Voice and Theme

Voice is the first thing that readers see


It takes a few minutes to set the scene, it takes several paragraphs to introduce the character. But voice starts working from word one. 

So if you want to draw your reader in, you need to do that with your voice. 

Come to our workshop and learn, in an intimate, small-group setting, about how to get readers (agents and editors first) to read past your first page, and your first chapter. 

Theme is the last thing readers think about

If you want readers to close the book with a sigh, and then to immediately go to Amazon or their local bookstore and seek out more of your books, you need to put a satisfying theme into your story. You want to end your novel by bringing your story full circle. If you do that--if your character learns and grows and solves his problems in the end, then the reader will feel satisfied. 

During our three days together we will learn how to write theme into our stories in such a way as to make them feel natural, as opposed to preachy and heavy-handed. 

Plot and Character

Without plot, a piece of writing is not a story—it is a static description. Plot is what gives the story locomotion, and stories must move or they are not stories at all.

Stories also must have characters who move through the plots. The characters will, we hope, stretch and grow as they move through the obstacles that the plot puts in their way.

We Care about Characters

Reading a book with all plot and no characters would be akin to watching clothes flop around in the dryer. There’s plenty of action. So what?

Without compelling characters the best plots in the world are forgettable. Who cares if an entire city is poisoned by terrorists squirting chemicals into the water supply if we don’t have a character to zoom in on, to know, to love, to weep with, and to root for?

Think of those disaster films—Poseidon Adventure types—they always focus on individual characters before the disaster. That’s because we can’t care about a faceless crowd the way we can care about an individual. The widower and his daughter on a vacation together so they can bond with one another, the college student on her last trip with the girls before her wedding and her wonderful new life, the woman seeking a new start after a bitter divorce—those are the characters we worry about and root for. They have goals. Hopes and dreams. They’re setting off on adventure looking for good things. And in the background we see the volcano smoking and we know it’s going to erupt and mess up their plans.

In. The. Background.

If we just watched the volcano erupt and didn’t know any of the people running for their lives, we’d not be sucked into the story.

Plot Pounds on the Hero and Shapes Him

​On the other hand, reading a book about characters with no plot would be like sitting up all night staring at a corpse laid out for burial. Maybe he has laugh lines around his eyes and he’s dressed in his best suit and he looks like an interesting fellow. Who cares? He’s just lying there. How long will we sit and watch him before we get bored with it?

We can’t fall in love with characters who have no plot to move around in because without a plot there is no way for us to get to know the characters well enough to love them. Plot is the furnace that the character goes into. And it’s the blacksmith who pulls him from the furnace and pounds on him with a hammer.

After he walks through the flames and withstands the beatings, he comes out, hopefully, a strong-backed hero with an iron will. (Conceivably, he could end up as a puddle of molten metal, but if that happened he wouldn’t be the kind of character most readers care about.) So plot molds the character and the reader is vicariously molded—changed—as he suffers alongside the character.

During our three days in this workshop, we will talk about . . .

  • how to craft compelling characters

  • how to put in negative traits and still make readers love our heroes 

  • how to make readers root for our characters

We will learn about . . .

  • how to make plots that will allow your character to be the hero

  • how to make plots that keep readers turning pages  

  • plots that provide your reader with a big pay off in the end

All Workshops include these things . . .

  • All lodging 

  • Free transportation to and from the airport

  • Several hours a day of writing time

  • Two hours a day of instruction​

  • Three half-hour sessions of one-on-one time 

  • A 20-page critique 

  • Time for boating and swimming and hiking

  • Campfires and brainstorming time

  • Lifelong friendships

In this retreat you will learn how to . . . 

  • add snazz and pizzazz to your writing

  • choose the strongest POV for the novel you're writing.

  • spiffy up your novel with solid editing tips, before you submit it to agents and editors.

You will also learn how to . . . 

  • weave the theme in from first to last

  • make secondary characters seek the same things that the main character is seeking, thus strengthening the theme

  • make the reader want to follow your character as he learns what he needs to learn


Sally Apokedak

Apokedak Literary Agency


Waleska, GA 



Tel:    (678) 744-7745

Fax:   (470) 481-0778

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