Master Class in Character: More than Flesh and Bones

Master Class in Character: More than Flesh and Bones

From your POV character to secondary characters to antagonists, all the people in your fiction are important.

They need to rise up from the page and connect with your readers: excite them, horrify them, disappoint them, delight them. In short, characters must have emotional impact.woman in goldElderly woman

Join author Ruth E. Walker to explore and experiment with:

~ how characters enhance the themes in your stories
~ when and where dialogue is a game-changer
~ the subtleties of description for greatest benefit
~ how to deepen character motivation and desires


This workshop is not geared for writers just starting out. Bring your in-progress characters and a willingness to stretch them and you over the course of the day.

Ruth Walker reveals the inner lives of her characters with a quiet and purposeful grace.” Rabindranath Maharaj

“Walker’s prose is skillful, vibrant, and peopled with characters we can believe we know.” reader

“No matter what I was doing throughout my day, I had Sheila and Sigmund on my mind.” Kevin Craig


Here Be Dragons: Plot and character in fantasy fiction

Here Be Dragons: Plot and character in fantasy fiction

with Heather M. O’Connor and Anne MacLachlan

Choose your own adventure–and who to take along for the ride–in this four-week workshop on plot and character in fantasy. Through hands-on activities and discussion, you’ll learn how to:

  • craft nuanced, believable heroes and villains
  • follow the Hero’s Journey to chart their path and yours
  • explore fantasy’s many subgenres and archetypes
  • discover online resources to continue your quest

Excellent companion to The Many Worlds of Fantasy.

Online Masterclass Workshops

Online Masterclass Workshops

Due to COVID-19, our workshops are now online

Offered through The Writers’ Community of Durham Region (WCDR), Writescape’s Gwynn and Ruth will deliver online masterclass workshops for writers who want an in-depth focus on aspects of fiction. Writescape workshops provide practical handouts, engaging in-class exercises and discussions, and professional facilitators.

Making a Scene online masterclass workshop:

Making a Scene is a three-part fiction workshop that will dive deep into the mechanics and benefits of creating engaging scenes. You will explore not just what a scene is but how all its elements work together to create vivid building blocks for your story. Understanding more about the structure and nuances of different kinds of scenes – action, contemplative, flashback
– you will write your drafts with more confidence and purpose. In addition, all participants will receive written feedback on an in-course scene assignment.

Wednesdays: February 24, March 3 & 10 — 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

Registration through WCDR: $85 for members & $100 for non-members

For nearly a decade, Gwynn Scheltema and Ruth E. Walker were fiction editors for LICHEN, Durham Region’s first literary journal. And for the past 12 years, they’ve offered workshops, retreats, editing and coaching services at Writescape, working with writers in a variety of genres and styles. These popular facilitators create inspiring and practical programs in a safe and relaxed atmosphere.

Tasting the Page:  Beyond the Five Senses

Tasting the Page: Beyond the Five Senses

With Gwynn Scheltema

In this one-day workshop:

  • challenge your reader’s perceptions and assumptions
  • deepen your powers of description
  • learn new descriptive techniques to give greater weight to your narrative voice.
  • master how to add description without slowing the narrative.

Don’t let your fiction be left on the plate. Prepare it gourmet style and your readers will beg for more.

Have fun experimenting with creative writing exercises that make your writing live. We’ll munch our way through a smorgasbord of fiction foods from image and emphasis, to movement, theme, and syntax.

Come prepared to go new places and try new things.

As past participants have said, “You provoked me into thinking of new ways of approaching my writing,” and “Your exercises were great—inspiring, short, but effective. You let us try lots of different things.”

17 Ways to Edit for Energy

17 Ways to Edit for Energy

with Gwynn Scheltema

You’ve finished your first draft. What’s next?

Your story submission was rejected. Why?

Your writing seems flat. How can you energize it?

Could you use a simple but dynamic self-editing process that injects the energy you need into your writing?

Checking style, presentation, spelling and grammar is not enough. Your writing must have energy. Put power in your prose, turn flat into fabulous, and put your writing on the path to publication.

  • Learn energizing editing techniques
  • Identify and avoid the most common reasons that good stories fail.
  • Practise your new skills immediately on YOUR draft
  • Add a handy ready-to-apply checklist to your editing toolbox
  • Use editing examples supplied, or bring your own.


The Many Worlds of Fantasy

The Many Worlds of Fantasy

with Heather M. O’Connor and Anne MacLachlan

Date: Wednesdays, March 18, 25, April 1, 8, 15

Time: 7:00-9:00 pm.

Location: Trent University, Oshawa Campus

Fee: $125 ($110 for members of WCDR, SOH, WCSC, WCYR and other writing organizations)





Explore the worlds of fantasy, both fictional and professional, in this 5-week, hands-on workshop.

Learn how to create convincing fantasy settings. We’ll use world-building techniques and activities to:

  • discover a brave new world
  • layer in realistic depth and detail 
  • build your world, week after week
  • extend your new realm around the corner and across the seas

We’ll also explore the fantasy writer’s world. Discover a treasure trove of:

  • markets and publishers
  • conferences, workshops and networks
  • writing resources

To register:

  1. Select your workshop using the Add to Cart button.
  2. Find Your Shopping Cart on the right.
  3. Click on the yellow Check out with PayPal button to pay securely using a credit card or PayPal account.

$125 – The Many Worlds of Fantasy

$110 – The Many Worlds of Fantasy (members of writing organizations)

Excellent companion to Here Be Dragons! Plot and character in fantasy fiction. Register for both workshops and save $20.

$220 – Register for The Many Worlds of Fantasy and Here Be Dragons

$190 – Register for The Many Worlds of Fantasy and Here Be Dragons (members of writing organizations)

Writing for Children

Writing for Children

with Erin Thomas and Gwynn Scheltema

Do you love children’s books? Do you still remember the characters that you cared about as a child? Have you ever wanted to write a picture book or novel that kids will read over and over again?

Writing for Children introduces you to the basics of writing for young readers. Come find out what publishers look for, and what makes writing for children different from writing for adults.

You’ll learn how to write for different age groups and different reading levels within those age groups. You’ll discover the importance of engaging dialogue and find out how to make your characters come alive. You’ll see how plot and scene structure can strengthen your story, and you’ll explore ways of finding inspiration.

This hands-on six-week workshop series is packed with activities, opportunities to practise your new skills, and written and oral feedback on your work from two powerhouse facilitators.

Write to Win: Techniques & Tips for First Place

Write to Win: Techniques & Tips for First Place

Learn how to make your entry stand out from the crowd. Whether you’re entering writing contests or submitting to agents and publishers, it’s all a contest. And many entries never make it past the first reader.

When: Saturday, June 17, 2017;  10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Location: Minden Branch of the Haliburton County Public Library, 174 Bobcaygeon Road, Minden, Ontario

Write to Win is all contest, all day, with exercises, surprises and prizes. This hands-on workshop will help you

  • choose the best contests before you even start writing
  • learn what eliminates many entries
  • understand the process of judging
  • try on various writing forms and approaches
  • take home a wealth of tips and materials

Dorothea Helms and Ruth E. Walker are prize-winning writers. Between them, they have won:jump for joy

  • Barbara Novak Award For Excellence In Humour and/or Personal Essay Writing
  • Whitchurch-Stouffville Grimm Fairy Tale Short Fiction Contest
  • Canadian Living short story contest
  • Ontario Arts Council grants
  • Geist Literal Postcard Story Contest
  • Dan Sullivan Memorial Poetry Contest
  • The Writers’ Circle of Durham Region short story contest
  • Suburban Newspapers of America Advertising and Promotions Contest

Dorothea and Ruth have also created and administered contests, and are sought-after judges for international, national and regional writing contests.They have seen some wonderful entries get eliminated early on. And they have had to decide first, second and third place with dozens of brilliant entries to choose from. How did they do it?

Register online:

$80.00 +HST
$75.00 +HST Writing organization members discount & discount for library patrons & staff

Writescape’s mission is to inspire, support and engage writers at all levels. From delivering innovative, hands-on workshops to creating all-inclusive retreats, the Writescape Team pays attention to the smallest detail so writers can focus on their work. Escape to write…with Writescape.

Watch Your Language AND From Inspiration to Publication

Watch Your Language AND From Inspiration to Publication

Gwynn Scheltema and Ruth E. Walker are at the Ontario Writers’ Conference.

Gwynn is offering an advanced class: Watch Your Language. Dialect, foreign languages, accents and other linguistic touches provide diversity and authenticity to dialogue. Gwynn will help participants avoid character stereotypes so that what is being said is not overshadowed by how it’s being said. Gwynn’s popular workshops at the OWC are consistently highly rated and fully booked.

Ruth’s beginner workshop From Inspiration to Publication invites new writers to play with words through hands-on exercises and fun activities. Participants will risk a little and try on different forms of creative writing. Useful handouts offer tips on submitting material to the right market. Ruth will also serve as a Blue Pencil Mentor, offering helpful feedback in one-on-one discussions with writers about their manuscripts.

Gwynn and Ruth have been at the OWC since it launched, facilitating workshops, mentoring writers and enjoying the many speakers and learning opportunities that a comprehensive conference like this has to offer.

To register, visit the Ontario Writers’ Conference.

One-on-one Feedback

One-on-one Feedback

September 10. Gwynn Scheltema and Ruth E. Walker are offering the Canadian Authors’ Association, Niagara Branch, a special extra on September 10, 2016. After the 2-hour morning workshop, Finding the Muse and Kindling Your Creative Fire, this dynamic team of creative writing instructors will conduct half-hour one-on-one feedback sessions.

Sessions include:

  • written feedback from both Gwynn and from Ruth on up to 10 manuscript pages [**see below]
  • a one-on-one session with either Gwynn or Ruth to discuss the feedback
  • an opportunity to ask questions, discuss writing plans and potential markets

Interested participants must:

  • email up to 10 manuscript pages in advance to
  • provide material and payment no later than September 5

Gwynn’s and Ruth’s feedback sessions are a featured cornerstone of their annual writers’ retreat, Spring Thaw. Skilled editors, they excel at finding a writer’s strengths and offering insights to specific areas that can benefit from further development. Because they are also writers, they understand that the best feedback needs to be specific and constructive.

Maximum of 12 participants.

Fee: $30 + HST includes written feedback from both Gwynn and Ruth

$30.00 CAA Niagara Feedback

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$3.90 HST will be added by PayPal at the checkout.

**Standard manuscript page:

  • double spaced
  • 12 point font – Calibri, Arial or TNR
  • 1 inch margins all round
  • paginated
  • name and title in header on each page