16th Annual Florida Writers Conference

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

Heather Whitaker

Industry Expert

Heather Whitaker is a developmental editor and writing coach specializing in novels and memoirs, including children’s literature, adult literary, and adult genre fiction. She has worked with over 150 writers across the nation, from budding novelists to award winning and NYT best-selling authors, including Julianna Baggott (The PURE trilogy) and Jon Jefferson (Cut to the Bone, The Breaking Point). Heather also leads ongoing writers groups and teaches writing classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at FSU.


Using Micro-Tension to Write a Riveting Story

High intensity scenes are great for holding the reader’s attention, but how do you keep the reader glued to your story in-between these scenes? By using micro-tension. This term, made famous by agent and author Donald Maass, refers to incorporating tension, not just on a scene level, but on a line level throughout your story. A partial reveal of backstory, what the characters say (or perhaps don’t say), even the way the narrator describes an object: all of these and much more can be used to create micro-tension and that relentless feeling of ongoing conflict that keeps readers reading in-between the high intensity scenes.

This workshop will include a handout listing ways to create micro-tension and we’ll do an exercise so you can practice what you’ve learned. Participants are welcome to bring in their own writing to use for the exercise.

An Advanced Look at POV

What does it mean to have a “close” POV? Can I show scenes from my antagonist’s viewpoint? What does POV have to do with voice? Choosing which POV to use is one of the most important decisions you’ll make for your story. Join Heather as she takes a look at some of the more challenging POVs (omniscient, multiple narrators, dual timelines) and learn how POV often differs by genre. This session covers author intrusion, POV slip-ups, and other common POV problems, and also examines the relationship between POV and voice, plus discussing the benefits and drawbacks of a close narrator vs. a distant one.

This workshop will include exercises and discussion as we analyze whether you’ve chosen the right POV for your story, and what specific challenges you need to prepare for.

Attendees will learn:

  • How POV choice often differs by genre
  • How to ground the reader when switching POVs and/or timelines
  • How to use multiple 3rd person limited omniscient narrators without diminishing your protagonist
The Art & Science of Scene Structure

What is it that makes a scene? Where should you start them, where should you end them, and just what do you have to accomplish in-between? This workshop will take an in-depth look at the structure of scenes and what makes a scene successful. It also covers the idea of complete scenes vs. the concept of scene and sequel, as well as how and when to effectively use cliffhangers. Participants are welcome to bring a scene or two from their own work to use during the exercise.

Attendees will learn:

  • What components should all scenes have?
  • What does scene and sequel mean?
  • When is it best to use cliffhangers (and when will they seem melodramatic)?

Interview Topics

Concerns with plotting, protagonist, POV, other craft of writing, and working with a freelance editor


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