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January 23 @ 10:30 am - 12:00 pm

Let your YA characters drive your plot


A lot of young adult (YA) fiction writers start with character, and struggle when it comes to plot, but there are ways to use a deep understanding of your main character to develop plot from their desires and create a meaningful story that resonates with readers. This class will start with some examples from well-known youth literature to illuminate how plot comes from character. We will then do an exercise to draw out our own character’s desires, fears, and secrets, and brainstorm ideas for actionable plans they could pursue to get what they want and/or avoid what they don’t. We will also explore what might be keeping them from realizing their goals, internally or externally. We will then do a writing prompt to explore a scene that includes desire and/or fear, action based on those, and obstacles keeping them from what they want or confronting them with their fear, based on the previous exercise. In conclusion, we will talk about how this can spool out to create plot for a novel-length manuscript, and discuss our own revelations and ideas that were triggered by the class.


This class will be presented virtually via Zoom. Tuition for the 90-minute workshop is $30.00. Write On members receive a 10% discount. To become a member, please click here. To register online for this class, please click the button below. For other registration options, please call 920.868.1457. Registrants will receive the link to join via Zoom 2-3 days prior to the workshop.


Miriam McNamara was born in Ireland, raised in the Southern United States, and now lives in the Midwest. She has an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She has never flown a biplane, but she loves to dance. She is the author of two queer historical novels, An Impossible Distance to Fall and The Unbinding of Mary Reade. She lives in Minneapolis, but also calls Asheville, North Carolina home.

Author’s Statement:

I fell in love with reading when I was young. Books enabled me to understand my experience of the world and my interior emotional landscape better. They made me feel connected to the world around me and helped me be empathetic to the experiences of others. But when I became a young adult, I began to discover that I was different from the protagonists of my favorite novels in one very important way. I searched for characters struggling with their sexuality in the books available to me, but it was impossible to find stories that represented the experience I was having as an LGBTQ+ teen. I didn’t find books with queer protagonists until I was in college, and it was a heady revelation. There were people like me out there that weren’t tragic sidekicks! Our stories were worth telling! When I began to write, I was determined to write queer stories for the young person that I had been. Those teens are still out there, desperate for stories that mirror their journey so that they can understand their world more deeply and feel connected to a broader community. I began writing seriously in 2009. After graduating with my MFA in 2012, I wrote and sold two young adult novels with queer protagonists. The first won the gold medal for young adult fiction from the Independent Publisher’s Book Awards, and the second earned the silver medal in the same category the following year. I am currently working on my third LGBTQ+ young adult novel, a contemporary fiction set in Minneapolis and rural Wisconsin.


January 23
10:30 am - 12:00 pm
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