Attention All! Herewith, News of a Writer’s Conference Like No Other

Poster for show to follow writer's conference Oct. 15

After the day's writing, it's show time!

Any writer who’s interested in tuning his/her skills might want to sign up for a one-of-a-kind writer’s boot camp sponsored by the Seattle 7, a group of writers—many more than seven, actually—that funds various philanthropic pursuits. Called “Write Here, Write Now,” the conference starts promptly at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011, with welcoming remarks by yours truly. It lasts all day, and culminates in an evening of music, acting, comedy, and other forms of self-mortification on the part of the various writers doing the teaching.

What makes this conference different is that it’s not a conference for talking about writing, it’s for writing. Throughout the day various professional writers will teach quick 10-minute sessions on all manner of writerly skills. For example, I’ll teach the first session, called “Killer Opening Paragraphs,” wherein I’ll pass along as many personal insights as possible in the 10 minutes allotted. Each session will be immediately followed by 45 minutes of, wait for it, writing, during which attendees will deploy the skills and concepts covered by the instructor. (So bring a laptop, pen, pencil, pad, iPad, iPhone, stenographer, Dictaphone, whatever.)

We’ll also have break-out sessions, where your writing will get the personal attention of Seattle 7 members. For example, we’ll have a “Tough Love Room,” where we’ll tell you what you don’t want to hear, and a “Validation Room,” where we’ll tell you what you do want to hear. We’ll also have a room devoted to polishing written dialogue, wherein you’ll be asked to stand up and read your work aloud, for critique by the writer in charge. (And by the way, nothing helps a writer improve his/her prose as much as reading it aloud, before a critical listener.)

Then, at 7:00 that night, the real show begins. Called “Up Late Reading,” it’ll feature music, parody, comedy, writers in chicken costumes, and at least one erotic—or nearly so—reading. And the performers will be the very writers who savaged your self esteem during the day. Garth “Racing in the Rain” Stein and I will be the emcees. And, here’s the thing, we will be wearing tuxedos.

So sign up now. It’s all free. As in no charge. If you want to donate used books, that’s great. If you want to donate money to be dispersed by the Seattle 7 to various Seattle philanthropies, that’s even better. Disclosure: None of the writers involved will earn a penny from this venture. Nor have they received contributions from the Republican or Democratic parties, or from the banking and pharmaceutical lobbies.

Everything takes place at the Rainier Valley Cultural Center, 3515 South Alaska St., Seattle, 98118.

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Erik Larson is the author of six New York Times bestsellers, most recently The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz, which examines how Winston Churchill and his “Secret Circle” went about surviving the German air campaign of 1940-41. Erik’s The Devil in the White City is set to be a Hulu limited series; his In the Garden of Beasts is under option by Tom Hanks, for a feature film. He recently published an audio-original ghost story, No One Goes Alone, which has been optioned by Netflix. Erik lives in Manhattan with his wife, who is a writer and retired neonatologist; they have three grown daughters.

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