Introducing the 2023 Writer Unboxed UnConference–and Opening Earlybird Registration


Following a 4-year hiatus, the in-person Writer Unboxed UnConference is back!
Go ALL IN on the craft of fiction with our intimate and immersive event.

The 2023 UnConference, Unboxed

Part symposium. Part interactive workshop. Part networking affair. Part retreat.

Unlike other conferences, our hybrid event will not include sessions on the business of writing. Instead, we’ll spend that time advancing your craft, strengthening your resolve, and helping you make meaningful connections with other writers. In other words, we’ll lean on the qualities that have made Writer Unboxed a strong online community and website for novelists—one of the best for 17 years straight, according to Writer’s Digest. We’re going to empower you, but this time we’re going to empower you in person.

The Writer Unboxed UnConference will kick off on Monday, November 6th in Salem, Massachusetts and span the week with in-depth, interactive conversations and workshops led by trusted WU contributors, craft gurus, professional editors, and bestselling authors.

As has been the case in the past, this is a limited-space event. Capping tickets at ~130 helps us to maintain the intimate feel of the UnConference and foster connections between attendees.

A Week With an Arc of Its Own

This year’s UnConference, ALL IN, was built to drive divergent thinking from day one.

Expect to develop fresh ideas and solutions for your specific craft challenges throughout the week and to emerge with a clear path forward.

The Cadence of Our Days


If you love quiet writing time as part of a group, join your fellow attendees beginning as early as 6 a.m. (T-F) for Morning Pages in the ballroom at the Salem Waterfront Hotel.

Planned programming will begin between 8:30-9 a.m. in the same location and is meant for all attendees.


Afternoon sessions will be offered along two general tracks: Track 1 caters more to first-draft issues while Track 2 sessions consider challenges that often emerge in later drafts.

You’re welcome to move between these tracks, which will be held either at the Salem Waterfront Hotel or the meeting space in the historic House of the Seven Gables, a brief walk from the hotel. Time to move between afternoon sessions has been built into the schedule.


In the evenings, connect with other writers during more relaxed “UnConference” programming—guided discussions on the writing life, the process of writing, storytelling problems, and more.

A Summary of Our Sessions and Schedule

Note: A more robust view of sessions, including descriptions and scheduling, is available in the AGENDA section on Eventbrite.


  • Registration
  • Genre Meetup / Cocktail Hour
  • Welcome Dinner


  • Morning Pages
  • Good Chaos: A Provocation and Invitation (Walsh)
  • Anger, Anguish, and Authenticity: Bring Yourself to the Page (Maass)
  • [T1] Stress-test Your Brainstorms (Macallister)
  • [T2] Get Emotion on the Page in a Way Your Reader Can Feel (DeFreitas)
  • [T1] Why Are Your Characters the Way They Are? Home in on Character Essentials (Yates Martin)
  • [T2] Incite Your Protagonist to Go the Distance (Craft)
  • Community Conversation: TBA


  • Morning Pages
  • Hone Your (Character’s) Voice (DeFreitas)
  • Heart: Make Your Story Memorable (Maass)
  • [T1] Spread Your Story’s Impact (Craft)
  • [T2] Reinvent Your Writer’s Toolbox (Webb)
  • [T1] Anatomy of the Novel: Create a Novel Blueprint in 4 (Mostly Easy) Steps (DeFreitas)
  • [T2] Rescue Your Novel’s Sagging Middle (Yates Martin)
  • Community Conversation: Process Therapy (Hernandez)


  • Morning Pages
  • Analyze Like an Editor (Yates Martin)
  • Live Edits (Yates Martin)
  • Your Story is Our Story: Create a Universal World (Maass)
  • [T1] Character Arc = Character Complexity: Develop Depth and Nuance (DeFreitas)
  • [T2] Point Beyond the End: Consider Your Story’s Resonance (Craft)
  • [T1] Action! Learn Powerful Storytelling Techniques from the World of Film (Hall)
  • [T2] Bring Characters to Life on the Page (Yates Martin)
  • Community Conversation: Book Therapy (Hall, Webb)


  • Morning Pages
  • Pleasure > Discipline: Center Your Creative Practice (DeFreitas)
  • Write With the Freedom of Mastery (Maass)
  • Catch It as You Can: Center Now, Produce Later (Walsh)
  • Know Your “Why” and Your “Enough” (Yates Martin)
  • Remember the Power of You (Maass)

EXTRAS: Scrivener Office Hours with Gwen Hernandez, walking groups, bedtime stories, a wrap-up party, and more.

Get your Earlybird Ticket TODAY on Eventbrite!

Our Session Leaders

Kathryn Craft is the award-winning author of two novels, The Art of Falling and The Far End of Happy, as well as chapters in Author in Progress and The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing from Writers Digest Books. Her 17 years as a freelance developmental editor at follows a 19-year career as a dance critic. Kathryn leads writing workshops and retreats, has mentored novelists through her Your Novel Year program and Drexel University’s MFA program, and served as the Women’s Fiction Writers Association’s 2020 Guiding Scribe. She is a regular contributor to our favorite writing blog, Writer Unboxed.

Susan DeFreitas is the author of the novel Hot Season, which won a Gold IPPY Award, and the editor of Dispatches from Anarres: Tales in Tribute to Ursula K. Le Guin, a finalist for the Foreword INDIES. Her work has been featured in the Writer’s Chronicle, LitHub, Story, the Huffington Post, Daily Science Fiction, Oregon Humanities, and elsewhere. An independent editor and book coach, she is a Founding Coach with Author Accelerator, as well as a regular contributor to, and holds an MFA from Pacific University. She divides her time between Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Portland, Oregon.

Desmond Hall is the author of Your Corner Dark, has worked as both a high school biology teacher and English teacher, counseled at-risk teens, and served as Spike Lee’s creative director at SpikeDDB. Named one of Variety Magazine’s 50 creatives to watch, he’s also written and directed the HBO movie, A Day In Black and White, which was nominated for the Gordon Parks Award. He’s written and directed the award-winning theater play, Stockholm, Brooklyn. He’s served on the board of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, and was a judge for the Addys, and the Downtown Urban Arts Film Festival.

Gwen Hernandez is the author of Scrivener For Dummies, Productivity Tools for Writers, and several novels of romantic suspense. She teaches Scrivener to writers all over the world through online classes, in-person workshops, and private training.

Donald Maass founded the Donald Maass Literary Agency in New York in 1980. He is the author of The Career Novelist (1996), Writing the Breakout Novel (2001), Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook (2004), The Fire in Fiction (2009), The Breakout Novelist (2011), Writing 21st Century Fiction (2012) and The Emotional Craft of Fiction (2019). He has presented hundreds of workshops around the world and is a past president of the American Association of Literary Agents (formerly AAR).

Greer Macallister earned her MFA in creative writing from American University. Her historical novels have been named Book of the Month, Indie Next, LibraryReads, Target Book Club, and Amazon Best Book of the Month picks and optioned for film and television. She is a bestselling novelist and a regular contributor to Writer Unboxed and the Chicago Review of Books.

Tiffany Yates Martin has spent thirty years as an editor in the publishing industry, working with major publishers and New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling and award-winning authors as well as indie and newer writers. Founder of FoxPrint Editorial and author of Intuitive Editing: A Creative and Practical Guide to Revising Your Writing, Tiffany also leads seminars and workshops around the country and is a regular contributor to outlets like Writer’s Digest, Jane Friedman, and of course Writer Unboxed.

Therese Walsh co-founded Writer Unboxed in 2006 and is the site’s editorial director. She is the author of two novels, three self-help books, and hundreds of articles. She is the editor of a craft book for novelists, Author in Progress, which was written with the team from Writer Unboxed and published by Writer’s Digest. She has worked with bestselling novelists as a developmental editor. This event marks her sixth managed conference—her fifth for Writer Unboxed.

Heather Webb is the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction. As a freelance editor and an adjunct in a MFA in Creative Writing program, Heather has helped many writers sign with agents and go on to sell at market. When not writing, she feeds her cookbook addiction, geeks out on history and pop culture, and looks for excuses to head to the other side of the world. To date, her books have been translated to seventeen languages.

Reserve your seat TODAY on Eventbrite!

We hope you’re able to go ALL IN for WU’s fourth in-person UnConference!

Until then, write on!