Posted by Carrie Fulk Vaughn
I have attended anime conventions since 2005. Every convention I’ve attended has had panels I’ve found at least entertaining, if not downright informative. With the time you spend in the circuit, however, the information is often repeated and the same over and over and OVER again until you’re sick of it. Once in a blue moon, there might be a new panel show up on the list and, with the bated breath of enthusiasm, you attend and are sorely disappointed. Either the class isn’t what was printed on the box and/or it IS what was printed on the box, but it seems like they just tossed the information together fifteen minutes before the panel was due to start and wing it. Either way, I feel like I’ve wasted my time sitting through a panel I hoped was just getting a rocky start because it’s new and I leave without any information oncesoever.
I was asked, not long ago, if I would be able to throw together a panel to offer at one of the conventions I was attending with some friends. They run a live-action event and in order to get compensated badges for all participants, they needed to offer more panels. The ringleader of the live-action event (whom we affectionately call Swiffer) wasn’t going to be able to run the live-action, the two other panels she was hosting AND more events, so she asked if I wouldn’t mind presenting something.
I spent two hours trying to figure out what I was going to present on. I had no idea what panels they were even offering and the website had absolutely nothing listed at all about what they were offering, which is common because a lot of people bail on their panels last minute due to funds. (We’re all broke and spending money on hotel accommodations, overpriced dealer’s room goods, and surviving on Pocky, Bawlz and ramen all weekend.) I knew I’d wanted to present an anime horror panel for a long time because the one I’d seen traveling around was one of the disappointment centrals. I didn’t think I would have enough time to actually come up with anything well thought out enough to present without being one of the disappointment centrals. Massage Therapy is something that might belong in the dealer’s room, but not a panel at a convention and that’s even if I could find a way to tie American massage back into any kind of Japanese roots. Then I puzzled over a writer’s panel.
I’d been to writing panels before, one of which actually rekindled my passion for writing after I’d lost it thanks to an ass of an ex. I figured I could at least throw together something passingly interesting that wasn’t just fanfiction based and make it not a complete waste of time. I could have a 101 class for beginners and someone wanting to improve. I thought maybe I could offer something about publishing, editing, agents, etc for people who thought they were ready to be published and talk about some ways to make sure you’re ready to send it out, how to write a cover letter and what NOT to put in a cover letter, and brushing up on basic language skills. Then I thought maybe there could be a roundtable class of some sort to write out something while in the class and look at it under peer review.
Then I realized people would be too tired and caffeinated to pay attention or not get butthurt.
The idea hasn’t quite left me alone, however. I really WOULD like to come up with some sort of a writer’s panel at the convention. The problem I’m having is what to talk about. I’ve been a Municipal Liaison for the last three years for National Novel Writer’s Month, so you would think I’d have this in the bag. Unfortunately, I’m not sure what all everyone would want to see. I could make the class interactive and ask the people attending what kinds of things they’d want to see and only present on three main topics while having everything written up from other topics as well. (Yes, I am an over-preparer like that.) I’ve considered presenting a general writing panel and then a horror panel that discusses what the horror genre IS and IS NOT because I know I have trouble deciding if what I’ve written will fit with what the editors are looking for.
In short, I am really looking for a few writers from all levels of experience, to tell me what their biggest difficulty is in writing. I want to know what questions need answered so I can research and write something up or at least have an avenue to go down. What would you want to see out of a writing panel? I want it to be something informative and I’ll throw in a few hands-on exercises.
What would YOU want to see in a writing panel you were attending? What issues would you like addressed? Are there any exercises you would like to see? Feel free to explain at length and, if you don’t mind, let me know what your level of experience is. If you are an editor, what kinds of things do you loathe seeing out of submissions sent to you? What little tips and tricks do you think would really help you out if a writer were to do them before submitting? All suggestions are welcome!
So, please. Tell me!