Origins – one of the two big Midwest gaming conventions – is going to be this week, and I’m going to be all up in that.

“Wait,” says conveniently hypothetical person, “I thought your friends made fun of you for going to GenCon and doing writer stuff instead of gaming. Why are you going to Origins?”

Why, to do writer stuff instead of gaming.

Mike Stackpole and Jean Rabe have been working to bring something like GenCon’s Writer’s Symposium to Origins. Hence, The Library.

I’ve gone over the schedule, and it looks to have a lot of what makes the Writer’s Symposium great. No-holds-barred-no-pretention panels on everything and anything related to writing (and genre writing). Here’s some examples (and these are JUST the panels I’m on):


Rm 226 – 11 AM: Setting As Character. In some tales the setting is as key as the heroes and villains who stride across the landscape. Some writers are able to paint their setting so well that their readers sweat in the bayou, shiver in the arctic, and gag in the swamp. We’ll discuss techniques for turning your story’s backdrop into a place so vibrant, mysterious, scary, or enchanting that the reader will feel a part of it . . . and all without letting your prose go purple. Panelists: Jean Rabe, Marc Tassin, Steven Saus

Rm 226 – 12 PM: Writing Right—Dialog and Language: Whatchu wanna learn ‘bout writing conversations? There’s a right method for capturing dialects and slang without making your readers strain their brains in an effort to fathom what you mean. Learn the techniques for adding flavor and a smidgen of grammatical incorrectness. Panelists also discuss creating languages to make your worlds come alive. How do you keep your characters from having names and discussions that look like someone slapped the keyboard? Panelists: Steven Saus, Walter Hunt, Janine Garner.

Rm 226 – 2 PM: Nothing But ‘Net. Our web gurus demonstrate that the Internet is a great writing tool. But if you spend too much time hooked to it, you won’t have time to write. They’ll show you what resources are worth using, what you should stay away from, and how to avoid Internet addiction. They’ll also cover web pages, blogs, Twitter, and various writer-help sites. Panelists: Steven Saus, Bryan Young

Rm 226 – 4 PM: The Business of Writing: Agents, Query Letters, and Taxes. The fun part is writing your story. But there’s a “work’” element to consider and we’ll cover that here . . . agents, expenses, tax deductions, contracts, conventions, and more. Panelists: Jean Rabe, Walter Hunt, Steven Saus

Rm 226 – 5 PM: The Techniques of Terror: Our resident horror-masters discuss how you can frighten your readers. What writing tools do you need to send shivers down their spines? They cover the different styles of horror writing and who are the best authors working in the genre today. Panelists: Steven Saus, Bryan Young, Marc Tassin

Sunday (Sunday sunday sunday….)

Rm 216 – 12 PM: Writing Support: Don’t write in one of those proverbial vacuums. Discover the plethora of writing organizations and web sites that can help improve your prose and help you peddle your short stories and novels. Included is a look at the alphabet soup available: SFWA, IAMTW, RWA, MWA, HWA, etc. Panelists: Jean Rabe, Marc Tassin, Steven Saus

Rm 216 – 1 PM: Second Bananas. Supporting characters—sidekicks, lieutenants, minions, and the like—can make your major characters and plot more complex. Your hero needs a best buddy or confident, a sounding board for dialogue, someone to turn to when the villain gets him down. And your villain . . . lackeys are good. Marc Tassin and Steven Saus show you how to abolish cardboard cutouts while preventing your second bananas from stealing the show.

Rm 226 – 2 PM: Pros and Cons of the Small and Large Press: We’ve been published by major New York houses as well as small press companies and have had varying degrees of success with both. We’ll discuss the differences between writing for a large publisher versus a small one, and the advantages and disadvantages of both. Panelists: VJ Waks, Steven Saus

With panelists like Aaron Alston, Jean Rabe, Mike Stackpole, Tim Zahn – and local favorites like the wonderfully steampunk Sarah Hans – why aren’t you there already???

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