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Rewrite Your Life (Full-day)

This one-day presentation is directed at writers in any genre and of any age and skill level.

According to common wisdom, we all have a book inside of us. But how do we select and then write our most significant story, the one that helps us to evolve and invites pure creativity into our lives, the one that people line up to read? In Rewrite Your Life: Transform Your Facts into Bestselling Fiction, creative writing professor, sociologist, TEDx presenter, and popular fiction author Jessica Lourey (MA, MS) takes you step-by-step through the redemptive process of crafting and selling an experience-based novel.

Based on the approach Lourey developed and field-tested in the wake of her husband's 9/11 suicide, this workshop combines research, writing guidance, and interactive exercises. Tender, raw, funny, and instructional, Rewrite Your Life offers both a map and a model for those seeking to transform themselves through the simple, profound act of novel writing. Attendees will leave with a handout of publishing suggestions and resources. (This session runs from 6-9 hours based on need. AV equipment—screen, wireless projector or projector with USB adapter on other end of cord—required.)

Rewrite Your Life can be modified into any one of these ten 50-minute, standalone workshops:

Rewrite Your Life: Why You Should Transform Your Facts into Fiction
Join author and instructor Jess Lourey to learn about the benefits of writing a life-inspired novel. This workshop is designed to encourage those on the fence, further empower those who are already committed to novel-writing, and offer incentive for those who may be tempted to give up at any point. Jess covers scientific research as well as anecdotes of best-selling writers whose work originated in their own life challenges. Creative activities are provided to keep the session entertaining and interactive. This session is directed at writers at any level and in any genre. Bring your pen, paper, and ideas.

Rewrite Your Life: A Quick and Dirty Dip into Fiction Genres, Terms, and Format
This exciting, interactive, and multimedia session summarizes the differences between and expectations of literary fiction, middle grade/young adult, western, romance, crime fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and horror. It also provides exercises for choosing the genre that best fits the story you want to tell. Handouts on relevant fiction terms and novel formatting will be provided. This session is directed at writers at any level and in any genre. Bring your pen, paper, and favorite novel.

Rewrite Your Life: Choose Your Novel Idea
Using the unique starting point of accessing the recurring themes in your life to produce dynamic fiction, this workshop covers:

  • a simple yet powerful model for sifting through your crucible moments to select the one robust enough to sustain a novel
  • how to strengthen this novel idea, including adding depth as well as subplots to your existing idea
  • the “Use Your Good Stuff Now; Your Brain Will Make More,” and “Write to One Person” rules of writing and life
  • a plan for discovering and refining your writer’s voice
  • examples of how successful writers transformed their defining moments into the seeds of bestselling fiction.

This session is directed at writers at any level and in any genre. Bring your pen, paper, and ideas.

Rewrite Your Life: Talk to the World in the Dark (Craft Compelling Characters)
This raw, vulnerable, and funny workshop provides expert instruction on how to draw from the people in your life to craft compelling fictional characters. Topics covered include guidance on becoming an amateur sociologist, excavating your own secrets, and avoiding the common flat character downfalls, as well as an exercise for building life-based characters with breadth and depth. Finally, it addresses the common concern that people will recognize themselves in your characters. This session is directed at writers at any level and in any genre. Bring your pen, paper, and ideas.

Rewrite Your Life: Structure Your Story
After briefly overviewing the major theories on novel structure (Aristotle’s 3 Acts, Freytag’s Pyramid, Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey), this workshop breaks them down into one simple method for following the thread of the story you need to tell. The workshop includes exercises to help you repurpose your life events, showing you how to harvest the worthwhile chunks and weave them into a compelling narrative. This session is directed at writers at any level and in any genre. Bring your pen, paper, and ideas.

Rewrite Your Life: Mine Memories to Create Cinematic Settings
Using a mixture of research, personal experience, and writing instruction, Jess provides the science behind and direction on how to use the power of smell, sound, taste, and touch memories to access your past and carry those memories forward to create cinematic settings. Examples of how J.D. Salinger, Khaled Hosseini, and Malcolm Lowry, among others, transformed the settings of their lives into fiction are included. The Setting Wheel exercise is offered to provide a fun, concrete method for transforming the places you’ve been into your novel’s multifaceted settings. This session is directed at writers at any level and in any genre. Bring your pen, paper, and ideas.

Rewrite Your Life: A 7-step Process for Crafting an Experience-based Novel
You've got life experiences that no one would believe, or that you'd rather not write about factually for any number of good reasons, or that you simply want to unload in a way that honors your memories while making room for more joy in your life. Writing a novel is the answer, but how do you transform your facts into healing, compelling fiction? Join author of thirteen books, college writing instructor, and TEDx speaker Jess Lourey for the answers. Participants will be shown how to go from idea to the first draft of a novel in one year’s time. This neat and sweet method removes the overwhelmingness inherent in drafting a book, allowing the first-time novelist to jumpstart the process and the more advanced writer to streamline it. This session is directed at writers at any level and in any genre. Bring your pen, paper, and ideas.

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Based on the process Lourey developed and field-tested in the wake of her husband’s suicide, Rewrite Your Life is devoted to the practice of discovering, healing, and evolving through fiction writing. It combines research, practical and engaging guidance, and personal experience to meet readers where they are and take their creativity and personal growth to the next level.

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