Growing Your Craft with Writing Workshops

O.C. Writers Events Around Southern California

by Ara Grigorian

Learning: A Life-Long Part of the Writer’s Journey

Years ago, when I decided it was time to get serious about writing, I bought Writer’s Digest magazine, because frankly, I didn’t know where to start. I read those magazines cover-to-cover, learning everything I could about the craft, the industry, and the magic of writing. It was there that I discovered an author/teacher who exposed all my insecurities and flashed a beam of light on all my missteps.

James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure showed me the reasons my writing sucked. So when I saw that he was teaching a small workshop in the LA area, I signed up. In attendance was someone who looked familiar. Turned out he was a well-known author — had sold over 100 million copies. In that moment it dawned on me: if someone like him can be humble enough to say, “I can always get better,” then learning would be a life-long part of the author’s journey.

A Crazy Idea

Fast forward to a couple of years ago at the Southern California Writers’ Conference. Uber-talented writer and teacher Janis Thomas and I came up with a crazy idea. We should teach together. The result was the Novel Intensive. Our goal was simple: help authors tell better stories.

Both Janis and I have had the privilege of critiquing hundreds of manuscripts, have devoured dozens of books on craft, and have sat in hundreds of hours of workshops. From all that experience we developed a framework that we believe is a game changer. The result is an 11-hour seminar that covers the core of storytelling. We’ll help you with everything from finding your story concept, to developing the best flawed characters possible, to hammering out the essential story beats, to orchestrating dialogue that—like good music—flows off the pages, and more.

Come Unsure and Leave on Fire

The writers who attend span the spectrum of experience. Some might barely have a glimpse of an idea, while others have published multiple novels. It is hard to put in words how gratifying it is that after a grueling day, these writers leave the seminar energized, full of optimism, ready to work on their story.

I continue to attend workshops. I love learning and implementing new approaches. And I love teaching and sharing my experiences. But above all, I love seeing writers come in unsure and leave on fire. Each time Janis and I complete a seminar we smile knowingly. We’ve done good. It is our sincere hope that we can have that same profound effect on aspiring authors that James Scott Bell had on me.

It is a privilege to work with authors. We developed the Novel Intensive because we wanted to give back to the community that has always taken care of us. Learning is a life-long part of the author’s journey. Don’t ever stop. Whether it’s by reading blogs/books/magazines on the craft, or attending seminars like the Novel Intensive — invest in your craft. Yes, write a lot and read a lot. But never stop learning.

Always fight the good fight!

About the Novel Intensive

Novel Intensive is the Comprehensive Course for Aspiring Novelists. Join #1 bestselling novelist Janis Thomas and award-winning novelist Ara Grigorian for this unique and invaluable course on April 28th at the Aloft Hotel, in El Segundo, near LAX. Early bird pricing ends on April 1st. For a detailed schedule please visit

Note From Megan:

I have taken the Novel Intensive at the Southern California Writers’ Conference. It is absolutely worth the time and money to learn from Ara and Janis. They are fantastic teachers and helped me broaden my own understanding of story structure. In fact, I’ve taken a couple sections of the course more than once, and find that I learn something new every time I sit in to one of these classes.


ARA GRIGORIAN is the international award-winning author of Game of Love (2015) and Ten Year Dance (2017), his critically-acclaimed second novel. Ara is a technology executive in the entertainment industry. True to the Hollywood life, Ara wrote for a children’s television pilot that could have made him rich (but didn’t) and nearly sold a video game to a major publisher (who closed shop days later). Fascinated by the human species, Ara writes about choices, relationships, and second chances. Always a sucker for a hopeful ending, he writes contemporary romance stories. He is a public speaker and a workshop leader for the Santa Barbara Writers Conference, Southern California Writers’ Conference, Writer’s Digest Novel Writing Conference, and others. Ara is represented by Stacey Donaghy of the Donaghy Literary Group.

3 thoughts on “Growing Your Craft with Writing Workshops

  1. Great anecdote about the successful author at Bell’s workshop, Ara — it’s true, you’re never too old or too experienced to learn something new. And I will second Megan’s endorsement of your wonderful Novel Intensive workshop, and that it’s worth going again and again!

  2. Thank you for this! I got a lot out of your workshop at the 2017 SCWC, and your plot handout has become a key resource for me. (Though it’s also been through the wringer!)

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