Posted by: Kerry Gans | June 8, 2014

Philadelphia Writers’ Conference 2014: Day Three

AC at the PWC“We writers are a tribe.”

— Austin Camacho

Today, this writing tribe came together for the final day of the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference (PWC) 2014. For one final day, we filled our stomachs with coffee and our heads with knowledge.

Every conference has its own fingerprint. This year’s PWC exuded the small - DSCN9793intensity of a classroom during an exam. We were there to LEARN, and we certainly did! This year felt intimate, quiet, studious. Not that no one had fun—plenty of laughter and smiles filled the halls and sessions! Although I saw plenty of familiar faces, this year had a good number of newcomers or people who had not been for several years. The newcomers and returnees found a warm welcome to our tribe of writers.

(PWC Contest Winners are at the end of this post.)

The final morning sessions opened at 9:30 AM. Today’s single-day sessions were: Reading and Creating Comics and Graphic Novels by Terry LeBan and Magazine Writing by Ilene Raymond-Rush.

In the Comics session, LeBan introduced us to the history of comics, the evolution of graphic novels, and the steps to creating a comic. He told us that what makes one picture fine art and another a cartoon is not necessarily the artistic style, or even if the picture told a story. What separates the two is this: fine art—while it may imply a narrative—is about shapes and colors and technique, while a cartoon is ONLY about the narrative.

On the final day of the Conflict workshop, Alma Katsu gave us some structural elements to help build and sustain conflict and tension (cliffhangers, intercutting scenes, and suspense). We also discussed villains and the openings and middles of the story. Alma put into words many things that I knew somewhere in my subconscious about conflict, and that clarity felt good!

Strength of Character with Judith Byron Schachner, 6-7-14

Strength of Character with Judith Byron Schachner, 6-7-14

After lunch, Judith Schachner had us creating characters from picture prompts. She gave us a picture, and we created a character based on no other context than what was in the photo. The results ranged from existential to humorous, although the real laughter started when we read the results of our second picture prompt—an animal. I was surprised how easy it was to come up with a character and story from something so simple.

The final 3-day session I took was Austin Camacho’s Creating Character. Today we focused on the inner feelings and philosophies of our characters. We discussed how the various “tribes” a character belongs to (tribes of gender, of race, of religion, of ethnicity, of occupation) shape him. He also reminded us that great heroes are defined by great villains.

I didn’t attend the final closing panel on Building Your Writing Community. A wonderful writing community has grown in the Philadelphia-Doylestown area, and I am proud to be a part of it.

Our tribe of writers dispersed today, heading back into the world bearing magic and dreams.

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Thanks to everyone who made this PWC such a success: board members, workshop leaders, and attendees!

Congratulations to all the PWC Contest winners:


  • 1st place:  Faith Patane (Jesus Saves)
  • 2nd place: David Bender (Kingfishers Never Drown)


  • 1st place:  Lorinda Lende (Tick, Tock, Illogical Clock)
  • 2nd place:  Beth Moulton (Food for Thought)
  • 3rd place:  Cathy Sikorski (Showering with Grandma: Confessions of a Serial Caregiver)

Juvenile/Young Adult Fiction

  • 1st place:  Nancy Kotkin (Haunting of Amelia)
  • 2nd place:  Jennifer Fleming (What’s Expected of Saviors)
  • 3rd place:  Priscilla Strapp (Shadow)


  • 1st place: Jim Kempner (What We Leave Behind)


Words on the Wall


  • 1st place: Radnor Law (3rd Degree Circus)
  • 2nd place: Katie Westcott (The Struggle)
  • 3rd place: Amy Hollinger (Anniversary)


  • 1st place: Jacqueline Summers (Belly Talks)
  • 2nd place: Sharon Nicolary (Tips for the Disenchanted Writer)
  • 3rd place: Seth Canata (Leaky Roof)


  • 1st place: Fran Bolinder (Dementia)
  • 2nd place: Kit Rohrbach (Mosin – a Ghost Story)
  • 3rd place: Sandra Gurin (350 Square Feet)

All-Genre Prompt Contest

  •  1st place: Pattie Crider (Butterflies Never Rest)
  • 2nd place: Katie Westcott (Dance, Dance)
  • 3rd place: Jacqueline Summers (Gridlock)

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  1. Nice write up. Noticed our South Jersey Writers’ Group president’s name above in the winners’ list. Sorry to have missed the conference.


    • Thanks! Maybe we’ll see you next year!


  2. […] Chronicler Kerry Gans did such a thorough job on her posts about Day One, Day Two, and Day Three, that I’d have little to add — except that we often attended different workshops. Check […]


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