Home / Writing / Writer Unboxed UnConference, 2019: Announcing Open Registration

Writer Unboxed UnConference, 2019: Announcing Open Registration

It’s been three years, and finally the Writer Unboxed UnConference is back!

Part symposium. Part networking affair. Part workshop. Part retreat.

Unlike other conferences, our hybrid event will not focus on the business of writing; there will be no sessions on finding agents or writing query letters or building platforms. Instead, our focus will be on the things WU’ers crave most:

  • Drilled-down, interactive conversations and 90-minute workshops on relevant topics led by *13* trusted WU contributors, craft gurus and bestselling authors, including Brunonia Barry, Anne Greenwood Brown, David Corbett, Kathryn Craft, Keith Cronin, Barbara O’Neal, Margaret Dilloway, Donald Maass, Greer Macallister, Ray Rhamey, Therese Walsh, Heather Webb, and Cathy Yardley
  • A 4-hour capstone workshop with Donald Maass
  • Mind-stretching sessions to help you understand yourself better as a writer
  • Time to interact with peers and group leaders in and outside of sessions, because everyone knows that the best part of a conference happens when the conversation begins
  • A dedicated, quiet space for writing

In other words, we’re going to lean on our strengths, the qualities that have made Writer Unboxed a strong site and community. We’re going to empower you, but this time we’re going to empower you in person.

The 2019 UnConference, unboxed

This year’s UnConference, Escape to WUnderland, is an exploration of deep craft.

You will fill your schedule’s 16+ programming slots with sessions on the following topics:

  • The Heart of Your Voice: Understanding the Central Story that Underpins Your Work (workshop)
  • Building Literary Muscle: How Word Choices and Language Tricks Add Power to Prose (workshop)
  • Organic Plotting: Using Non-Standard Methods to Find Your Story’s Hidden Depths (workshop)
  • Raise Your Voice, and Raise Your Game: Experiment with Voice to Unlock New Potentials
  • The Jenga of Story: Structure Considerations for Plotters, Pantsers, and Planners
  • Beyond Historicals: The Power and Play of Rich Detail to Bring Your Story to Life
  • Tunnel Down: An Examination of Point of View, Character-Revealing Metaphors, and more
  • A Deep Sense of Place: Creating Emotional Connection Through Setting (workshop)
  • Writing for Social Change: Being Authentic Without Being Preachy
  • Building Bridges: Guiding Reader-Relatability in an Increasingly Divided World (workshop)
  • Beyond World Building: Your Story World, From Black-and-White to Technicolor (workshop)
  • Emotional Tipping Points: Moments That Forever Change Your Characters (workshop)
  • Raiders of the Lost Arcs: Secondary Arcs to Enrich Your Story (workshop)
  • Reassessing Dialogue Beyond the First Draft: What’s Said and Left UNsaid (workshop)
  • The Creative Groove: Emotional Strategies for the Long Haul
  • Yearning vs. Resistance: Creating Internal Conflict
  • Backstory is Behavior: Turning Internal Conflict Outward
  • The Character of Plot: Moving Conflict Forward
  • The Power of Evil: Motivating Villainous Characters
  • Flog a Pro: A Study of First Pages (workshop)
  • Beyond Process: How Your Writing Process Intersects with Your Story, and Your Life
  • The Art of Pacing: How Scene, Character, and Structure Accelerate–and Decelerate–Pacing
  • Writing What Scares You–and Talking to Your Monsters: Calm Anxieties & Deepen Your Writing
  • Pushing Harder: Increasing Conflict the Right Way
  • Psychology of the “Meet Cute”: The Truth About Chemistry, and Avoiding ClichédLove Stories
  • A Visceral Thesaurus: Creating a New Resource Through Group Memory-Mining
  • The Territory of Character: A Dynamic Way to Understand and Test Your Characters (workshop)
  • Unboxed Critique: Creating Conversations with Your First Readers to Dramatically Improve Story
  • 4-HOUR CAPSTONE WORKSHOP w/ Donald Maass
    The Architecture of WUnder: Build a Transporting Story Your Readers Won’t Want to Leave

Extras: optional walking groups, an evening “book therapy” session (bring your troubled plot points, characters, etc.), “bed-time stories” (share your five-minute excerpt in a casual evening setting), and more

Contest: details provided just before the event

Writing space: available throughout the event

When and where:

The Writer Unboxed UnConference will kick off on Monday, November 4th in Salem, Massachusetts, and span the week, culminating in a 4-hour intensive workshop by Donald Maass on Friday, November 8th and a wrap-up party. Sessions will take place in The House of the Seven Gables Visitors Center, and the Hawthorne Hotel’s Ballroom and Library.

What follows is a rough look at the schedule.

  • Monday: check-in between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. (EST) in the Library, followed by a welcome dinner in the Ballroom at the Hawthorne Hotel
  • Tuesday: a mix of sessions and workshops at the hotel and The House of the Seven Gables; a genre-meetup; and an evening “Book Therapy” session
  • Wednesday: a mix of sessions and workshops at the hotel and The House of the Seven Gables; and an evening session/contest event (details to be unveiled at a later date)
  • Thursday: a mix of sessions and workshops at the hotel and The House of the Seven Gables; and an evening group-share event, “Illuminations”
  • Friday: morning sessions at the hotel; a four-hour intensive workshop with Donald Maass; a lunch session with Brunonia Barry; a final panel discussion; and an after-dinner party in the ballroom

Learn more–and register–on Eventbrite.

We hope to see you in Salem! Write on.


Writer Unboxed began as a collaboration between aspiring novelists Therese Walsh and Kathleen Bolton in January, 2006. Since then the site has grown to include ~40 regular contributors–including bestselling authors and industry leaders–and frequent guests. You can follow Writer Unboxed on Twitter, or join our thriving Facebook community.

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About Mary Ellen Bellusci

Mary Ellen Bellusci is a longtime resident of Baltimore, Maryland... A foodie, traveler, writer, and pursuer of happiness.