Word by Word

Practical insights for writers from Jessica P Morrell

From Idea to Story workshop on May 3

Written By: Jessica Morrell - Apr• 16•14

In case you missed it, I have a fabulous, practical, get-it-done workshop coming up. We’re going to brainstorm, problem solve a lot. Hate to use buzz words, but the truth is, authors who attended this workshop have gone on to publish their books.

And it’s in Manzanita, Oregon. If you’ve never spent time in lovely Manzanita, you owe yourself a trip. It’s about 2 hours  from Portland, 15 miles south of Cannon Beach on 101. Charming village with air you want to bottle. I always feel calm and creative there. In fact, have edited and written large chunks of 5 of my books there…in a cabin overlooking the endlessly-changing Pacific. I purposely schedule workshops and retreats in inspiring locales….but you probably already guessed that.

Here’s a photo of Manzanita at sunset. I have seen some of the loveliest sunsets of my lifetime in Manzanita…just thinking about them makes me feel blissful and goosebumpy. Not kidding.


Here are details about the workshop. Please contact me soon…..

From Idea to Story

May 3, 9-4:30

The Center for Contemplative Arts, Manzanita, Oregon

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 it 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 workshop, 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 forces and fears at play such as the fear or inability to finish, which is all too common. We’ll cover the basics of plotting, or if you’re writing a memoir, choosing the right elements and order for it. Participants can bring a brief outline of their plot and first three paragraphs.

We’ll also cover:

  • Determining if your premise is a true compass that will keep the story on track.
  • The basic underpinnings of stories—the anatomy of scenes and the anchor scenes that hold it together.
  • How believable, important stakes power the story.
  • Strategies for handling pacing anxiety and the urge to pad instead of plot.
  • Perfectionism, mistakes, and daring to make them.
  • Making tough choices about what to leave in and what to leave out.
  • How stories and endings are based on the protagonist’s deepest needs and fears.
  • How stories contain meaningful themes and are metaphors for life.

 To register: The cost is $80. Payment is required to register. Mail a check to Jessica Morrell, P.O. Box 820141, Portland, OR 97282-1141. PayPal also accepted. 

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  1. Raymond Mitchell says:

    I’m very interested in your May 3rd workshop. But I’m new to writing. I have a theme I want to develop, suggesting a mosaic structure of some sort. A mixture of memoir, poetry,fiction, and contemplative essay. So, assembling a myriad of pieces into a seamless whole sounds like just the thing. Except that I don’t yet know what the pieces may turn out to be, and even the theme is terribly general. Still, it does captivate me. Sorry for running on here. I’m writing to ask if you think my participation in your workshop would be appropriate–for me, for you, and for the other participants. Perhaps we could connect by phone. I’m at 503-226-9063 in Portland. Also, I’d like to know where exactly the workshop is to be held in Manzanita. I often visit this town as it’s my favorite getaway place. I’ve recently met Marko Smith who encouraged me to join him at your workshop. Hope to hear from you soon, –Raymond

    • jessicap says:

      Thanks so much for writing. This workshop will work for writers of all levels. I’ll give you a call,okay? It’s going to be held at the Center for Contemplative Arts. Jessica

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