Your Book Starts Here:  Learn to Storyboard Your Book!

Fascinating and Flawed:  Creating Vivid Characters in Fiction and Memoir

Your Book Starts Here, Part 3


Mary's Curriculum Vitae

Contact Mary: mary(at)

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What a marvelous piece of luck that my daughter Carolyn told me to go to the Loft--and that you were there for me!

--Kathleen Velenga, Minnesota

The classes I have taken with you have helped clear the path for my voice to reveal itself through my novel.  When I began, I had no idea what an adventure this would be. Your calm wisdom and clear direction has brought me through many challenging times.  Had I not found you and your class I would not be experiencing the joy and pleasure I now receive from my writing.  — Elisabeth Tyler, NY

Mary taught me to listen and to sense the movement or stasis of my own words.  I learned to step outside myself and see if a section carried me or dragged behind me.  At first I wanted to protect the leaden parts because I had poured myself into them.  But once I pick-axed and the pace quickened, everything felt lighter and better—my work as well as me.
—Carrie Barron,M.D., co-author of The Creativity Cure

Mary was fantastic:  an excellent facilitator, a guide providing us with oodles of skills and tools to tackle an overwhelming task, emotional mountain:  book making.

 --J.S., Massachusetts

This is--far and away--the BEST workshop  

I've ever attended on any topic. Full of useful, productive content. Very balanced.

--S.Y., New Hampshire

Thank you so much for generously sharing your hard-won knowledge!  Your concepts and practical strategies helped me go forward on organizing the material I've been amassing for a book, as well as figuring out what still needs to be written.  I have a long way to go but now don't feel quite as overwhelmed.
— Loft Student, MN






Watch the
Your Book Starts Here
video series


If you believe you have a book inside you just waiting to come out, here is a guide that will ensure your book’s arrival in the world. In clear, accessible prose, Mary Carroll Moore leads the aspiring author through every step of the challenging, rewarding process of developing and completing a full-length book. — Rebecca McClanahan, author of Word Painting

I was so thirsty for this workshop experience.  [She's] an experienced and skilled teacher.

I liked every part.

--S.T., New Hampshire

What you teach [in the book workshop] should be in EVERY High School freshman English class!  I keep saying, “If I had only known, I would not have struggled so."  
— Annette Walters, Minnesota

My momentum has hit a great pace.  So far, that's the "Wow!" factor for me with this class: my commitment to my writing practice.

— student in "Your Book Starts Here," Part 1, online class 

This was one of the best writing workshops I've ever taken!  It allowed room for creativity and muse to flow but also gave clear-cut guidance and direction on what to do once the inspiration has happened.  A perfect balance of work and play.

--Attendee at two-day   book workshop, SNHU

I was a student at the Loft Literary Center when I lived in Minneapolis. I do miss your classes since moving to France. I just recently discovered your blog and have been re-inspired! After a long period trying to ignore that nagging voice... I am beginning again! Thank you so much!

— Karen Eberle, France

Your ideas are hugely valuable.
— S.B., California

If I could implement all I've learned from you, I'd have a best-seller!
— S.T., New York

Need one-on-one help from a knowledgeable author?  Coaching or editing for your manuscript-in- progress? Click here for more information on Mary's coaching for writers:  manuscript review, editing, and personal accountability for your writing.




Mary Carroll Moore
One of Mary's workshops at the Loft Literary Center.  Photo credit: Lucas Schulze


Weekend Workshops and Week-long Retreats

Your Book Starts Here:  Learn to Storyboard Your Book!

Get to know your book--what it is about, how to structure it, how to finish it! Develop a step-by-step plan (with timelines, storyboards, and more) and learn ways to flow chapters, find holes that need filling, organize research, construct plots. Up-to-date information on agents and publishers, tips on editing your book.

Madeline Island School of the Arts, Lake Superior, Five-Day Retreat on a beautiful island off Wisconsin's north shore, July 24-28 and September 18-22, 2017.  $625.  (Certified for graduate credit through the University of Wisconsin.  Please contact the Madeline Island school for more information on this.)  Limited to 15 writers..

MISA West, Tanque Verde Ranch, Tucson, Five-Day Retreat at this deluxe resort in the Rincon Mountains, January 23-27, 2017, $625  Limited to 15 writers.

Grub Street, Boston, One-Day Workshop, October 15,10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., $115. ($95. members)

The Loft Literary Center, Minneapolis, One-Day Workshop, October 21, $105. (sliding scale available)

Independent Study for Book Writers

Independent Study at Madeline Island (July 24-28, 2017) and MISA West (January 23-27, 2017)  $625.  A week of unlimited writing time, with customized assignments and daily checkins with Mary.  Feedback on up to 8000 words of your writing included.  Limited to 6 writers.

Online classes

Your Book Starts Here, Learn to Storyboard Your Book!--online class

An eight-week tutorial on storyboarding your book in any genre.  Explore your book idea and its structure.  Strengthen your writing practice with weekly accountability.  Learn about the Inner Critic and develop a brainstorming list of topics to avoid being flattened by it.  Weekly lessons include chapters from Your Book Starts Here and other material, along with in-depth writing exercises.  Our lively online writing community gives you a safe space to share your work and get constructive and inspiring feedback from classmates and Mary. (The Loft Literary Center) Eight-Week Online Class
starts January 25, $390.

Fascinating and Flawed:  Creating Vivid Characters in Fiction and Memoir
An eight-week online class to explore and refine characters. Characters are the heartbeat of story--whether imagined or real, they must come alive on the page.  Author Marilynne Robinson says that great characters create an almost "emotional entanglement" with a reader.  But how do you, as a writer, work with characters?  What if they are too mysterious or bore you?  What if you can't imagine how to bring them to life?  This online class will let you audition the most compelling cast for your fiction or memoir, then free them from any conscious or unconscious paralysis (safe, stuck places), via readings, discussion, and innovative exercises.  We'll explore key character-building skills such as longing and desire, external and internal motivation, physical appearance, community, values, secrets, backstory, gestures, and more.  You'll leave knowing how to write characters who will last in your reader's memory and attract publishers.  For memoir or fiction writers at any stage. 

The Loft Literary Center Eight-week class, starts January 25, $390.

Your Book Starts Here, Part 3--online class  
This class is open to writers with a complete draft of a manuscript in any genre, at any stage, who feel ready for revision.  Small workshopping groups help you learn the art of revision with two rounds of feedback on your chapters each week.  Lessons include the techniques of pacing, voice, and theme, plus up-to-date publishing information. This a graduate-school-level workshopping environment can help you refine your book chapter by chapter.  Weekly feedback from Mary plus private coaching via a drop box.  Note:  you must have a completed draft to qualify for this class. (The Loft Literary Center) Twelve-Week Online Class
starts February 8, $525.


One-Day Workshops

Please check back for April 2017 offerings. 



Past Classes--will be offered again!

Your Book Starts Here, Part 2--online class   

Take the next steps with your book in any genre.  Work in small groups for weekly workshopping of scenes, chapters, and islands.  Weekly lessons to help you develop characters, strengthen conflict, and build a vivid container (setting)m plus in-depth writing exercises.  The supportive online community of close readers lets you get top-level feedback from classmates and Mary each week. (The Loft Literary Center)Twelve-Week Online Class
starts February 8, $525.

Writing Your Life: Plan, Write, Develop a Memoir
Whether you are trying to write the story of your life for publication or as a family legacy, this workshop by the author of two memoirs will show you how to organize your stories into a readable, interesting work. You will be introduced to a simple formula that successful authors use to plan, organize, and write a book, and you will learn book-writing techniques such as the value of themes and how action and reflection balance one another in memoir and creative nonfiction. The Loft Literary Center, Minneapolis, One-Day Workshop, July 16, 2016, Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., $105. (sliding scale available)

Rule of Three:  Character, Conflict, and Your Story's Container
A fast-paced, hands-on workshop to explore how to refine the three main elements of your fiction or creative nonfiction writing:  the people that populate it, the dilemma they create that drives the story forward, and the container, or setting that encloses it all. Get new perspectives on your work and a toolbox full of techniques for preparing your manuscript for publication. The Loft Literary Center, Minneapolis, One-Day Workshop,March 25,2016, Friday, 10:30-4:30, $105 (sliding scale available)

Writer's Wheel of Ten:  Upgrade Your Craft Skills in

Fiction and Memoir
Spend a lively day exploring the ins and outs of ten essential writing tools professional writers never leave home without. Bring new vibrancy to a not-quite-there-yet memoir, short story, or novel. Fun exercises, short readings, discussion will help us see new levels of these basic tools--and how they improve your writing.

The Loft Literary Center, Minneapolis, One-Day Workshop,
March 24, 2016, Thursday, 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., $105. (sliding scale available)

Dialogue Skills to Bring Characters to Life
Writing great dialogue is hard!  Learn simple techniques to take your real-life and fictional dialogue to a new level of shine. The Loft Literary Center, Minneapolis, One-Day Workshop,
TBA, 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., $105. (sliding scale available)

Story in Progress:  A Workshopping Class for Fiction or Memoir Writers--online class 

Intermediate and advanced fiction and memoir writers will gather to serve up their first pages, opening chapter, and random selections of their project, short or long, exposing not-quite-working-yet characters, dialogue, setting, for workshopping and fixing. The goal is to leave you with ah-ha! moments about what to do next and renewed excitement in your writing. (The Loft Literary Center) Twelve-Week Online Class
starts TBA, $525.


Strange Alchemy:  How Place, People, and Conflict Intertwine in Fiction and Memoir

Good story engages readers because place, people, and conflict are not haphazard. They are aligned to create a certain alchemy. In this class you’ll learn how the three elements of place, people, and conflict must work together to make memoir and fiction writing come alive.  Enough dilemma--or too much?  Power positions of players working--or not?  Does setting lend emotion--or is it flat?  24/7 access to classroom, weekly lessons and exercises, lots of feedback. (The Loft Literary Center) Twelve-Week Online Class
starts TBA, $525.

The Art of Voice and Theme in Fiction and Memoir--online class
Every writer craves an authentic voice and strong themes—two key elements that make writing stand out. Both voice and theme reveal emotional truth, linking writer and reader in a personal way. But how does a writer identify her or his unique voice, develop it, and use it to craft themes that matter? Through readings, writing exercises, and critique, we'll learn the difference between narrative voice and character voice, how themes emerge in a piece of fiction or memoir, ways to thread these themes for greatest impact, and how voice and theme weave together. Bring 2-5 pages of any stalled, stuck, or just-started fiction or memoir you'd like to work on during the class. (The Loft Literary Center) Eight-Week Online Class startsTBA,$390.