Instructor: Chris Holm 
Date & Time: Saturday, June 16 10:30 AM to 3:30 PM 
Location: Creative Writing House at University of Maine, Farmington 
Level: Open 
Maximum Attendees: 12 
Fee: Member: $60  | Nonmember: $115 
Registration Closes:  June 11

These days, readers are a distracted lot. Writers are forced to compete with the siren songs of YouTube, Netflix, and social media—not to mention the twenty-four-hour news cycle—for their attention. That’s why it’s more imperative than ever to grab them on the first page and never let them go.

Plot and character are important, but neither matters if a writer fails to construct gripping scenes. Regardless of the genre, a good scene requires a taut structure and a compelling point of view. Setting, dialogue, and action must work together to keep the audience engaged. And to really sink the hook, an element of the unexpected is also essential.

The problem is, modern readers are pretty savvy. They may not realize it, but they’ve internalized the basics of story structure, and they’re intimately familiar with the tropes that writers frequently lean on. That makes them difficult to surprise—but it also means their expectations can be used against them.

This workshop will identify the essential ingredients of any good scene and highlight techniques the masters employ to make their readers miss their bus stops. To underscore the importance of dramatic structure, an excerpt will be provided prior to the workshop for attendees to divide into chapters as they see fit, and the results will be discussed during the session. Short, focused writing prompts will be employed to teach attendees how to avoid cliché and subvert audience expectations.

HolmChris Holm is the author of the Collector trilogy, which blends crime and fantasy, and the Michael Hendricks thrillers. His first Hendricks novel, The Killing Kind, was named a New York Times Editors’ Choice, a Boston Globe Best Book of 2015, and Strand Magazine’s #1 Book of 2015. It won the 2016 Anthony Award for Best Novel, and was also nominated for a Barry, a Lefty, and a Macavity. His second Hendricks novel, Red Right Hand, was named a Boston Globe Best Book of 2016 and nominated for the 2017 Anthony Award for Best Novel. Chris’s short stories have appeared in such publications as Ellery Queen’s Mystery MagazineAlfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, and The Best American Mystery Stories 2011. Chris lives in Portland, Maine.

All MWPA workshops require advanced registration. We accept registration by phone, mail, and online via PayPal. We cannot guarantee registration in the final 24-hours before a workshop, and can rarely accommodate day-of registration.

Call 207-228-8263 and register with your VISA or MasterCard.

If you prefer to pay by mail, please print this registration form (downloadable PDF) and mail it to the MWPA with a check or credit card information.



The MWPA is proud to offer one full scholarship to this workshop for members-only. Scholarships are awarded on a combination of need and merit. Application Due in the MWPA office on June 4 at 9:00 a.m.

Registration in any MWPA workshop, program, or event constitutes your agreement to our terms and conditions.