Con Season


Happy New Year, everyone!  I hope you all got a chance to celebrate with people you love (or at least like really well.)  We’re only a couple of days in, but so far 2012 has been a very good year indeed.  I’m working on a character series for my next few posts, but today’s post is actually a call for assistance from you, my dear MW readers.

You see, it’s nearly con season.  Con!  That shocking time of year when tons of wicked little thoughts merrily appear! It’s mad! It’s gay!  A libelous display!*  There’s so much to do to get ready for the fun.  Outfits have to be planned (especially if there’s any costuming to be done.)  Travel has to be arranged.  Bookmarks, business cards and freebies have to be printed, and books have to be ordered.  And of course, there are the panels to prep for.  Now you might not realize this, but those entertaining and thought-provoking panels you’ve come to listen to are, more often than not, thought up by we poor writers.  The con’s programming directors send out emails a few months ahead, asking for our brilliant ideas for panels to offer the congoers.  Which means that in addition to having half a million fictional people in our heads all clamoring for our attention, we’re also searching around in the dusty attics of our brains for good panel topics that haven’t been done too much already and that might draw in so many people we run out of chairs and attendees have to sit on each others’ laps.

Which is where you come in.

You see, I have one of those emails in my inbox as we speak.  It’s staring at me from halfway down the page, scowling a little because the due date is drawing nigh and I haven’t answered yet.  The trouble is I keep coming up with panel ideas that I’m afraid are too ordinary, too done-to-death. The last thing we want is four or five writers sitting at a table with no one to talk to.  The trouble we can get into is just too dangerous to consider.   So I’m turning to you.  Is there a panel you’ve never seen that you’d like to see happen?  Some topic you’ve been wishing for?  Or maybe a subject you can’t get enough of?  In the comments, tell me the panels you’d love to attend at a con.  Don’t stress about how broad or narrow a topic is, just toss it out there.  And who knows…you may see your topic turn up at StellarCon or ConCarolinas! 


* I grew up listening to my mother’s Camelot soundtrack, which means that not only do I know every word, I also have a habit of tossing lines into conversation.  Buy me a drink or three and I’ll sing The Simple Joys of Maidenhood.  ;D


14 comments to Con Season

  • Mikaela

    I have only been to Eurocon last year, so I have no idea. I have no plans for getting to a con this year, but next year… World Fantasy Con. It is in Brighton, UK, which I can afford. So I’ll take the chance :).

    Right. Panel idea. Maybe a workshop on how to get a solid idea in 10 minutes? Might be fun. Or something.

  • Lady Ash

    Went to Dragon*Con this past year and had a blast at the Writer’s Panel there, which is where I found this lovely website, and one of the panels I dearly loved was the Hero’s Journey. However, they through out a phrase the “Heroine’s Journey” and didn’t really explain it in depth. Considering the length of the Hero’s Journey panel, I’m not terribly surprised, but I would love to see/hear someone do a panel on the Heroine’s Journey and even how the two intrinsically differ.

  • A panel on how to survive the writer’s rollercoaster life?
    A panel on how to make a royality check last for six months? LOL
    A panel on how to write with constant distractions?
    Sigh… Yeah, I am going through all of these today. Raven Cursed came out today. And the contractors (who were supposed to be here months ago) showed up this morning. Interesting (and maybe terrifying) how it all comes together all at once.

  • I think a panel on panel topics might be appropriate….

  • Fireheart1974

    This. A thousand times this. James and I have yet to fill out our stuff for Stellarcon yet and I know we need to. And of course, the challenge we have is that we’re filling different roles as Fan Guests this year so we have to come up with ideas around that…

    Oh, that’s a panel idea: How about one on balancing multiple roles? ie the Costumer who is also a Writer? The writer who is also an artist? How do you dedicate time/promotion etc to the different roles? When do you mix the roles (ie dressing up as a pirate to promote your pirate novel? 🙂 ) vs keep them seperate?

    The writer’s panel I’ve always wanted to see is “where do you get your ideas?”…Kidding! Actually, one on brainstorming or other creative ideas to jumpstart your writing when you get stuck might not be bad?


  • I’d like to see one on writing action scenes. I see this a lot at panels, but it often turns into “well, this weapon would only work this way…” and while accuracy is crucial, I get that, I’d like to know the nuts and bolts of action scenes. In fact, a panel on pacing in different kinds of scenes. There have been a lot of posts here on worldbuilding, avoiding infodumping, etc… but it would be kind of cool to have a “this is what a narrative worldbuilding scene reads like” “here’s an action scene…” Now, I often think in terms of literal grammer. “See how passive voice works here, but not there” etc. I guess, now that I’ve typed a bunch of stuff out, the thing I’m looking for is how language use changes as the purpose/focus of scenes change. (Heck, a writer’s workshop on this one would be cool!) Does that make any sense?

  • I agree with Emily. It’s true, I’ve seen a lot of panels side-tracked by nit-picky, unneccessary-for-this-panel details.

    I would love to see a panel on staying motivated / maintaining enthusiasm for writing projects when things get rough, in all its forms: in the face of Real Life challenges, when the story seems to drag, etc. And while “Should I Quit my Day Job?” (aka the Magical Words panel) was one of my favorite panels at ConCarolinas, a panel focused on *how* we can balance out The Rest of Our Lives with writing would be useful.

  • Here’s a few things to get the grey matter ticking over …

    Gender queer politics going mainstream in SF.

    If SF kickstarted space exploration, what else can it kickstart?

    The ‘Bechdel Test’ is SF –
    1. It has to have at least two women in it
    2. Who talk to each other
    3. About something besides a man

    What if it wasn’t always about ‘good v ‘evil’?

  • They key to a good panel is being prepared for the inevitable hijack of the session by someone who likes the sound of his/her own voice. I propose all MW sponsored panels ensure someone is on hand with

    a.) a long hook

    or, failing that

    b.) a selection of medieval weaponry and/or rocket launcher

  • The scary thing? I could easily get my hands on enough medieval weaponry to take over a small country. Which makes me think it might be fun to invite my heavily-armed friends to come and stand along the walls of the next panel I do, and look menacing. *grin*

  • Oooo. Panel topics. Hmm *rubs hands together and chuckles evilly*

    1. How hamsters (or any other innocuous critter) could take over the world. This would be an audience-participation brainstorming that tosses ideas around with some credible backgrounding. A take on the “where do you get your ideas” by showing versus telling.

    2. Humanizing your villian Nothing worse than a nebulous “evil” that has no reason, no motivation. Why is your bad guy bad? What made the mad scientist mad? What is the motivation behind wanting to destroy the world? Does your evil villian have a wife that can’t cook? Does she have a husband who simply can’t pick up his socks?

    3. Surviving social media. How writers discipline themselves away from FB, Twitter, Wiki, Blogs, email and all the other internet distractions and actually WRITE.

  • I’d love to go to a panel discussing the best deaths of major characters or one about genre-blending and crossing in adult fiction.

    There was a panel a few years ago at Albacon that I wish had gone on longer about the nature of evil. Specifically, what is evil? Is a vampire evil because it eats humans? Then are humans in turn evil because they eat cows? What if vampires treated people humanely, are they still evil? How is evil affected by perspective? It can be philosophical or argued using story examples. Evil is fun.


  • Yedra

    Ooh, love Pea Faerie’s idea, but please don’t make it just a con panel – I’m not likely to get to go to that. I’d love to see a series of posts here on the “nuts and bolts” of action scenes, fighting scenes, etc.

    How about a panel on naming your characters & the connotations/images names generate with the reader?

  • Yedra, I can do that!

    Dave, I love the deaths idea, although I’d be a little nervous – last year we were talking about well-written deaths during a panel and I ended up giving away the end of a book for someone who was still reading it. But maybe if that was the topic, it would warn people that spoilers were on the way… And you’re right. Evil is fun!

    So many great ideas – thanks, y’all!