Monday, December 24, 2018

Creating Narrative Tension in a Novel or Script

A short video by Bill Johnson about how to create and sustain narrative tension in a novel, screenplay, or play. A story that lacks narrative tension risks being episodic, a series of events that fail to have dramatic or emotional impact. Bill is available to teach a narrative tension workshop online and to review manuscripts. Originally this video was created for an online class taught by Bill Johnson for Pennwriters. 

For more information about Bill, visit his website at

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Poetry with Kim Stafford, Tim Gillespie and Timothy Kerlin

Join us for a special event with Oregon Poet Laureate Kim Stafford, Tim Gillespie and Timothy Kerlin. This meeting is free and open to the public, and presented in partnership with Free Range Poetry and Portland Ars Poetica.

TUESDAY, December 4, 2018
1422 SW 11th Avenue, Portland
6:30 pm – 8:00 pm

We also invite you to join us for an open mic prior to the featured readers.

Open mic readers are limited to ONE POEM of short to moderate length, and open mic readers may be limited to 15 people. Sign up for open mic begins at 6:00 pm.

Our featured readers include Tim Gillespie, Timothy Kerlin, and Kim Stafford.

About Tim Gillespie

Tim is an almost-four-decade veteran Oregon public school teacher. He was one of the three original founders of the Oregon Writing Festival, which for 35 years has been supporting young Oregon writers. For a decade, he co-directed, with Kim Stafford, the Oregon Writing Project summer institute at Lewis & Clark College. He’s the author of Doing Literary Criticism from Stenhouse Press, and recent poems have been published in Windfall, The Timberline Review, Cloudbank, The Poeming Pigeon, English Journal, and Oregon English.

About Timothy Kerlin

Tim was an English composition teacher for nine years and currently works as a digital content developer with McGraw-Hill. His poems have been published in Literati Quarterly, Superficial Flesh, the Texas Observer, and the Burnside Review

About Kim Stafford

Founding director of the Northwest Writing Institute at Lewis & Clark College, is the author of a dozen books of poetry and prose, including The Muses Among Us: Eloquent Listening and Other Pleasures of the Writer’s Craftand 100 Tricks Every Boy Can Do: How My Brother Disappeared. He has taught writing in dozens of schools and community centers, and in Scotland, Italy, and Bhutan. In May 2018 he was named Oregon’s 9th Poet Laureate by Governor Kate Brown.

About Free Range

Free Range Poetry is a long-running monthly poetry event, always combining an open mic with longer readings by established or emerging poets. Free Range Poetry's aim is to cultivate a welcoming venue for new and familiar voices. You can usually find Free Range Poetry on First Mondays at the NW Multnomah County Library.

About Portland Ars Poetica

Portland Ars Poetica is an ongoing literary poetry workshop open to any Portland-area poet who seeks to hone their practice and craft. Our activities include critique workshops, a poetry book club, calls for submission, and promotion of local performance venues. Find out more about Portland Ars Poetica at

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Don’t miss the 2nd PDX ISA Third Thursdays — November 15th!

Don’t miss the 2nd ISA Third ThursdaysNovember 15th! — a monthly mixer for Portland screenwriters and the film and television community. Mingle with fellow screenwriters, meet film and TV industry professionals, and win door prizes, all in a fun, casual atmosphere.

This event is free and open to all.

Register now for:

Your chance to meet guest speaker TIMOTHY RHYS, publisher of MovieMaker Magazine.
Writer, director and publisher of the world’s best-selling Indie film magazine, Tim Rhys will be on hand to give us his take on current screenwriting and Indie film trends.

Everyone who attends will receive a free digital subscription to MovieMaker Magazine!
(or a discounted one-year subscription to the hard copy magazine)

Plus, our 11/15 ISA event DOOR PRIZES include:

• A 1-year Subscription to ScriptLadder ($95 value) (see info below)

WHEN: Thursday, November 15th - 7pm

WHERE: NW Film Center Office & Classrooms and South Park Restaurant*
NW FILM — 934 SW Salmon, Portland OR, 97205 (10th & Salmon NOT Whitsell Auditorium)
SOUTH PARK — Each event begins at NWC then migrates across the street to South Park.

Special Guest Timothy Rhys
Timothy Rhys is a writer and director who edits and publishes MovieMaker Magazine. He also develops independent motion pictures through his production companies, Vagabond Pictures and Cold Open Pictures. Tim recently produced the feature thriller Indiscretion, starring Academy Award-winner Mira Sorvino, and is currently producing the drama Sitiado. Tim is artistic director of the MovieMaker Institute, which has brought educational film programs around the world since 1997, and heads up MovieMaker Production Services, which assists independent producers. Tim has been a juror at the Hawaii International Film Festival, the New Orleans Film Festival, the New Hampshire Film Festival, the Mammoth Lakes Film Festival, and many others, and serves on the board of the historic Hollywood Theater in Portland, Oregon, where he lives with his wife and two sons.

ScriptLadder Creator, Tim JohnsonTim will also be on hand on November 15 to answer your questions about Scriptladder.
Meet your Hosts:

Mary Andonian is a novelist and screenwriter based in the Northwest. Despite a few prestigious college degrees unrelated to writing (somewhere in there lies a dark story), Mary has authored the teen inspirational book, BITSY’S LABYRINTH (which she also adapted into a screenplay), and the screenplays TIME SHARE, GUARDIAN JOE, THE SOUND OF RAIN and FOUR COLLEGE ESSAYS. She is a former board member of Willamette Writers, one of the largest writers’ associations in the country. Over the years, her passion for writing inspired her to take on leadership roles at the group's annual Willamette Writers Conference, including Program Coordinator and Literary and Film Committee Co-Chair. In those roles, Mary collaborated with scores of Hollywood agents, managers and producers to arrange pitch sessions, seminars and workshops at the conference. Reach Mary at

DAVID POULSHOCK is an award-winning Northwest screenwriter and filmmaker whose work includes TV commercials and corporate films; the best-selling “Wee Sing” kidvids for Universal Home Video; the groundbreaking public television series, “Mathematics Illuminated;” the feature documentary “Raw Materials;” and many other projects. His original screenplays have won accolades from the world’s top screenplay competitions. Prior to his film career, David was keyboardist with the legendary Northwest cult band, Upepo, an Oregon Music Hall of Fame honoree. He has served as adjunct faculty of the Art Institute of Portland, Chairman of the Willamette Writers Conference and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Northwest Academy, and currently serves on the board of Oregon Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (OVLA). Reach David at

Event Sponsors:
The Nickelodeon Writing Program offers emerging television writers from around the world a paid opportunity to develop their craft and launch their careers. While in the Program, writers hone their skills, build a professional network and gain real-world experience in writers' rooms for our critically acclaimed live-action and animated shows. The General Track is a 12-month commitment.
The Northwest Film Center is a non-profit media arts organization devoted to the exhibition of independent film, the education of audiences, emerging artists and youth, and the support of independent filmmakers . NW Film also is also home to Portland International Film Festival, the Northwest Filmmakers Festival and Fresh Film Northwest.
Southpark Seafood is a chic Northwest eatery featuring sustainable seafood, farm-fresh ingredients, and the area’s largest selection of oysters. Locally owned for 20 years, this iconic downtown Portland restaurant continues to be a definitive part of the city’s dining scene.
MovieMaker Magazine is the nation’s leading resource on the art and business of making movies and the world’s most widely read independent film magazine. MovieMaker’s content is directed at the audience as well as the artist, and its lively mix of interviews, trend-setting criticism, DIY techniques, festival coverage, distribution and financing tips, behind-the-scenes indie “war stories” and appreciations of classic Hollywood actors, directors, cinematographers, producers, screenwriters and editors makes MovieMaker Magazine a perennial favorite and trusted brand with cinema artists and discriminating film fans everywhere.
ScriptLadder is a website offering a collection of unique tools to visualize your screenplay structure, exchange notes with colleagues, and host online table-reads. Launched in 2016, ScriptLadder has helped hundreds of writers from 11 countries gain fresh perspective on their screenplays and create even better stories.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Emily Suvada Hosts Willamette Writers November 6th PDX Meeting

Meet Emily Suvada, author of This Mortal Coil and the just released This Cruel Design. This meeting is Tuesday, November 6th at the Old Church, SW 11th and Clay. Doors open at 6:30 pm, speaker at 7:10 to 8:10. Cost is $5 for guests, including MeetUp guests.

From Emily's website:

This Mortal Coil

Shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize!
Shortlisted for Best Young Adult Novel in the Aurealis Awards!
A Junior Library Guild Selection!

“Suvada’s scary, action-packed debut novel barely takes a breath, and its exploration of what makes us human goes well below the surface.” –Publisher’s Weekly


Catarina Agatta is a hacker. She can cripple mainframes and crash though firewalls, but that’s not what makes her special. In Cat’s world, people are implanted with technology to recode their DNA, allowing them to change their bodies in any way they want. And Cat happens to be a gene-hacking genius.

Emily's Bio

Emily Suvada was born in Australia, where she spent her childhood reading, writing, and watching Star Trek. In college, she studied math and astrophysics, and went on to a career in finance before finding her way back to her first love—books.

Today, Emily lives in Portland, OR, with her husband, and still spends most of her free time reading, writing, and watching Star Trek. She also enjoys cooking, coding, powerlifting, hiking, and art. Her interests include AI, nanotech, virtual worlds, space travel, and genetic engineering. She is represented by DongWon Song of the Howard Morhaim Literary Agency.

Emily's novels will be available for sale after the meeting.



Willamette Writers also will have a table at the Portland Book Fair.

Join Literary Arts for the annual Portland Book Festival (formerly Wordstock), presented by Bank of America, returning on November 10, 2018. This one-day event features local and national authors presenting onstage events, pop-up readings, and workshops. Enjoy activities for readers of all ages, an extensive book fair, local food trucks, entry to the Portland Art Museum and more. Gather with your community and celebrate our shared passion for books.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

New Screenwriters Meeting In Portland

Third Thursdays is a monthly event for screenwriters, designed to provide a space to socialize with fellow writers as well as help form relationships with filmmakers, agents, managers and other top industry professionals.

“Third Thursdays was created to bring together screenwriters to support each other to push their careers forward. In this digital age, it is so important to have face-to-face interactions and make real connections with people,” says Molly Kasch, Director of Operations for ISA. “We are excited to be invited by members Mary Andonian and David Poulshock to bring ISA Third Thursdays to Portland.”

According to Andonian, “Oregon is home to a robust screenwriting community. We have incredible screenwriters – from Oscar and Emmy winners to in-the-trenches-working-their-way-up – all living in here,” she says. “This is a great opportunity for us to connect and further the art of screenwriting.”

Portland’s inaugural Third Thursday event will feature guest speaker Tim Williams, Executive Director of Oregon Film, the state agency responsible for advancing the film, video, interactive, animation and creative industries in Oregon. As PDX ISA host Poulshock notes, “Tim will talk about the new wave of film projects now being developed right here at home, starting with a local writer with screenplay. This is going to be great news to hear!”

Portland’s October launch is sponsored by the Nickelodeon Writing Program, Cinequest Screenwriting Competition, Northwest Film Center, Willamette Writers, and South Park Restaurant.

Portland Third Thursdays will take place at Northwest Film Center and South Park Restaurant on October 18th, 2018 at 7:00pm. More information about Third Thursdays events can be found at:

More about the ISA:

Based in Los Angeles, the ISA is dedicated to providing a one-stop shop for all creative needs of screenwriters around the globe. The ISA's web portal ( includes a wealth of information from writing gigs and classes, to podcasts and production resources, to pro industry tips and tricks, while the ever-expanding Development Slate provides a bridge for screenwriters to share their work and executives to view potential projects. With live events held in several cities and four countries, the ISA makes a concerted effort to grow its physical presence as well as its online reach. 
Connect with the ISA on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram @NetworkISA.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Because, Because and The Power of Six-Layered Scenes, with author Eric Witchey

Join Willamette Writers on October 2nd, doors open at 6:30PM, at the Old Church in downtown Portland. to hear speaker and award-winning author Eric Witchey. Witchey will present this short adaptation of material from his Fiction Fluency Seminars. The evening will include an interactive demonstration of use of the “because, because” technique to uncover character psychology and emotional states before writing a scene. Discovered character attributes will then support creation of a six-layered scene that includes three simultaneous levels of conflict and three emotion-supporting layers of setting. Participants will walk away with a step-by-step understanding of the techniques demonstrated. Once understood, these techniques can be used for analysis and revision of existing scenes or for creation of new scenes.
About Eric Witchey

Eric Witchey is a writer, seminar teacher, course developer, process analyst, communication consultant, and conference speaker. He has made a living as a freelance writer and communication consultant for over a quarter century. In addition to many contracted and ghost non-fiction titles, he has sold a number of novels and more than 140 stories. His stories have appeared in 12 genres and on five continents. He has received awards or recognition from New Century Writers, Writers of the Future, Writer’s Digest, Independent Publisher Book Awards, International Book Awards, The Eric Hoffer Prose Award Program, Short Story America, the Irish Aeon Awards, and other organizations. His How-to articles have appeared in The Writer Magazine, Writer’s Digest Magazine, and other print and online magazines.

The meeting is free to members of Willamette Writers and $5 for guests, including MeetUp guests.

For more information, visit

Monday, August 27, 2018

David D. Levine & Wendy N. Wagner in Conversation

Join Willamette Writers for an evening with David D. Levine and Wendy N. Wagner. Levine and Wagner are respected science fiction and fantasy authors. We are honored to listen in on their conversation about writing, submitting, building your writing career, and more. Come early to socialize, drink tea, and network with other writers, and stay late to ask questions and get your books signed. Doors open at 6:30PM September 4th at the Old Church, SW 11th and Clay in Portland, Oregon.

About Wendy N. Wagner

Wendy N. Wagner
Wendy N. Wagner's poetry and short fiction has appeared in over forty venues. Her third novel, An Oath of Dogs, a sci-fi thriller, was released July 2017 from Angry Robot. She is the Managing/Associate Editor of both Lightspeed Magazine and Nightmare Magazine, and served as the Guest Editor of Queers Destroy Horror! She was also the Nonfiction Editor of both Women Destroy Science Fiction! and Women Destroy Fantasy! 

About David D. Levine

David D. Levine
David D. Levine is the multi-award-winning author of the Arabella of Mars series and more than fifty science fiction and fantasy stories. Arabella of Mars won the 2017 Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy and his story "Tk'Tk'Tk" won the 2006 Hugo Award for Best Short Story. David is a contributor to George R. R. Martin's bestselling shared-world series Wild Cards.

For more information about Willamette Writers, visit 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Free Range Poetry presents Judith Barrington, Francis Opila, Leah Stenson

Monday, September 10, 2018
(second Monday of September)

Northwest Library
2300 NW Thurman Street

An open mic will precede featured poets.
Open mic readers limited to two pages of material.
Sign up for open mic at 5:45 pm.
Reading 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm.

Judith Barrington’s fifth collection of poetry, Long Love: New & Selected Poems, was launched on June 12th.  She is also the author of The Conversation(2015), whose title poem was the winner of the Gregory O’Donoghue International poetry award. In 2001 Lifesaving: A Memoir was the winner of the Lambda Book Award and a finalist for the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for the Art of the Memoir. Judith is also the author of the best-selling Writing the Memoir: From Truth to Art and has been a faculty member of the University of Alaska, Anchorage’s MFA Program. Much sought after as a teacher, she has run workshops around the U.S., Britain and Spain. She was co-founder of The Flight of the Mind summer writing workshop, which brought writers from all over the country to the McKenzie River for 18 years. She is also one of the founders of Soapstone Inc.

Francis Opila has lived in the Pacific Northwest most of his adult life; he currently resides in Portland, OR. His work, recreation, and spirit have taken him out into the woods, wetlands, mountains, and rivers. He works as an environmental scientist, primarily with water quality. His poetry has been published in Latitude on 2nd, Empirical, and Parks and Points. He enjoys performing poetry, combining recitation and playing Native American flute.

Leah Stenson is the author of two chapbooks, Heavenly Body and The Turquoise Bee and Other Love Poems, published by Finishing Line Press in 2011 and 2014, respectively; a regional editor of Alive at the Center: Contemporary Poems from the Pacific Northwest  (Ooligan Press, 2013) and co-editor of Reverberations from Fukushima (Inkwater Press, 2014). Her full-length poetry book, Everywhere I Find Myselfwas published by WordTech Communications’ Turning Point imprint in December of 2017. She serves on the board of Tavern Books.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Environment as Character, Notes on Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird

              by Bill Johnson

Cover of Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird Just as a story's main character can be described according to their dramatic truth (the issue that drives them), a story's environment can also be described in the same way.

Harper Lee's description of the town of Maycomb in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird is a wonderful example of language that evokes the feeling of a time and place.

"Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it."

To say a town is old is descriptive, but to say it is tired is evocative. It evokes what it feels like to experience the town.

"In rainy weather the streets turned to red slop; grass grew on the sidewalks, the courthouse sagged in the square."

Grass growing on a sidewalk quickly conveys a sidewalk seldom trod upon, and a courthouse that 'sags' conveys age more efficiently than several photo-like details. Even the buildings can no longer manage to stand up straight.

"Somehow, it was hotter then: a black dog suffered on a summer's day; bony mules hitched to Hoover carts flicked flies in the sweltering shade of the live oaks on the square."

Mules pulling carts in the town square suggests a time period, and that the mules are bony suggests poverty.

"Men's stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon, after their three-o'clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum."

Beautiful details. The description of the ladies as 'like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum,' is lovely, lyrical, and evocative. A reader can feel like he or she has met these ladies.

"People moved slowly then. They ambled across the square, shuffled in and out of the stores around it, took their time about everything. A day was twenty-four hours long but seemed longer. There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb County."

A day longer than 24 hours, wonderful way of evoking a long, long day and a way of life, and so different from our time.

"But it was a time of vague optimism for some of the people: Maycomb County had recently been told that it had nothing to fear but fear itself."

This reference to a President Roosevelt line conveys the setting as the Great Depression.

"We lived on the main residential street in town- Atticus, Jem and I, plus Calpurnia our cook. Jem and I found our father satisfactory: he played with us, read to us, and treated us with courteous detachment."

Note how Scout saying she and her brother found their father 'satisfactory' evokes how they felt about him at the time of the story, and also leaves open that later she will have a different feeling about her father.

Next comes the description of the family servant, Calpurnia. I'm including it because Lee uses the same techniques that she used to bring the town to life.

"Calpurnia was something else again. She was all angles and bones; she was nearsighted; she squinted; her hand was wide as a bed slat and twice as hard."

Again, a rich, potent evocation of a character, not merely a description.

"She was always ordering me out of the kitchen, asking me why I couldn't behave as well as Jem when she knew he was older, and calling me home when I wasn't ready to come."

This evokes a child's view of Calpurnia's world The body of the novel will explore that world.

"Our battles were epic and one-sided. Calpurnia always won, mainly because Atticus always took her side. She had been with us ever since Jem was born, and I had felt her tyrannical presence as long as I could remember."

Details of environments that do not evoke a time and place in a novel risk being an invitation to readers to skip ahead. Like other great authors, Harper Lee knew how to dramatically evoke the world of her story and its characters in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Copyright 2018 Bill Johnson


To read some of my longer reviews of popular movies, check out my writing workbook, A Story is a Promise & The Spirit of Storytelling, available on Amazon's Kindle and Barnes and Noble's Nook.

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Monday, July 30, 2018

Writing a Novel With a Message, Notes on Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451

by Bill Johnson

Some novels are written to convey a direct message to a reader. One such novel is Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451.

In this novel, it is the job of fireman not to put out fires, but to burn books. Writing about a society that would destroy books is a commentary on life in the 20th century.

The novel opens with a sentence that meets the prime directive of a first sentence: give your reader a reason to read a second sentence.

"It was a pleasure to burn."

The immediate questions, what is a pleasure to burn; and what is 'it.'

To get answers, we must continue reading.

      "It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed."

This raises the question, what is being 'eaten' and 'changed' to create this special pleasure. Who will experience this pleasure?

"With the brass nozzle in his fists, with this great python spitting its venomous kerosene upon the world, the blood pounded in his head, and his hands were the hands of some amazing conductor playing all the symphonies of blazing and burning to bring down the tatters and charcoal ruins of history."

This sentence introduces the main character and how he feels as he holds this 'great python spitting its venomous kerosene upon the world.' This is someone who loves his work. It also raises questions, what is this 'charcoal ruins of history? What is being burned and destroyed?

"With his symbolic helmet numbered 451 on his stolid head, and his eyes all orange flames with the thought of what came next, he flicked the igniter and the house jumped up in a gorging fire that burned the evening sky red and yellow and black."

We know now that he is burning a house, but why? For all the intensity of the moment, he's described as having a 'stolid head.' We're learning more about the character and more about the situation, but both are still mysterious to a reader. Why is a fireman burning this house? What is the meaning of 451?

"He strode in a swarm of fireflies. He wanted above all, like the old joke, to shove a marshmellow on a stick in the furnace, while the flapping pigeon-winged books died on the porch and lawn of the house."

We now have the shocking revelation of what he is burning, books.

"While the books went up in sparking whirls and blew away on a wind turned dark with burning."

This is the end of a first paragraph. Our fireman thinks of roasting marshmellows while burning books. This conveys who he is and a potential arc, what could change this man?

Second paragraph...

"Montag grinned the fierce grin of all men singed and driven back by flame."

Now the author gives this character a name, after first conveying who this man is.

      "He knew that when he returned to the firehouse, he might wink at himself, a minstrel man, burnt-corked, in the mirror. "

Here is a man who enjoys his job.

"Later, going to sleep, he would feel the fiery smile still gripped by his face muscles, in the dark. It never went away, that smile, it never ever went away, as long as he remembered."

The author is making the point how rooted this character is in his unexamined personality.

Double line space in the novel.

"He hung up his black beetle-colored helmet and shined it; he hung his flameproof jacket neatly; he showed luxuriously, and then, whistling, hands in his pockets, walked across the upper floor of the fire station and fell down the hole."

The subtext of 'black beetle-colored helmet' conveys how the character is insect-like.

"At the last moment, when disaster seemed positive, he pulled his hands from his pockets and broke his fall by grasping the golden pole. He slid to a squeaking halt, the heels one inch from the concrete floor."

This man's life runs on habit and routine.

     "He walked out of the fire station and along the midnight street toward the subway where the silent air-propelled train slid soundlessly down its lubricated flue in the earth and let him out with a great puff of warm air onto the cream-tiled escalator rising to the suburb."

This conveys the novel is set in the future.

     "Whistling, he let the escalator waft him into the still night air. He walked toward the corner, thinking little at all about nothing in particular. Before he reached the corner, however, he slowed as if a wind had sprung up from nowhere, as if someone had called his name."

This is a turning point, that something is happening in the life of this unconscious character.

     "The last few nights he had had the most uncertain feelings about the sidewalk just around the corner here, moving in the starlight toward his house. He had felt that a moment prior to his making the turn, someone had been there. The air seemed charged with a special calm as if someone had waited there, and only a moment before he came, simply turned to a shadow and let him through."

The author wants reader to recognize this moment.

A few moments later...

"The autumn leaves blew over the moonlit pavement in such a way as to make the girl who was moving there seem fixed to a sliding walk, letting the motion of the wind and the leaves carry her forward."

The description of the girl is ethereal, poetic.

Moments later...

"Her dress was white and it whispered." She "....stood regarding Montag with eyes so dark and shining and alive, that he felt that he had said something wonderful."

Again, evocative, poetic language. Montag the beetle is having feelings new to him.

Moments later...

She tells Montag she is 'seventeen and crazy.' And she lets him know that, unlike his neighbors, she is not afraid of him. This information is a revelation to him.

And then she asks, "Do you ever read any of the books you burn?"

The set up for this novel and Montag's role is in place. Will he wake up from his insect-like existence?

As she continues to speak about a life and world alien to Montag, he responds, "You think too many things," said Montag, uneasily.

Back in his home, he won't let himself think about what is hidden behind a grill, and he reflects about a clock, that it was "...moving also toward a new sun" Just as his life appears to be moving forward into a new world.

In his bedroom, Montag reflects, "He wore his happiness like a mask and the girl had run off across the lawn with the mask..."

Montag realizes his wife has taken pills to commit suicide. He makes a report and two technicians clean out her system and leave to handle the other nine calls they've received about suicides.

This conveys much about this world.

It comes out that his house has a TV that fills three walls and his wife desires a fourth wall so she can feel fully immersed in the world of TV. TVs had only been around for a year when Bradbury wrote this novel, but the novel is prescient about how people would want to use this technology to enter a cocoon.

Montag comes across Claire, who is on her way to see a psychiatrist for being anti-social.

And then Claire is gone, and Montag goes to a house to burn books, but the owner of the books, an elderly woman, refuses to leave. She not only refuses, she lights a match to set her house and books on fire, killing herself.

At home, Montag reveals to his wife what he has been hiding, books. Books that speak about a world that Montag no longer remembers.

The fireman is now at risk of being burned.

Fahrenheit 451 is a wonder example of a novel with a prescient message about what can happen when life is replaced by an artificial reality. Bradbury understood the message he wanted to convey.

Bradbury brings this world to life with a clear, evocative, poetic vision that is always in the service of the story he is telling. Bradbury is rightly revered as a storyteller.

To read more essays on the craft of writing, visit

Copyright 2018 Bill Johnson website stats program

Saturday, June 30, 2018

5 Ways to Rratchet Up the Tension in Your Fiction

What’s the secret to writing a story that grips readers? Tension. Finding ways to ratchet up the tension in your story will keep readers flipping pages because they simply have to know what comes next! As the author of four nail-biting suspense novels, Patchell shares some practical tips on how to increase the story tension and keep your readers enthralled.
Chris Patchell is the bestselling author of In the Dark and the Indie Reader Discovery Award winning novel Deadly Lies. A former tech worker turned full-time author, Chris Patchell pens gritty suspense novels set in the Pacific Northwest.

About the Meetings

The Portland Chapter holds monthly meetings for writers in the Portland metropolitan area. Members from other chapters are always welcome as are writers new to Willamette Writers.
Unless otherwise stated…

Meeting Time

The Portland Chapter meets on the first Tuesday of each month except for August when we head to the Willamette Writers Conference.

Meeting Location

Meetings are held at the historic Old Church in downtown Portland.
The Historic Old Church
1422 SW 11th Ave.
Portland, OR 97201

Meeting Format

  • 6:30-7:00 p.m., Meeting Setup, Signup, Fellowship and Refreshments
  • 7:00-8:15 p.m., News and Announcements followed by the Program
  • 8:15-8:30 p.m., Book signings, silent auctions, or other events in the back room

Meeting Cost

Monthly meetings at all the chapters are free for members of Willamette Writers. Fee for nonmembers to attend meetings at the Portland chapter meetings is $5 (suggested donation).

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Summer Workshops with Anthea Sharp and Bill Johnson

Write On The River presents



Saturday, June 23 from 9:00a.m. to 4:00p.m. at Wenatchi Hall on the Wenatchee Valley College campus

FULL DAY: $85 (only $70 for WOTR Members) Register by June 10 for a $10 discount!
Free passes available for WVC Staff and students. Interested?
Includes two 3-hour classes, an (optional) writing critique and a box lunch

Friday Night Special! Meet the presenters!

A Book For All Seasons presents a reception, book signing and Q&A at the Leavenworth Public Library at 6:30 Friday June 22.
Bill Johnson and Anthea Sharp are two past WOTR conference presenters, both highly-praised, who are eager to engage Wenatchee and north central Washington writers for a full day of “focus on fiction.”

“Nailing Narrative Tension”

“When a character is blocked from resolving a compelling issue of human need, that character will be in a state of tension. The more powerfully a character’s tension is transferred to an audience, the more that audience will be caught up in a story, and the more will be their relief at its culmination. The goal of this workshop is to guide writers to recognize narrative tension in popular novels and stories and to learn how to create that key element, typically embodied by a main character, at the beginning of their own stories.”
Bill Johnson has taught writing around the United States, and most recently an online workshop on narrative tension for Pennwriters. He has produced videos on storytelling for OregonWritersSpeak and is web master of Essays on the Craft of Dramatic Writing. He is a playwright with a recent production in Brighton, England. Bill’s workbook, A Story is a Promise and The Spirit of Storytelling, explores principles of dramatic, engaging writing using reviews of popular movies, books and plays. Author Carolyn J Rose said, “Bill’s work made me take a longer look at what matters to readers at the emotional core. I feel my characters are deeper and more memorable because of what I learned.”

“Writing to Market – it’s not what you think!”

“As storytellers, we’re moved to write by what inspires us. But at some point, the reader enters the equation: friends and family, an agent or editor, the reading public. We all want to craft a compelling book that resonates with readers, and this workshop will give you the tools you need to take your writing to that next level. We’ll dive deeply into story arc, genre expectations (including memoir, nonfiction, and literary fiction as well as the “standard” genres), and how to engage and delight readers while staying true to your own voice and story.”

Growing up on fairy tales and computer games, Anthea Sharp has melded the two in her award-winning Feyland series. She is a USA Today bestselling, award-winning author of YA Urban Fantasy. Anthea now makes her home in sunny Southern California, where she writes, hangs out in virtual worlds, plays the fiddle with her Celtic band Fiddlehead, and spends time with her family. Her books have won or placed in the PRISM, the Maggie, the National Reader’s Choice Award, the Write Touch Reader’s Award, the Heart of Excellence, and the Book Buyer’s Best contests. She also is a RITA-nominated author of historical romance under her pen name, Anthea Lawson.

Check-in at Wenatchi Hall opens at 8:00 a.m. Feel free to step in and out of ongoing workshops
for your critique appointment. Lunch is an informal box lunch in the atrium or outside


If you would like to schedule a 20-minute personal writing critique session with either one of the presenters, please submit your manuscript directly to them by email, as an attachment. Send up to 10 pages in Times New Roman 12-point font, double spaced. Indicate whether it’s fiction or non-fiction (Johnson can also accept scripts) and whether it’s the start of a longer work or an excerpt.

Be prepared to exit the workshop and re-enter after your critique.

Send your manuscript by June 10 to:
Bill Johnson: OR Anthea Sharp:

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Interview with New York Times Bestselling author Laini Taylor

Join Willamette Writers for an interview with New York Times Bestselling author Laini Taylor. Monica Hay will be asking Laini about her craft and her experiences as an author. We'll also be taking questions from the audience. Laini will be signing her books after the interview at 8:00.

About Laini Taylor:
Laini Taylor is a young adult fantasy author. Her newest title, Strange the Dreamer, was selected as a 2018 Michael L. Printz Honor Book and is the winner of the 2018 Oregon Book Award in Young Adult Literature. She's the author of several books, including the Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy, and Lips Touch: Three Times. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, illustrator Jim Di Bartolo, and their daughter.

About the Portland Chapter:
We invite you to join the Willamette Writers Portland chapter meeting to find your community, develop your craft and expand your career.

Willamette Writers Chapters are local writing communities where writers improve their craft and acquire the career skills required in today’s publishing world.

Our Portland speaker meetings have 65 to 100 attendees. They are held the first Tuesday of each month at the historic Old Church in downtown Portland, 1422 SW 11th Ave. Fellowship begins at 6:30 p.m., the meeting starts at 7 and ends at 8:15. Book signings, silent auctions, or other events are held in the back room after the meeting until 8:30 p.m.

The Young Willamette Writers’ meeting for ages 13-18 takes place in an adjacent room.

The speaker meetings are free to Willamette Writers members and full-time students. Guests are asked for a $5 donation. Join us on MeetUp to receive meeting updates, and follow us on Twitter @wilwrite.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Willamette Writers on the River Hosts Literary Agent Chip MacGregor

Willamette Writers on the River is pleased to host:
The World of Writing, Publishing, and Agents
Presented by Chip MacGregor
Monday, April 23th, 6:30-8:30
First Presbyterian Church, Alison Room
Corner of 9thand Monroe
Corvallis, OR
(Use 9thStreet parking lot entrance)
What is the role of an agent in today’s changing publishing climate, and how does a writer go about finding one? What does a healthy author/agent relationship look like? Come hear from our expert, Chip MacGregor, who has been a successful literary agent for almost 20 years. MacGregor is also an author and understands the Catch 22 an author faces:  “Publishers won’t talk to me unless I have an agent but agents won’t talk to me until I’m published!” Bring your questions and begin to create a realistic plan for finding and working with a literary agent who is a good fit for you, and figure out what “success” means to your writing career.
Chip MacGregoris the president of MacGregor Literary, Inc. He has been working in the publishing industry for more than three decades, made his living as a freelance writer and editor for several years, and was formerly a publisher with Time-Warner Book Group. MacGregor began working as an agent twenty years ago, has represented nearly a thousand titles, and the authors he represents have been on every major bestseller list. He has an undergraduate from Portland State University, a master’s from Biola University, did his doctoral work at the University of Oregon with post-doc work at Oxford University. A well-known speaker at writing conferences and via online writing sites, MacGregor lives on the Oregon coast.
Willamette Writer on the River is the Corvallis Chapter of Willamette Writers. This event is free to members and full-time students. Guests of members pay $5; visitors pay $10, no one is turned away.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

What Do Agents Want? Meet Literary Agent Laura Bradford

Have you ever wondered what agents want? This is the talk for you. Join Willamette Writers to hear Laura Bradford, founder of Bradford Literary Agency, discuss what agents look for in writers, and ways you can make yourself a writer agents want to work with.

About Laura Bradford

Laura Bradford established the Bradford Literary Agency in 2001. She considers herself an editorial-focused agent and takes a hands-on approach to developing proposals and manuscripts with her authors for the most appropriate markets. During her own misadventures as a writer, Laura came to understand the importance of having a friendly but critical eye on your side, a career strategist in your corner and a guide who can lead you through the travails of publication.

Her recent sales include books placed with Penguin Random House, Grand Central, Harlequin, Kensington, Simon and Schuster, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Sourcebooks, Hyperion, and many others. She continues to actively build her client list and is currently seeking work in the following genres: Romance (historical, romantic suspense, paranormal, category, contemporary, erotic), urban fantasy, women’s fiction, mystery, thrillers, young adult, upper Middle Grade as well as some select non-fiction.
She is a member of the Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR) and Romance Writers of America, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and she is an RWA-recognized agent.

About Willamette Writers

Willamette Writers Chapters are local writing communities where writers improve their craft and acquire the career skills required in today’s publishing world.

Our Portland speaker meeting has 65 to 100 attendees. They are held the first Tuesday of each month at the historic Old Church in downtown Portland, 1422 SW 11th Ave. Fellowship begins at 6:30 p.m., the meeting starts at 7 and ends at 8:15. Book signings, silent auctions, or other events are held in the back room after the meeting until 8:30 p.m.

The Young Willamette Writers’ meeting for ages 13-18 takes place in an adjacent room.

The speaker meetings are free to Willamette Writers members and full-time students. Guests are asked for a $5 donation. Join us on MeetUp to receive meeting updates, and follow us on Twitter @wilwrite.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Willy Vlautin at Broadway Books March 7th

We are thrilled to welcome Willy Vlautin back to Broadway Books, reading from his fifth novel, Don't Skip Out on Me, on Wednesday, March 7th, at 7 pm.
The novel tells the story of Horace Hopper, of half-Paiute, half-Irish heritage, who has spent most of his life on a Nevada sheep ranch but dreams of something bigger. Mr. and Mrs. Reese, the aging ranchers who took him in after his parents abandoned him, treat him like the son they always wanted. But Horace feels as if he doesn’t truly belong on the ranch, or anywhere. Believing that he needs to make a name for himself, Horace leaves behind the only loving home he has ever known for Tucson, where he aims to prove his worth as a championship boxer.
Horace struggles to adapt to his new life in the city and grows more and more isolated, withdrawing into himself as he struggles with the pain of his boxing injuries and his loneliness. An instrumental soundtrack by Richmond Fontaine, which perfectly evokes the spirit and setting of this stunning and heartbreaking new novel, will be available for download.

Vlautin is both writer and musician. His previous books all tell stories of hard-scrabble characters presented with heart and generosity by the author.
He is the author of four previous novels: The Motel Life, Northline, Lean on Pete (which won both the Oregon Book Award for Fiction and the Reader's Choice Award) and The Free (which was a finalist for the OBA Fiction prize and won the Reader's Choice Award).
Vlautin founded the band Richmond Fontaine in 1994. Now retired, the band achieved critical acclaim at home and across the UK and Europe. In 2014 he formed The Delines with singer Amy Boone. Born and raised in Reno, Nevada, he now lives in Scappoose, Oregon.
 This event is open to the public. Broadway Books is located at 1714 NE Broadway.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Author Susan Hill Long Speaks to Willamette Writers PDX Chapter

Willamette Writers Portland Chapter

On March 6th (doors at 6:30), author Susan Hill Long will be joining the Portland Chapter.

About Susan Hill Long

Susan Hill Long is a children’s book author. Her recent books include THE MAGIC MIRROR: CONCERNING A LONELY PRINCESS, A FOUNDLING GIRL, A SCHEMING KING, AND A PICKPOCKET SQUIRREL (available May 10, 2016), and middle grade novel WHISTLE IN THE DARK. Her awards include Bank Street Best Books, Oregon Book Award–the Eloise Jarvis McGraw Award for Children’s Literature, and the Katherine Paterson Prize. You can find out more about her at

About the Portland Chapter

We invite you to join our Portland chapter meeting to find your community, develop your craft and expand your career.
Willamette Writers Chapters are local writing communities where writers improve their craft and acquire the career skills required in today’s publishing world.
Our Portland speaker meetings have 65 to 100 attendees. They are held the first Tuesday of each month at the historic Old Church in downtown Portland, 1422 SW 11th Ave. Fellowship begins at 6:30 p.m., the meeting starts at 7 and ends at 8:15. Book signings, silent auctions, or other events are held in the back room after the meeting until 8:30 p.m.

The Young Willamette Writers’ meeting for grades 5 to 10 takes place in an adjacent room.
The speaker meetings are free to Willamette Writers members and full time students. Guests are asked for a $5 donation.

Join us on MeetUp to receive meeting updates, and follow us on Twitter @wilwrite.

Speaker schedules can change and we do our best to keep you informed. Questions? Email

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Learn About TV Writing from F.J.. Pratt

Willamette Writers Portland Chapter

On February 6th (doors at 6:30), TV writer F.J. Pratt will be joining the Portland Chapter to talk about writing.

About F.J. Pratt

F.J. Pratt has been a television comedy writer for twenty-five years, starting on the writing staff for network shows including “Frasier,” which won an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy; “Ellen,” the “coming out” season; and ABC’s “Less Than Perfect.” For three years, he was the Executive Producer/Showrunner of “Sullivan & Son” on TBS. F.J. has developed shows for ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, CW, Dreamworks, Imagine Entertainment, and Disney. For the past five years, F.J. has been an adjunct professor at the John Wells Division of Writing for the Screen & Television at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, and now F.J. has agreed to lend his talents to become FiLMLaB’s first “showrunner.”

About the Portland Chapter

We invite you to join our Portland chapter meeting to find your community, develop your craft and expand your career.
Willamette Writers Chapters are local writing communities where writers improve their craft and acquire the career skills required in today’s publishing world.
Our Portland speaker meetings have 65 to 100 attendees. They are held the first Tuesday of each month at the historic Old Church in downtown Portland, 1422 SW 11th Ave. Fellowship begins at 6:30 p.m., the meeting starts at 7 and ends at 8:15. Book signings, silent auctions, or other events are held in the back room after the meeting until 8:30 p.m.

The Young Willamette Writers’ meeting for grades 5 to 10 takes place in an adjacent room.

The speaker meetings are free to Willamette Writers members and full time students. Guests are asked for a $5 donation. Join us on MeetUp to receive meeting updates, and follow us on Twitter @wilwrite.

Speaker schedules can change and we do our best to keep you informed. Questions? Email