Deep Character: From People To Plot

The best stories feature characters who fascinate and engage us as they undertake transformative journeys. In this three-hour workshop, we will do lots of writing exercises geared toward developing a deeper understanding of your fictional characters and how their wounds and desires can lead to a muscular and gripping plot no matter the story subject. By the end of the workshop, you will walk away with a more intimate attachment to that person that lives in your head and the beginnings of a plot outline for your own compulsively-readable novel.

Capped at eight writers, this workshop focuses on creative play, safe sharing, curiosity, and mutual support as we deepen our knowledge of our important made-up people.  

You also have the option to add on a personal critique session: I’ll take a careful look at your plot outline and help you fine-tune it during a one-on-one ZOOM session.

2021 Workshop Dates

(choose one when you enrol):

May 9, June 6, Sept 19, Nov 21

1 – 4 PM, Central Time


Got Questions? Here are some answers!

Q: Is this workshop only for working on novels?

A: All fiction needs well-developed characters and most will gain from having something happen so if you’re working on short stories, you will gain from the deep dive into character and the consideration of plot. But it’s truly ideal for anyone with a novel idea, a character that keeps hanging around, and/or an in-process draft. While I feel that understanding the basics of Aristotelian arc can be super helpful for beginners in plot, if you are working on a less traditional structure, check out Jane Allison’s Meander, Spiral, Explode: Design and Pattern in Narrative. 

Q: Do I have to share?

A: Nope! I do think, though, that sharing fresh work helps us to grow by both hearing what we’ve put down (it’s not so bad after all!) and learning to trust and appreciate being listened to. I strive to create a safe environment: we do not critique fresh work! Instead, we support what shines!

Q: Why you? 

A: My stories bloom out of characters. With them leading the way, I’ve written award-winning short stories and two tightly-plotted novels (and another currently in process) in which my people act on their desires, face obstacles, and ultimately arrive at transformation. This Has Nothing To Do With You, my last novel, won the Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction. I have an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Guelph, where I intensely studied the process of building character-driven plot with my mentor, Susan Swan, during the writing of my first novel, Swarm. My learning and experience are hard won, and I love sharing what I know in direct critique, during Writer-in-Residence positions, and while teaching at retreats and in workshops! 

Q: What if I already have a novel draft and I want more help! 

A: Check out my Novel Coaching Program and sign up for four months or month-by-month to get substantive edits, ZOOM calls, and email support to help you move through the revision process. 

Q: What if I’m brand new to writing?

A: As long as you are actively writing fiction – and not just ‘intending’ to write – the workshop should make sense to you. If you are trying to get started with a practice, though, I recommend my online course, Nine Simple Steps To A Solid Writing Practice.  

Praise for Deep Character & Critique Sessions:

I just wanted to write to tell you that the workshop today has been invaluable to me. I came out with so much more knowledge than I had going in, and I am feeling really inspired to jump into my characters. I thought Lauren was phenomenal! Thank you so much for the wonderful workshop! Teresa Witkowskyj 

An inspirational day that helped me get in touch with my character’s motivations and to move forward with confidence. Susanne McLarty

Before I did my critique session with Lauren I wasn’t sure if I’d ever finish my novel. My revisions weren’t going well and I had encountered several structural problems I didn’t know how to resolve. After meeting with Lauren I feel excited about it again. She was incredibly insightful and helped me build confidence in my creative process. She provided me with the tools, knowledge and resources I need to restructure my novel. Lauren also helped me create a clear plan I can follow to accomplish my goals without feeling so overwhelmed. – E. B. Page 




Nourishing Roots: Yoga and Writing Retreats

Certified rock star yoga instructor, Kerry Mealey-Holmes, and I have teamed up to offer day and weekend-long retreats in beautiful locations, combining yoga and writing. These are on pause for the duration of the pandemic, but we will be back! 

Check out the Nourishing Roots Retreats webpage, and sign up for the newsletter to get the latest news about upcoming events, special deals, and more.

Praise for Our Retreats

AMAZING!!! I’m so happy I took the day and attended this retreat! It was a fantastic way to reconnect with my writing, practice some yoga, and immerse myself in a wonderful, creative, supportive environment. This writing retreat arrived at a perfect time for me, even though I didn’t know I needed it. I would highly recommend it! – Lindsey Henley

Before the retreat, I was a little bit nervous. I didn’t know what to expect. Lauren and Kerry created such a warm and caring environment. Over the course of the day, I felt more connected to myself than I have for a very long time. I would recommend this retreat for all women wanting to explore themselves, connect with themselves, and give themselves LOVE. – Avery Eramchuk 

What a safe a gentle way to approach your inner writer. Thoughtful, creative space provided. Kerry and Lauren are wonderful. – Kelly 

Wild Writing in the Boreal

Wild Writing in the Boreal is an annual November writing retreat for beginning and experienced writers, which I co-run with writer Donna Besel. It brings together women from Northwestern Ontario, Southern Manitoba, and beyond for a warm and easy-going weekend of writing, sharing stories, and connecting in the gorgeous environment of Falcon Trails Resort in Manitoba’s Whiteshell Provincial Park.

Delicious food, hot-tubs, wood-burning stoves, starry nights, beautiful nature, and our legendary Saturday night sing-a-long (following the open mic reading) and, of course, lots of writing, create a weekend to remember!

Visit our Wild Writing in the Boreal page for more details, including pictures and testimonials and check out last year’s itinerary and details about Falcon Trails at the resort’s website.

Praise from past participants

Wild Writing in the Boreal blew my expectations through the roof! The entire weekend was so full of love, honesty, and beautiful writing. Both Lauren and Donna are amazing, talented women that we are all lucky to be learning from. Never have I felt so grounded at a retreat, and I am walking away feeling knowledgeable and motivated. – Kiera Anderson

Before the retreat, I always thought that writers were “other” people. Being a writer was something I didn’t think was attainable for someone like me. Listening to other stories that people wrote and sharing helped me realize that I can be a writer. – Marni Fisher





Nine Simple Steps To A Solid Writing Practice! 

This self-directed video course offers 10 lessons (9, plus a bonus) to help you begin and nurture a writing practice. Whether you’re answering a life-long call to write or returning to your creative work, this course will help you:

  • dedicate a space for creative work
  • make time to write
  • address and overcome common blocks 
  • reconnect with the desire you feel to write
  • feel like a writer again or for the first time
  • choose a meaningful project
  • purposefully look at your written draft (without cringing or running away)

I've recently lowered the cost of this course, to help as many people as I can, so you can purchase it now for just $39.99! 

Praise for Nine Simple Steps

"This course, visually beautiful and wise, has helped me to re-connect with my writing. I’m back at it again. Next time I stray, I know I’ll have this course in my back pocket to help me return.” – Angie Gallop

"I love your writing course! I started it way back, and have kept going back to is very forgiving that way. It has gotten me to the point where from not writing at all, except for my editorial for the paper once every two months, i have a spot to write, and sit down each morning and write for an hour! I am working on two different projects! THANK YOU for helping me find my creative side again, after so many years! It has also encouraged me to move away from arts admin and into editing and writing for a living. So much thanks to you!" - Anna Proctor

"Lauren's online class was precisely the tonic I needed to re-ignite my writing practice. I listened to these nine sessions in my car on the way to work and looked forward every morning to the encouragement and counsel she provided. Through personal stories, anecdotes, quotes and practical tips, Lauren's coaching inspired me to identify my writing goals and commit to them. I recommend this course to anyone who needs an extra nudge to start new works or to keep going with existing projects." - Cheryl Sadowski

Want to know more? I’d love to connect with you…

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