Storycrafting Sessions: Story Structure

Join us for this free, one-day virtual conference all about plot and story structure. Below you’ll find a list of all the panels and guests. The event will be held on July 3, 2021. Live captions will be available, and all videos will be posted to Youtube and will be linked on this page following the event. You can register for your chosen session by clicking the links below.

Plot vs Story: Balancing Action and Emotion

Moderated by Steven Savage
Featuring Cait GordonStephen Graham KingCrystal StormJenn Gott

One of the most difficult aspects of pacing a fiction project is balancing the external plot arc with the internal character arc. In this panel, authors will explore how they balance action and emotion when planning their work. They’ll also discuss the nuances of balancing physical movement and emotion in action scenes.

Sign up here!

Identifying and Developing Secondary Genre in SFF

Moderated by Jade Benjamin
Featuring: Katherine ForristerCeleste HarteKellie DohertyLex Vranick

While primary or ‘commercial’ genres like Sci Fi and Fantasy set important worldbuilding guidelines and expectations for writers, secondary genres — also known as content or internal genre — are also vital tools for developing vivid and complex stories. Identifying and developing secondary genre(s) can help you understand tropes and reader expectations, navigate the extensive and growing library of existing subgenre labels, and better align the commercial and content potential of your story.

Sign up here!

Beyond the Hero’s Journey: Alternative Story Structures

Moderated by Mato Steger

Featuring Jade Benjamin, Joyce Reynolds-WardJimi RodriguezJo LadzinskiJasmine Gower

The classic Heroic Quest or the Hero’s Journey — also known as the Archplot or Three Act structure — is a well-respected cornerstone of study for writers, but it’s just the beginning! Beyond the Hero’s Journey will discuss alternative plot and structure mechanisms, and how you can use them to more effectively organize the energy of your story.

Sign up here!

How to Plot a Series

Moderated by Dianna Gunn

Featuring: Dan FitzgeraldMary Kit CaelstoSagan MorrowSamantha Kroese

These authors don’t write stand-alone novels or even trilogies; their series are more than four books long. In this panel, they’ll share how to plot a multi-book storyline while still making each novel a compelling story.

Sign up here!

Editors Talk: How to Self-Evaluate Your Story Structure

Moderated by Nicole Zelniker

Featuring: Emelyne MuseauxHannah Van VelsJeni ChappelleCrystal L. KirkhamStephi Cham

This panel of editors will share how to evaluate and refine your story structure before sending your work to an editor. They’ll also share some of the most common structure mistakes they see.

Sign up here!

Conference Companion

Conference Companion Cover

Enhance your experience and support Weeknight Writers events by grabbing the Conference Companion workbook for this event. This printable workbook will help you track important information during the Storycrafting Session: Exploring Story Structure. This includes:

  • “Notes” areas for individual panels
  • An area to record overall lessons and feelings about the conference
  • Questions to help you implement lessons from the conference in your writing practice

These worksheets will help you make the most of the Exploring Story Structure event! Proceeds from this workbook will be used to host, manage, and promote future Weeknight Writers events. Buy your copy today!


Author Steven Savage

Steve Savage writes extensively on how people can leverage their creativity in a variety of ways.  He’s most well known for the Way With World series of Worldbuidling books, an ever-growing collection of guides to coach people on creating fictional settings.  The series is currently at seventeen books and counting.

He is also writes the Avenoth series, about the adventures and misadventures of people in a solar system of sorcery, super-science, internet-using gods, and interplanetary demons.  The first book, A Bridge To The Quiet Planet was released in 2018, with the sequel, A School Of Many Futures arriving this year.

Find him at Steve’s website or his press site. He also maintains the random tools site Seventh Sanctum.

Cait Gordon headshot

Cait (pronounced like ‘cat’) Gordon is a Canadian disability advocate who writes speculative fiction that celebrates the reality of diversity. Originally from Verdun, Québec, Cait worked for over two decades as a technical writer, then channelled her love for words into storytelling.

She is the author of the humorous space adventures Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers.

In 2016, Cait founded The Spoonie Authors Network to connect with writers in the disability community. Her desire to find better disabled and autistic representation in fiction prompted Cait to co-edit Nothing Without Us with Talia C. Johnson. The multi-genre anthology features authors and protagonists who are disabled, Deaf, neurodiverse, and/or they manage mental illness. Nothing Without Us was included in the syllabus of a disability studies course at Trent University and earned a 2020 Prix Aurora Award nomination.

Find Cait at

Stephen Graham King

Stephen Graham King (He/They) is a writer of space opera novels, re-imagining the classic genre and its high tech adventurers through an unabashedly queer lens. His stories have appeared in the anthologies North of Infinity II, Desolate Places and Ruins Metropolis. His books include Chasing Cold, and the novels in his Maverick Heart series: Soul’s Blood, Gatecrasher, A Congress of Ships, and the forthcoming Ghost Light Burn, due later this year. He is also a long term survivor of metastatic synovial sarcoma and an avid black and white street photographer. He can be found online, along with all his social media coordinates, at

Jenn Gott headshot

Jenn Gott is an author, fangirl, and jack of all hobbies whose books include the critically-acclaimed lesbian superhero novel The Private Life of Jane Maxwell. She lives in a fairytale forest where, when she’s not writing, you can usually find her playing life simulation games, sketching, or entertaining her rambunctious cat. Find her at

Crystal Storm Headshot

Crystal Storm is a woman of many hats (pun intended. She has a wall full of fedoras). She’s 4’11, hates mornings, and is a night owl. Her aliases are WooWoo and C-Money. Readers find her dedicated to giving them stories that encourage them to find ways to make the mundane magical.

A busy creativeprenuer, Crystal hosts a weekly vodcast/podcast on scifi and metaphysical topics, video reviews books (and sometimes movies), streams video games on twitch and three times a week you can hangout with her playing tabletop games.

Crystal is currently writing the next book in the Synarchy Series while sharing her creative process to give readers an immersive experience into the Universe of Synarchy. You can learn more by visiting her website

Katherine Forrister is an author of speculative fiction with a love of fantasy, history, science, and romance. Her dark fantasy romance novel, Lodestone, is forthcoming from GenZ Publishing in 2021, her historical fantasy romance, The Hand-me-down Maiden, is forthcoming from GenZ Publishing in 2022, and her science fiction romance novel, Curio Citizen, is forthcoming from Inkshares, Inc.

Prior to her writing career, Katherine attended Kennesaw State University, and Gwinnett Technical College, focusing on the subjects of theater and performance studies and veterinary technology.

She lives near Kansas City with her family, where she enjoys local festivals and conventions, hiking, playing open-world video games, and curling up on the sofa to read on cold winter days.

Celeste Harte is an African-American writer living in Spain. She loves reading and writing sci-fi and fantasy, and is obsessed with all things mermaids and dragons.

When she’s not building worlds and getting lost in her own fantasies, she’s probably dancing to random music or watching (yet another) Korean drama. In addition to her native language, she speaks Spanish and Catalan almost fluently, some French, and would love to learn Korean.

My name is Kellie Doherty. I am an author and publishing professional who lives in Eagle River, Alaska. Living in Alaska gives me an appreciation for nature, a hankering for a good cup of tea (or cider), and a passion for all things below zero. During those dark, winter nights, I kept myself busy by writing stories and creating characters. After spending time in already created universes writing fanfiction, I decided to build my own. I’ve crafted many different worlds since then, and I still write fanfic under the name SerenityQuill. In my free time, I like to read, go for hikes, and watch more YouTube videos than I probably should.

My debut novel Finding Hekate was published by Desert Palm Press in April 2016 and it’s sequel Losing Hold was published in April 2017. I’m currently working on a five-book fantasy series titled the Broken Chronicles and the first book Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties launched on March 27, 2019. Book two, Curling Vines & Crimson Trades, launched on Nov. 30, 2020. Check out my Books section for more information! I’ve also been involved with some other writing projects, like anthologies and zine publications, which you can check out by clicking the Other Writing Projects section. My work has been featured in 49 Writers Alaska Shorts, Pathos Literary Magazine, the Chugiak Eagle River Star, F Magazine, and Alaska Women Speak, among others. I also have a blog Have Pen, Will Pen in which I talk about writing, publishing, life updates, and a whole host of geeky stuff, including my two cats!

Lex Vranick is an independent poet and fiction author. She is the author of three self-published titles. Lex is a member of the Long Island Writer’s Guild and a student at Gotham Writer’s Workshop. She is a ten-time participant and nine-time winner of National Novel Writing Month. Her work has appeared in the Mind Poetry Project anthology Please Hear What I’m Not Saying and the online literary journal Cagibi.

Her books are available on Amazon!

Sagan Morrow is a productivity strategist and romance novelist with a degree in Rhetoric, Writing & Communication. She has a decade of experience as a businesswoman, blogger, and copywriter across a variety of industries.

Sagan specializes in helping multi-passionate creatives improve their time and energy management, so they can get more done in less time–without the burnout or overwhelm. She has authored several business books and teaches online courses to empower solopreneurs as they grow their own successful businesses. She also provides extensive articles and free productivity resources for new & struggling freelancers on her blog.

When Sagan isn’t teaching productivity tips to multi-passionate creatives or doing freelance work for clients, she spends her time writing romance novels. Her debut series, Polyamorous Passions, features contemporary new adult romantic comedy novellas. Through a fun, lighthearted lens, Polyamorous Passions explores modern relationships and the internal conflicts we face when our true desires divert from societal norms.

Based in Winnipeg, Canada, Sagan is a hobbyist burlesque dancer and identifies as polyamorous. The Polyamorous Passions series is her first foray into fiction.

Learn more about Sagan’s behind-the-scenes journey of writing books in the Indie Author Weekly podcast, or connect with Sagan on Twitter & Instagram: @Saganlives

Samantha Kroese is the author of published Dark Fantasy novels including the best-selling Fading Lights Trilogy (Forbidden, Unspoken, Taboo). She has also written the Assassins of Dakaal series (Regret, Ladykiller, and Niyx) and the villain POV novels Restless Dreams of Darkness and The Darkest Sword. She loves to write dark tales about hope surviving against impossible odds and brings a refreshing perspective to the genre. From a young age, her goal has been to write stories that will shine the light of hope for those living in the abyss. She has been writing fiction for nearly thirty years, ran a fantasy writer’s critique circle for fifteen years, and has edited works for other authors. She has completed writing dozens of fantasy novels and created thousands of detailed characters. She hopes to be able to present most of them to her reading public in due course.

Samantha is also an avid life-long gamer who enjoys story-driven role-playing video games. A big fan of comic books and superheroes, she enjoys exploring tales of characters who are larger than life and the ordinary people who interact with them. In addition to writing, she is an avid horse lover and an animal rescue advocate, often speaking out for horse rescue and feral cat causes. She writes from the frozen tundra of Minnesota where she lives with her Arabian stallion, that she is convinced is really a unicorn, and her army of delightful rescued cat minions.

Mato J. Steger is an openly out and proud Queer and Anishinaabe (North American Indigenous) fantasy and sci-fi writer, who can’t resist making everything he touches a romance. He is proudly represented by Hannah VanVels of BelCastro Literary Agency.

Jeni Chappelle

I am a freelance editor with more than ten years of editing experience and a lifetime of word nerdiness. In my editing, I use my own internal conflict between logic and creativity to help authors shape their stories and bring their books out into the world. I have edited a wide variety of fiction and nonfiction in all age groups and have had the pleasure of working with over one hundred authors from all over the world, including bestselling and award-winning authors.

I’m a member of Editorial Freelancers Association and ACES, a co-founder and editor for Twitter pitch event Revise & Resub (#RevPit), co-host of the Indie Chicks and Story Chat Radio podcasts, and co-creator and Editorial Director for Writer In Motion.

I consider myself a hobbit (minus the big, hairy feet) and live in a tiny town near Charlotte, NC with my family and way too many pets: three dogs, eight cats, four fancy rats, a rabbit, and an aquatic turtle.

​I edit all genres of fiction for middle grade and up but especially love elements of fantasy, history, and mystery. I get really excited by underrepresented cultures; stories that work real-world concerns into fictional settings; characters with psychologically-sound motivations and reactions; realistic non-romantic relationships (although I love a good romance too!); and new twists on old favorites—whether that’s character, plot, concept, or tropes.

Crystal L. Kirkham

I started writing in high school. I stopped when I went to college and started again 2008. Since that I started writing again, I haven’t stopped. I published my first book, Road to Redemption, in October 2016. After that came the year I decided to take my writing seriously. 2018 when I released Depths of Darkness and signed my first publishing contract for my next full novel, Feathers and Fae. In 2019 I expanded my horizons and started writing short stories, microfiction, and drabbles. I’ve now had work published in multiple anthologies. 

​Of course, when I am not writing or editing, I can often be found competing in dog shows and dog sports. Or driving to BC or Saskatchewan to visit family. But mostly, you’ll find me writing or editing. Of course, no surprise here, I also work a full-time job on top of all of this in the Alberta oilfield. 

​If you want to know something that I don’t talk about here, drop me an email or get in touch via one of my social media sites. I will do my best to try to answer your questions!

Stephi Cham has loved stories all her life. At 11 years old, she vowed to become a writer, before she realized she had been one for years. She is a board-certified music therapist and an editor at Write Plan, where she works with nonfiction and fiction books of various genres and topics. Born in the United States and raised in both America and Taiwan, Stephi is an avid lover of fantasy who spends most of her time editing, reading, and playing music. She loves to share writing advice and pictures of her two dogs.

Jimi Rodriguez is an author from Houston, TX. After graduating from The Ohio State University, he became a teacher in his hometown. He went on to obtain a Master’s Degree from Ohio University. He lives in Houston with his wife and two children.

For years, he told his students stories of the characters in From Chaos Comes Order. The characters were a work of friendship, as many major roles in the story were conceived by his friends in writing and life. Finally, he created the series From Chaos Comes Order. Book One: Chaos is his debut novel. From Chaos Comes Order is planned to have four books in total. Book Two: Destroyer is coming soon!

Jo Ladzinski was born in Poland and currently lives in Chicago as a wordsmith. When they’re not a marketing manager for a major digital publisher, they’re an artist who loves kettlebells, writing, rewriting, bullet journaling, painting, and curling up with their Kindle learning from other authors. They cook gluten-free and listen to mid-naughts European techno and anime soundtracks.

They have been a panelist at the 2020 Nebulas Conference and Sirens Conference 2019.

Jo is the hypest about most things.

Jasmine Gower, author of Moonshine and other queer fantasy works, hails from Portland, Oregon. Jasmine received a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Arts in Book Publishing from Portland State University.

Inspired to write by a childhood filled with fantasy novels, 90s video games, and the curious experience of growing up in the rural Willamette Valley, Jasmine has a passion for exploring themes of gender, sexuality, and disability through the conventions of speculative fiction, mythology, and fantasy world-building.

Jasmine is represented by Laura Zats at Headwater Literary Management.

Dianna Gunn headshot

Dianna Gunn is a freelance writer by day and a fantasy author by night. Her sword and sorcery novel, Moonshadow’s Guardian, was released in November 2018. 

When she’s not writing, Gunn can be found working to develop the indie author community. She hosts the #WeeknightWriters Twitter chat at 7PM EST and runs the Author Marketing Club.

Dan Fitzgerald is a fantasy writer living in Washington, DC with his wife, twin boys and two cats. When he is not writing, he might be gardening, doing yoga or cooking while listening to French music. His upcoming trilogy, the Maer Cycle, involves an encounter with a lost tribe of humanity ensconced in legend as monsters.

Dan can be found at or on Twitter as @DanFitzWrites, discussing writing and fantasy worldbuilding.

Mary Kit Caelsto never grew out of the phase of being a “horse crazy girl”. Though she’s now over 40, she’s finally fulfilling her dream of writing equestrian books for others who haven’t grown out of being “horse crazy”. She lives in the Ozarks with her four very spoiled and very opinionated horses, as well as a large flock of poultry and enough cats to qualify her as a crazy cat lady. Her husband, though not an equestrian himself, understands and supports all her equestrian dreams.

It was horses that brought her into fantasy through Mercedes Lackey’s Companions. From there, she loves reading all kinds of speculative fiction, though she admits her favorite stories have strong animal characters.

She played the clarinet in high school, which prompted her Musimagium world, and now, she loves mixing the animals she loves with music and magic in her fantasy world.

She’s convinced three of the best things in the world are the smell of a sun warmed horse, the smell of leather tack, and making sure to hug her horses every single day.

Nicole Zelniker is an author and a producer at The Nasiona. She graduated from the Columbia Journalism School in 2018.

In 2015, Nicole worked with Triad City Beat as their investigative intern. She is the former editor-in-chief (2016-2017) at The Guilfordian, the Guilford College newspaper. In addition to writing for publications such as USA TodayThe Pulitzer PrizesThe NasionaNew VoicesYes! WeeklyThe Pensive Post, and The Odyssey Online, Nicole has also been republished in several publications, including The Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionCNBCSalon, and WFMY.

A creative writer as well as a journalist, Nicole has published several short stories: Last Dance (The Hungry Chimera),  Lucky (Fixional), Dress Rehearsal (littledeathlit), Snap (The Nassau Review), Hands (Newtown Literary and Ginosko Literary under the title Breathe), Atlanta (New Reader Magazine), Dollhouse (101 Proof Horror), and Mother’s Day (Peregrine). Dress Rehearsal also appeared in the Nothing Without Us anthology. Nicole won the Rachel Lindner Leahy Award in 2017 for her creative writing.

Emelyne Museaux

I am a voracious reader turned editor, ghostwriter, and sensitivity/diversity reader with a passion for not only honing my own craft, but also helping other writers polish and perfect their work. My services are crafted with a reader’s preferences, a writer’s autonomy, and an editor’s expertise in mind. I work directly with authors to ensure that their voice and message is not lost, only made sharper, clearer, and more eloquent. As an editor and a sensitivity/diversity reader, I seek to bridge the gap between what’s in a writer’s mind, and the message which the reader or viewer will ultimately receive.

I have accumulated over 10 years of experience in editing manuscripts for non-fiction, screenplays, short stories, and novels in genres ranging from middle grade coming-of-age, to young adult dystopia, to adult science fiction. I enjoy reading an eclectic mix of material, and working with a variety of diverse individuals in order to help make writers’ messages resonate. In the past 3 years, I have worked with many intelligent, witty, informative, and thought-provoking people who have a great book inside of them, but lack the time or skills to write it via ghostwriting and bringing their ideas to life on the page!

Hannah VanVels is an agent with Belcastro Agency. Hannah has worked various bookish jobs including a stint as a bookseller at Barnes & Noble, a freelance editor for scholarly and academic essays and journals, and most recently as the acquiring editor at a young adult imprint with HarperCollins Publishing. Hannah loves working closely with authors and coming alongside them to make their vision come to life on page. She lives on Lake Michigan with her partner, two German Shepherds, and two cats.

You can find Hannah on Twitter @HannahVanVels or on her website.

Storycrafting Sessions are brought to you by the Weeknight Writers. Additionally, we would like to thank Renaissance Press for sponsoring the Story Structure virtual event. This conference would not be possible without their support, and we would like to express our deepest thanks.

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