Master Class Workshops

Four days of close personal guidance in small groups with living masters of their genres. Choose from Fiction, Memoir, Screenwriting, Poetry and others.


4 Days | Monday November 5th – Thursday November 8th |  9:00am to 4:00pm

The Power of Words: Writing/Righting Our Lives

Memoir | A workshop collaboration with Amy Ferris and Linda Schreyer

Everyone has a story. Every woman, every man. Whether it’s deeply personal or greatly inspired. Whether it’s a long-held secret, or a long-held dream; every one of us has a story we want to tell, share, write about and get down on the page. And most of us don’t know where or how to begin. It’s daunting, it’s scary; the first word, the first sentence; bringing to life the very first paragraph.

This workshop is all about igniting those words. It is a prompt inspired workshop – one word leads to another word, leads to another word, leads to a sentence or two or three…and leads to a story.

Amy Ferris and Linda Schreyer are collaborating on this extraordinary writing workshop dedicated to the irrefutable power of words and story telling; sharing those stories, the one’s we’ve kept hidden, the ones we dare share; the ones we’ve tucked away out fear and shame and humiliation. The ones we’ve imagined and concocted, and yes, dreamed about. Sharing our stories – taking that huge leap of creative faith – inspires others to be brave – courageous – to tell and share and write their story.

The stories that move & shake & rattle the universe – the stories that save our lives, the stories that change the world: those are the very stories we’re going to share in this workshop.

What is your story?

A small group workshop | 4 full days | 6 hours per day

The Life of Poetry

Poetry | Ellen Bass, with Roxan McDonald

This workshop will be an opportunity to engage our greatest resources: attention, courage, precision, imagination. We’ll strive for language that is accurate, fresh, and alive and we’ll learn strategies to help us write poems whose form, music, rhythm, diction, and meaning work together to bring new poems into being. We’ll read model poems by contemporary poets and discuss specific aspects of the craft. We’ll help each other to become clearer, go deeper, take new risks. With the safety, support, and inspiration of this gathering, you may surprise yourself in creating poems that are more vivid, more true, more complex and powerful than you’ve ever written before. Both experienced and beginning poets are welcome, as well as prose writers who want to enrich their language.

“There is a vitality, a life-force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action. And because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium, and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”  —Martha Graham

A small group workshop | 4 full days | 6 hours per day


4 Days | Monday 11/5 – Thursday 11/8  |  9:00am to 12:00

Write The Script Only You Can Write

Screenwriting | with Jeff Arch

Too often, writers try and out-guess the market when they select the material they want to work on. And all too often, those scripts are based on an original, groundbreaking script that seemed to come out of nowhere – but they didn’t. They came out of the hearts and souls of writers with a burning desire and a story to tell, that was as unique as the writers themselves. Up and coming writers need to understand that their only real way in, is to tap into their own deep insides, their own broken hearts, their own experiences – no matter what the story or genre happen to be – and fashion a story from there. That doesn’t always mean write about your own life – it means whatever you’re writing about, put your own life in it. Because what makes any story ‘universal’ is the honesty and clarity of the writing, and the sure-handedness of the storytelling. That means an understanding of structure, and a dedication to developing your craft — that’s how we set the table for the art to come through. Whether you come to the workshop with an idea or a partially or fully-written script, Jeff’s commitment is to help you find the diamond inside it, and develop the rest from there. You will hear more than you want to about “craft craft CRAFT” – but just like the drill sergeant in all those war movies, what you hate in your training, you’ll be grateful for in the field.

We’ll start with developing the dreaded logline. For some students, it could take the whole workshop just to get that – but having a good solid logline can save you weeks and months of writing time, as well as the frustration and exhaustion of spinning your wheels because you don’t know where to go next. For the students who already have a workable logline, we’ll discuss how to develop it in the best way possible, using all the cinematic tools a writer has at hand. There will also be plenty of time to discuss the life of the working writer – what it’s like when you finally break through, and how to meet the challenges of success – something very few people think about or anticipate, and often to their detriment. We want to make sure that you don’t just get there, but that you can stay there too.

A small group workshop | 4 half days | 3 hours per day

Turning Life into Art

Memoir & Fiction | Christina Baker Kline, with Kristin Hannah and Alice Hoffman

Christina Baker Kline will be joined by Kristin Hannah and Alice Hoffman to lead this class. This is a rare opportunity to learn from these three wonderful authors in an intimate three-day experience.

Christina, Kristin, and Alice will each share their perspectives on how personal life experiences inspire the creation of fiction. They will discuss the power of writing about one’s own past and family history, looking particularly at how memory, ritual, and visual prompts can serve as points of departure. You will be guided in exercises that will get you reflecting on and writing about your own life – and family – in ways that will surprise you.

This class will be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to work with these beloved authors. You will learn from them how to dive into your past and emerge with your own unique pearls of truth. Whether you are writing fiction or memoir, this workshop will transform and deeply enrich your writing.

The Kauai Writers Conference is thrilled and honored to offer this class.

Christina Baker Kline’s A Piece of the World and Orphan Train, Kristin Hannah’s The Great Alone and The Nightingale, and Alice Hoffman’s The Rules of Magic are all deeply personal works. None of them are memoir, but all of them derive depth and richness from personal life experiences.

A small group workshop | 3 half days | 4 hours per day

Tuesday Nov. 6th – Thursday Nov. 8th

Navigating Today’s New Publishing Landscape: A Roadmap for Authors

Publishing | with Jon Fine and April Eberhardt

Jon Fine and April Eberhardt are two of the most knowledgeable and respected authorities on independent publishing. Together they will lead this class designed to help authors to understand the new and fast-changing world of publishing. This is an invaluable chance to learn the pros and cons of traditional publishing, assisted publishing, and self-publishing.

In his role as Director of Author and Publisher Relations for Amazon, Jon was a force in the evolution of the industry toward alternatives to the standard model of author / agent / editor / publishing house / publicist. As an author advocate, April has helped hundreds of writers to find their best path to publication and successful sales.

Topics will include case studies of authors who have forged successful careers through non-traditional publishing, tools to help each participant make smart choices about the publishing route that gives them the best odds of success, and little-known details about each of the leading alternative publishing platforms. Attendees will come out of this class with a clear understanding of all the options available to them and thorough knowledge of which of them is their best bet, how to approach it, and how to optimize the chance for their books to reach a wide audience.

A small group workshop | 4 half days | 3 hours per day


4 Days | Monday 11/5 – Thursday 11/8  |  1:00pm to 4:00pm

Voice is Everything

Fiction | with Nicholas Delbanco

It is an honor and a privilege to have Nicholas Delbanco conduct a workshop at the Kauai Writers Festival.

John Updike said Delbanco “wrestles with the abundance of his gifts as a novelist the way other men wrestle with their deficiencies.” He is a writer that other writers, including many of the most celebrated, look up to and have sought out for advice. He’s served as both chairman of the fiction panel of the National Book Awards and as a judge for, among other contests, the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award in Fiction..

Delbanco is the author of twenty-nine books, both fiction and nonfiction. He was the founding director of the Bennington Writing Workshops and served for many years as head of the esteemed creative writing program at University of Michigan. There he was director of the Hopwood Awards Program, the oldest and best known series of writing prizes in the academy.

In The Art of Fiction, John Gardner paraphrases Delbanco, who “remarked that by the age of four one has experienced nearly everything one needs as a writer of fiction: love, pain, loss, boredom, rage, guilt, fear of death.” Yet Delbanco’s recent book, Lastingness, the Art of Old Age, reflects on the qualities that transcend age in the lives of authors. His most recent work of non-fiction, “Curiouser and Curiouser: Essays” continues that exploration, both in personal and in professional terms.
Delbanco has a unique voice. His workshop will focus on helping writers find and refine their own individual voices. He says: “My notion of a failed writing workshop is when everybody comes out replicating the teacher and imitating as closely as possible the great original at the head of the table.” Instead, in his storied career of helping authors, he has found the gift of identifying, honing, and perfecting the individual style of each one.

We can promise that those fortunate enough to find a spot in Delbanco’s workshop will find it a seminal event in their writing careers.

A small group workshop | 4 half days | 3 hours per day

Finding & Working with an Agent

Publishing | with Jeff Kleinman

A frank workshop that not only evaluates your novel, memoir, or narrative nonfiction (focusing on premise, voice, character, and momentum) but also works on making your book as marketable as possible, learning about how to research and select appropriate agents, as well as draft effective query letters. Participants will workshop their own and the group’s work, and then participate in several nuts-and-bolts exercises designed to immediately improve their craft – with an eye toward publication.

A small group workshop | 4 half days | 3 hours per day

5-Sense Psychology

Character | with Joshua Mohr

This seminar will examine how setting might be a useful frame of reference for rendering a character’s inner life, the heartbeats and brainwaves of our main players. For if we’re interested in plumbing the existential depths of our protagonists, perhaps our readers need to traverse the mind and metaphorical heart as a 360 degree location, the setting of the mind.

Camaraderie between reader and main character is vital if we’re to establish a lasting, poignant connection between them. But how do we go about building that? What if we render a character’s consciousness as though it’s a cogent ecosystem for the reader to inhabit?

During the course, students will be led through all five senses – touch, taste, sight, smell, hearing –learning how to translate these perceptions into opportunities to enhance thought process and psychic access on the page. Through in-class reading and writing prompts, students will practice each sense, cementing an understanding on how to bring these techniques straight into your work-in-progress, building dynamic inner lives for your characters, places for your reader to curl up and listen to the whispers of the heart.

A small group workshop | 4 half days | 3 hours per day

Your Author Platform: How to Build an Audience before You Have a Published Book

Publishing | with David Henry Sterry and Arielle Eckstut

Most people don’t become writers because they love promotion and marketing. It seems grossly unfair, but nowadays publishers expect you to be able to get your book into the world. It’s no longer enough just to have a good–or even great–book.

Who is your audience? And how will you reach them? You must be able to answer these questions as they are the keystones of getting successfully published. By understanding your audience and where your book fits on the bookshelf, you’ll be able to put together a master marketing plan.

In this master class, we’ll do a deep dive into what it means to truly understand and connect with your audience. You’ll learn how to get pre-publication blurbs, speak articulately to the value of your book, establish an online presence, develop a speaking career, find media outlets for your writing now, and much more.

You’ll come out of this master class with a professional quality pitch that’s agent and publisher-ready, as your pitch is the key to getting anyone and everyone excited about your work. You’ll also come out with a plan for to how to best market yourself and your particular book.

We think it’s the most exciting time to get published and find your readers. Come find out why!


Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry are co-founder of The Book Doctors. a company dedicated to helping writers get successfully published. They are the authors of 25 books, including The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published, the go-to resource on the subject. They have appeared everywhere from NPR’s Morning Edition to The New York Times to The Wall Street Journal to USA Today.


Arielle is also an agent-at-large at The Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary Agency where she represents Kwame Alexander, Nikki Giovanni…and David Henry Sterry! David is also an actor and screenwriter whose one-man show based on his memoir, Chicken, was named the number one show at the Edinburgh Festival, Fringe by The Independent.

A small group workshop | 4 half days | 3 hours per day

Are you preparing a manuscript for publishing?

Sign-up for your manuscript critique sessions and pitch sessions with with top literary agents, or work one-on-one with publishers or publishing consultants.

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