEVEN JAMES

 

What is voice and how does it relate to the POV you’re telling the story from? Learn the subtleties of developing a unique narrative voice and gain an understanding of when to shift to another point of view (and when not to!) and how to use voice and multiple POVs to draw readers in.

 

You'll learn: 

 

How to uncover your voice and shade each POV section with its own unique flavor.

The nine pitfalls of POV use and how to avoid them.

The role of reader empathy and why it’s overrated.

The dynamic between details and descriptions, and how to leverage them both in your story while staying in your voice.

CLASSES COMPLETED

1/2,24: CLASS 1: Premise: What Your Story Is About: From What If? To Premise—Kathleen Antrim

1/16/24: CLASS 2: The Psychology of Character Motivation—DP Lyle

2/6/24: CLASS 3: Storytelling: Authors Heather Graham and DP Lyle In Conversation

2/20: CLASS 4: Structuring Your Novel—Cody Blocker

3/5: CLASS 5: Heroes and Villains: Bringing Out the Best and the Worst in Your Characters—Steven James

3/19: CLASS 6: The Art of Pacing—Boyd Morrison

4/2: CLASS 7: World Building For Any Genre—Tosca Lee

bottom of page