Practical insights for writers from author and developmental editor Jessica Morrell

Conferences & Workshops

Written By: Jessica Morrell


 June 1, Insomnia Coffee in Hillsboro, Oregon

7-8 pm

317 Main Street

From Idea to Story

Writers have long grappled with the problem of taking a flash of inspiration through the marathon process of completing a finished work. That flash is your premise. But a premise on its own is flimsy, must be build up and needs the perfect story people to bring it to life until it becomes a compelling, awe-inspiring tale of… whatever it is you long to tell. This talk, for writers of all levels, will address key issues that must be confronted if you are going to assemble a myriad of pieces into a seamless whole. These issues include finding a shape for your story; how to treat plot and character as interdependent; how to avoid typical pitfalls when working. We’ll discuss fears at play such as an inability to finish and how to achieve the habit of completion. We’ll cover the basics of plotting, or if you’re writing a memoir, choosing the right elements and order for it.

for more information go to


Having seen Jessica speak at the 2016 Willamette Writers Conference, I can tell you she is an amazing presenter who provides an absolute wealth of information in a speck of time. She is truly a gift to the writing community and an exemplar of what it means to be a good literary citizen.  ~ Amy Foster Myer


Going Forward:

Please check back for details on upcoming workshops and  mini conferences.

September 23 Manzanita, Oregon

October 11, Portland, Oregon

November 18, Claim Your Story YA



Why Your Characters Do What They Do

Willamette Writers meeting, April 4

The Old Church, Portland, Oregon

Motivation and stakes drive fictional characters to act, take risks, and get into heaps of  trouble. And then more trouble.  These two devices also reveal and distinguish characters, create drama and conflict, and propel character growth.  Motivation stems from a potent brew of a character’s traits, beliefs, background, values and subconscious drives. Stakes drive a protagonist, and the best stories result when stake are personal and high. If the protagonist can just walk away without personal consequences, anything he or she does can feel contrived. But when he or she must accomplish something important and individual, it’s more believable and gripping.  

We’ll look at examples from various genres using fiction, film, and television. We’ll also discuss tropes to avoid, how to create opposing and complex motivations, and how to mix things up with new plot developments.


“I just wanted you to know that I was so inspired by you. You have such a great enthusiasm, without being rah-rah or annoying. I think everyone was impressed with this special trait and left the presentation raring to go forward. Listening to you has given me some hopeful determination.” ~ workshop attendee


  1. […] Editor’s Wishlist” presented at Making it in Changing Times by the dashing Jessica […]

  2. […] Start Your Writing in 2013″ presented at Making it in Changing Times by Polly Campbell a.k.a ‘the guru’ (that’s what I’ve dubbed Polly due to […]

  3. […] offers a wide variety of writing workshops and conferences around Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. There are day workshops to full weekend conferences, […]

    • jessicap says:

      Thanks for inviting me–looking forward to it. One of my favorite topics and always enjoy spending time with writers.

  4. Grace says:

    I loved your lecture at Willamette Writers. Do you teach anywhere in PDX?

    • Jessica Morrell says:

      Thanks so much. I teach my own series of workshops and classes. I took time off last year because of surgeries and moving, but am starting up again. My next workshop is Writing as Resistance. It’s happening on April 28, in Multnomah Village. I’d be happy to send you the information via an email.

    • Jessica Morrell says:

      Actually the date is Saturday, April 29

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *