Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | June 14, 2016

The Philadelphia Writers’ Conference 2016

Center City Philadelphia from I-95, with City Hall topped by William Penn to the left and new construction to the right, on the third day of the Philadelphia Writers' Conference - 6-12

A view of Philadelphia from I-95, with City Hall topped by William Penn to the left and new construction to the right – 6-12

 

The Philadelphia Writers’ Conference 2016 — the oldest writers’ conference in the nation with open registration — met in the Wyndham Philadelphia Historic District from June 10th through June 12th. Fellow Chronicler Kerry Gans and I attended with Lois Steinberg, a friend from our critique group. One of the joys of attending a writers’ conference is greeting old friends and making new ones while learning more about the writing craft and the writing business. We certainly did that!

Crafting the Short Story with Kathleen Volk Miller at the Philadelphia Writers' Conference, 6-11

Crafting the Short Story with Kathleen Volk-Miller, 6-11

Grammar For Writers with Courtney K. Bambrick at the Philadelphia Writers' Conference, 6-12

Grammar For Writers with Courtney K. Bambrick, 6-12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kerry and I both attended the three-day workshop Planning a Novel and the one-day workshops Surviving Query Quicksand, Building a Digital Brand, and Pitch Perfect. Our other choices differed, with me attending the three- day workshops Blogging with Humor and How a Poem Should Be and the one-day workshop Writing That Matters. Since Kerry gave a thorough report on each day and each day’s schedule — check out Kerry’s posts on Day One, Day Two, and Day Three of the conference — I’m going to share some tips from the workshops I attended.

 

Planning a Novel with Rachel Pastan, 6-11

Planning a Novel with Rachel Pastan, 6-11

 

From Planning a Novel with Rachel Pastan

The three elements a main character must have:

  1. a lack, need, flaw, or weakness
  2. a specific desire which drives the action
  3. opponents or obstacles to attaining that desire

Each novel should have:

  1. an initial situation
  2. a spark that initiates the action
  3. a change in the main character resulting from the action, perhaps involving a moral choice
  4. a conclusion

 

Blogging with Humor with Donna Cavanagh at the Philadelphia Writers' Conference, 6-11

Blogging with Humor with Donna Cavanagh, 6-11

 

From Blogging With Humor with Donna Cavanagh

  • humor is subjective — not everyone finds a particular bit of humor amusing
  • spoken humor is hard to transfer to the written word because facial expressions and vocal inflections are lacking
  • inside humor is a story
  • it’s okay to flop — just put the flop behind you and keep going
  • it’s hard to find agents or publishers for humor unless you’re a big name comic or celebrity

 

How a Poem Should Be with Alison Hicks at the Philadelphia Writers' Conference, 6-11

How a Poem Should Be with Alison Hicks, 6-11

 

From How a Poem Should Be with Alison Hicks

  • most poetry is published in literary magazines, which are not paying markets
  • there are times we are receptive to poetry and times when we can’t find a poem anywhere we look
  • poets need some downtime, time to recharge
  • how to get the drive back [these tips can be used by writers of any genre]:
  1. set yourself some tasks but don’t make them too big or too hard
  2. take a class and do assignments
  3. have fun with the tasks or assignments; put aside judgement and make them into little games so there’s no pressure

 

Building a Digital Brand workshop with Cecily Kellogg at the Philadelphia Writers' Conference, 6-11

Building a Digital Brand with Cecily Kellogg, 6-11

 

From Building a Digital Brand with Cecily Kellogg

  • you need to define your personal brand as a writer — find the place your passions, personality, and goals intersect
  • you need to identify your core values — why are you writing, what are your goals, and what do you want to be?
  • take a digital inventory — review your current profiles and clean them up, if necessary, and identify your followers
  • join in conversations and build tribes

 

Pitch Perfect with Frances Grote at the Philadelphia Writers' Conference, 6-11

Pitch Perfect with Frances Grote, 6-11

 

From Perfect Pitch with Frances Grote

  • pitching is a form of sales; you are selling a product — your art — to an agent or editor
  • the way we write is not the way we speak: while you probably want to write it out, your pitch should be in “spoken,” not “written,” language
  • when you give your pitch, make eye contact and reclaim the agent/editor’s attention if they get distracted
  • the pitch should engage the emotions and give a strong impression of (but not summarize) what the book is about
  • like a well-written manuscript, your pitch should “show” rather than “tell”

 

Writing That Matters with Kathryn Craft at the Philadelphia Writers' Conference, 6-12

Writing That Matters with Kathryn Craft, 6-12

 

From Writing That Matters with Kathryn Craft (who substituted for the original workshop leader)

  • identify why you write and make sure your writing reflects those reasons
  • decide what type of writing will work best for you
  • who will your main character be, and why her or him?
  • consider the “real characters” you’ve known — admired or reviled — and what details set them apart

The workshops elaborated on all these tips and provided far more information than I can include here, but I hope these few tips provide some inspiration and help with your writing.

 

From Page to Stage with Keith Strunk at Philadelphia Writers' Conference, 6-11

From Page to Stage with Keith Strunk, 6-11

 

Writers’ conferences have a lot to offer. If you’re not in the Philadelphia area, don’t despair. Writing groups across the country hold conferences and offer workshops. Look for one in your region.

Or … you could plan a vacation to historical Old City Philadelphia in June next year and visit the convention too. Maybe we’ll see you there. Come up and introduce yourself.

 

Planning a Novel with Rachel Pastan at the Philadelphia Writers' Conference, 6-12

Planning a Novel with Rachel Pastan, 6-12

 

 

Insider Secrets to Getting Published with Janice Gable Bashman, who filled in for the originally scheduled presenter, at the Philadelphia Writers' Conference, 6-11

Insider Secrets to Getting Published with Janice Gable Bashman, who filled in for the originally scheduled presenter, 6-11

 

 

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  1. […] Writers’ Conference. You can check out our daily recaps here, here, and here, and J. Thomas’ Tips and Pix post […]

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