F236. Best Practices for Plot-Making: The Inevitable and the Surprising

Room 217A, Henry B. González Convention Center, Meeting Room Level
Friday, March 6, 2020
1:45 pm to 3:00 pm


Fiction writers often have an easy time coming up with characters and a hard time knowing what to do with them; in other words, it's tough to create good plot. On this panel, five fiction writers will address ways to make plots feel inevitable (true to their characters and the situations they find themselves in) but also unexpected. Panelists will provide specific advice for writers struggling to determine characters' actions, while revealing their own challenges and successes in plot-making.

Outline & Supplemental Documents

Event Outline: AWP_outline.pdf



Lauren Grodstein is the author of five books, including Our Short History, A Friend of the Family, The Explanation of Everything, Reproduction Is the Flaw of Love, and The Best of Animals. She directs the MFA program at Rutgers University, Camden.

Karen Russell’s novel, Swamplandia!, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. She is also the author of the celebrated short story collections, St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves and Vampires in the Lemon Grove. She is the recipient of fellowships from the American Academy in Berlin and the MacArthur Foundation.

Kelly Braffet is the author of the novels Save Yourself, Last Seen Leaving, and Josie and Jack. Her writing has appeared in the Fairy Tale Review, Post Road, Vulture.com, Salon.com, and several anthologies.

Christopher Gonzalez serves as a fiction editor at Barrelhouse and a contributing editor at Split Lip. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Lunch Ticket, Wasafiri, Third Point Press, Cosmonauts Avenue, JMWW, and elsewhere. He currently works in book publishing.

Tom McAllister is the author of the novels How to Be Safe and The Young Widower's Handbook, as well as the memoir Bury Me in My Jersey. He is an associate professor at Temple University, nonfiction editor at Barrelhouse magazine, and cohost of the Book Fight podcast.


March 4–7, 2020
San Antonio, TX

Henry B. González Convention Center