16th Annual Florida Writers Conference

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

Samuel Staley


Sam “SR” Staley (www.srstaley.com; http://blog.srstaley.com ) is the author of five action adventure novels with stories that are fast paced, embrace strong female characters, incorporate realistic action, and attract strong crossover readership. His novels have earned finalist spots in the Eric Hoffer Book Awards and top honors in the Royal Palm Literary Awards, the President’s Awards of the Florida Authors and Publishers Association, the Seven Hills Literary Competition, including first place or gold medals in historical fiction, young adult/new adult, and mainstream/literary. He is also the author of six nonfiction books and a film critic for the Independent Institute in Oakland, California. The third book in The Pirate of Panther Bay trilogy (Southern Yellow Pine Publishing) and his seventh nonfiction book, Contemporary Film and Economics, will be released by Routledge in 2018.


Show Don’t Tell: Learning to Love and Trust Your Readers

One of the most common writing mantras is “show don’t tell”—never say in words what can be described through action or dialogue. Often an over reliance on telling results from authors’ beliefs their reader needs to be directed through a scene. Trusting the reader to interpret the story and connect dots results in “doing more with less” with the benefit of actively engaging the reader in the story.

This interactive workshop examines the pitfalls and solutions using samples from the workshop leader’s early manuscripts as templates for improving writing. A typical exercise will be to read a manuscript passage, have participants develop their own solutions to the problem, discuss those solutions with the group, and then reveal the final published version of the passage. The point will *not* be to show one approach is superior to another. Rather, the discussion will focus on the range of ways that showing can be accomplished in writing based on viewpoint, style, and technique. We will also have an opportunity for participants to submit their own work to the group for improvement and brainstorming solutions.

At the end of this workshop, participants will have learned:

  1. Topical writing traps that lead to “telling” rather than showing.
  2. Areas within a manuscript that might appropriately lend themselves to telling rather than showing.
  3. New tools for incorporating showing rather than telling giving readers more leeway interpreting character movements, actions, and motivations.
What Writers Can Learn About Storytelling From Film

This highly interactive workshop will explore visual storytelling in film to illuminate ways fiction writers can enhance their own writing skills and hone their style. Narrative film engages viewers primarily through sound and sight, and learning how to study film can enhance the descriptive powers of fiction writers and, to a lesser extent, nonfiction writers. We will examine clips from Jason Bourne, Deepwater Horizon, Free State of Jones, and other films to show how plot is advanced and characters explored with and without dialogue, relying on the expressions and movements of actors as well as judicious scene editing to create forward momentum. The session will also explore key differences between fiction writing versus visual storytelling in film to sharpen the participants understanding of their own literary style and how that translates into the stories they tell.

Attendees will learn:

  1. How to advance plot and action through description
  2. How dialogue can complement or detract from advancing plot
  3. How to engage readers using several senses and emotional expression.

Interview Topics

Storytelling in fiction as well as in film, traditional versus independent presses, and self-publishing.


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