THE ENGAGING PLOTS SUMMIT
Learn how to unlock the imagination God gave you.
Award-winning author of five novels, including the Out of Time series, Fawkes, and Romanov
Founding publisher of Thomas Nelson Fiction; author of The Story of With & Chaos Can’t
Time to Reset Your Approach to Plotting
Too many writers fall into these traps:
They struggle to finish a novel because their ideas peter out.
They settle for shiny gimmicks instead of developing truly original concepts.
They waste time crafting elaborate outlines that won’t actually help their stories.
When writers learn to use their imaginations the same way that God exercised His creativity, they’ll finally thrill readers with gripping storytelling.
That’s why we’re gathering 10+ expert Christian authors, editors, and coaches to teach you how to nail your novel’s plot.
“We resolve to fearlessly embrace and wisely exercise imagination as a gift from God, trusting Him to use it, not by limiting our creativity but by benevolently directing it.”
– Christian Storytellers Manifesto
Attendees’ Thoughts on Last Year’s Summit
“Whether taught by well-known professionals in the CBA or Story Embers’ young, enthusiastic, and talented staff, each session presented invaluable information that all writers can benefit from. Highly recommended!”
“The Authentic Characters Summit was the best online conference I’ve ever attended. The intense focus on character development has forever impacted the way I craft my stories.”
Four Truths Every Christian Writer Needs to Know about Plot
Your Plot Is More Than an Outline
Too many writers jump to the outlining stage before they’ve brainstormed a publishable premise. When they eventually realize that their premise isn’t as strong as they thought, rewriting the story can take dozens of hours. That’s why day one of our summit is dedicated to crafting a winning premise.
Plotting Isn't Just for Outliners
Pantsers need to understand how to structure a story just as much as outliners do! That’s why we’re intentionally bringing a mix of discovery and outline writers to speak at our summit.
Your Faith Does Influence Your Plotting
You may think more about how your faith impacts your themes and characters than your plot. But if the Bible is the greatest story ever told, you can gain many insights from its example. Our summit will teach you how.
Plotting Makes or Breaks Your Story
You can’t avoid plotting by winging it, ignoring it, or writing a “character-driven” story. Plot is an essential aspect of fiction. Without it, your stories will be confusing instead of cohesive.
“The Authentic Characters Summit was one of the best writing experiences of my life.”
“I’ve never attended a writing event that had such a strong Christian focus like this, and that was so refreshing and inspiring.”
Day One: How to Craft Engaging Concepts
Opening Keynote: Crafting Plots That Grab Readers' Emotions
The story you live affects the story you write, which in turn affects the stories your readers live. In our opening keynote, award-winning author Nadine Brandes unpacks how this ripple effect of relationship is bound together and delivered through plot.
Why Every Story Needs a High-Concept Premise
Your story excites you, but agents keep saying that it doesn’t stand out. What gives? In this session, best-selling author and writing coach Brett Harris explains why high-concept premises are so important and how writers can strategically approach this subject.
Mastering the Art of the Twist
Sometimes readers can see a story “twist” from pages away. How can you actually surprise them with a turn of events? In this session, Steven James, the best-selling author of more than a dozen thrillers, explains how to break free of the script to deliver an unforgettable story.
How to Write Multiple Plot Lines without Distracting Readers
Have you ever found yourself skimming through one of a novel’s plot lines just so you can return to the more interesting one? How can you make sure readers don’t react the same way to your story? In this session, Christy award-winning author Kristy Cambron explains how to pull off multiple plot lines without splitting readers’ attention.
Day Two: How to Craft Engaging Plot Structures
The Lessons Scripture Teaches about Powerful Plot Structure
God is the Master Storyteller. And the Great Redemption Narrative is the most powerful story of all time. So why don’t we study it more as a model of effective plotting? In this session, Josiah DeGraaf, the editor-in-chief of Story Embers, explains how to take your ideas and arrange them into a stunning plot.
How to Grab Readers with the First Act of Your Story
If you don’t hook readers in the first chapter, they’re likely to put your book back on the shelf. So how can you craft a First Act that pulls them in? In this session, writing craft and branding coach Katie Phillips explains how to nail the opening scene of your novel.
How to Escalate Tension with the Second Act of Your Story
Mollie E. Reeder
Too many novels fizzle out in the middle. And that’s a problem, because the Second Act should contain your novel’s core events! So how can you prevent the pace from slowing down and becoming boring? In this session, author and movie producer Mollie E. Reeder explains how to ace your Second Act.
How to Wow Readers with the Third Act of Your Story
Catherine Jones Payne
The climax is the most important moment in a story. If it doesn’t impress readers, it’s failing to serve its purpose. In this session, Catherine Jones Payne, the executive editor of Quill Pen Editorial and author of four YA fantasy novels, explains how to imitate the Great Eucatastrophe in your Third Act.
Day Three: How to Craft Engaging Scenes
How to Craft Nail-Biting Scenes That Keep Readers Turning Pages
How do you craft chapters that keep readers turning pages long into the night? In this session, Daeus Lamb, the community manager at Story Embers and author of God of Manna, explains how to craft scenes that ratchet up the suspense.
How to Turn Your Plot Structure into Memorable Scenes
Learning to craft scenes well may be the most practical skill you can acquire. A bad plot made up of excellent scenes will be far more interesting than a good plot built on bad scenes. In this session, Daniel Schwabauer, award-winning author of the popular OYAN writing curriculum, discusses the structure and dramatic ingredients of every great scene.
How to Write Scenes That Are Emotional without Being Melodramatic
Stacy Hawkins Adams
You hope to touch readers with the scenes you write. But you don’t want them rolling their eyes at unnecessary sappiness. In this session, award-winning romance author Stacy Hawkins Adams explains how to tug heartstrings without overdoing the emotion.
Closing Keynote: The Power of Imagination
Imagination is a gift from God and one of the most powerful tools you have for crafting engaging plots. But how can you draw out its full potential? In this closing keynote, Allen Arnold, the founding publisher of Thomas Nelson fiction, explains how to channel your creativity and bring your story home.
Not Your Standard Virtual Event
We get it. Virtual events have gotten old since last year.
That’s why we’re taking this to the next level.
Writing is about doing, not just listening. We’re building creative and peer critique exercises into this summit so you can practice what you learn.
You need the opportunity to unpack the techniques taught in our sessions. Our focus on community will help you connect with others.
Every session aims at one goal: equipping you to write engaging plots. We don’t want to fill your head with miscellaneous tips.
Unlock Your God-Given Imagination
You’ve written pages and pages and pages without seeing your writing go anywhere.
Don’t you think it’s time to change your approach?
As someone who bears God’s image, you have the capacity to reflect His creativity.
We want to teach you how to create concepts that use the imagination He’s blessed you with.
We want to teach you to create plot structures that mirror His Redemption Story.
And we want to teach you to create scenes that ring true to His reality.
Too often, readers aren’t as engaged by a story as the writer expected them to be. We’re going to help you address that problem.
Are you ready to stretch your God-given imagination?
Frequently Asked Questions
What does the summit schedule look like?
We’ll have writing activities in the morning. Sessions will run at 3:00, 4:00, 7:00, and 8:00 PM EDT each day.
What if I can’t attend all the sessions live?
All sessions are recorded. If you enroll with the standard option, you’ll have access to the videos until midnight on April 26th. If you enroll with the premium option, you’ll have lifetime access.
What if I don’t have a Facebook account?
We only use Facebook to lead the community discussions that are part of the summit. The sessions are hosted on our website, so you won’t need a Facebook account to watch them.
Do you offer scholarships to writers with financial needs?
A limited number of summit scholarships are available. Please email email@example.com if you’d like to fill out an application.
Can family members attend with me?
If you have the privilege of living in the same household as other writers, you just need to register once to be able to watch the sessions together.
Is there a risk of cancellation due to COVID-19?
The benefit of a virtual summit is that we can’t be cancelled due to lockdowns!
What if I have a question that isn’t answered here?
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get a response!
What Would You Miss If You Skip the Engaging Plots Summit?
Top Writers and Speakers
Our summit features several award-winning writers, editors, and coaches coming to your living room at an affordable price.
We’ve designed our summit as the ultimate resource for learning to craft gripping, imaginative plots. The sessions explore advanced topics at a depth you won’t easily find elsewhere.
A Roadmap for Engaging Plots
Our summit will provide you with the practical, step-by-step guidance you need to write plots that enthrall readers.
More Testimonials from Last Year’s Summit
“For a long time, I have struggled with developing unique and realistic characters. Now I’m equipped to create and portray characters who mirror humanity to glorify God.”
“What I’ve learned here will have a huge impact on my writing.”
“The summit was professional yet fun. I learned so much from all the different presenters and have a full notepad of notes to prove it!”
“Not only did the summit give me a lot of great tips and techniques for writing authentic characters, but it also helped develop my character and refocused my attention on the things that matter most.”
“I’ve never attended a writing event that had such a strong Christian focus like this, and that was so refreshing and inspiring. All the sessions I attended gave me actionable steps to create deeper, more authentic characters who connect with readers.”