16th Annual Florida Writers Conference

“What A Character”
October 19 – 22 in Altamonte Springs, Florida

Carla NortonCarla Norton


Carla Norton is an award-winning novelist and best-selling true crime writer. Her debut fiction, The Edge of Normal, is a Thriller Award finalist and a Royal Palm Literary Award winner. The sequel, What Doesn’t Kill Her, is an FAPA Award Winner and a PNWA Nancy Pearl Award winner. Her nonfiction includes Disturbed Ground and Perfect Victim, a #1 New York Times bestseller.


True Crime – Stranger than Fiction

Plenty of crimes are “stranger than fiction,” but that doesn’t mean they all have the intellectual heft and emotional pay-off needed for a book. The demands of crafting nonfiction differ from those of writing a novel. But how can you decide—before investing months of your time—whether to use select details to fuel your fiction, or to fully investigate and write about a criminal case? If you’re fascinated by crime, this workshop is for you. We’ll explore the unique responsibilities and demands of the genre, including research, structure, liability, and how to market your book.

Attendees will learn:

  • How does writing true crime differ from writing crime fiction?
  • How do you tackle research?
  • What are the risks of being sued? Do you need a life story agreement?
  • What is a nonfiction proposal and how can that help sell the book?
Secrets to Writing Great Dialogue

Whether you’re writing a scene of subtle seduction or ratcheting up suspense with an accusatory rant, your characters want to speak. In this workshop you’ll learn ways to loosen their tongues. You’ll discover techniques for turning mundane conversation into punchy dialogue. Carla will discuss the importance of avoiding exposition while moving your plot forward. She’ll explore how sensory detail can enable your protagonist to “read minds” without straining credulity. And you’ll see how questions, interruptions, and subtext can pick up the pace and breathe life into a scene. Dialogue samples will be provided, but bring your own short sections to work on as well. If you want to rid your manuscript of extraneous chitchat and dull exposition, this workshop is for you.

Attendees will learn:

  • How to create distinctive voices for your characters.
  • How to use tags, gestures, and sentence structure to improve dialogue.
  • How to avoid common pitfalls.


Dredging Up Your Dark Side

Few novelists are serial killers or homicidal psychopaths, that we’re aware of, anyway, but writing darker fiction requires us to mine the shadowy veins of our psyche. Where do those villainous characters come from and how do you write about the nasty things they do when you’re basically a sweetheart of a person? Ken Pelham moderates this panel.

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

All fiction writers are liars, spinning out incredible tales of adventure, romance and mystery. Good writers are able to make the unbelievable believable by covering readers with webs of plausibility forcing them to suspend their disbelief and enjoy the story. This panel, moderated by Kristin Durfee, explores ways writers can make the incredible credible no matter what genre you’re writing.

Interview Topics

Mystery/thriller writing, writing true crime, using truth in fiction, the writing profession, the writing craft.


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