The Value of Writers Conferences

Last weekend I attended a mini-writers conference, sponsored by the St Louis Writers Guild. I spent most of day kicking myself for having never connected with this group before.

I attended three sessions, all of which overwhelmed me with great information and gave me many ideas for how to move ahead with my writing.

The first session focused on how to find an agent. As I never even tried to find an agent, this was new ground for me. Both speakers found agents before they were published, and both ended up selling their books to publishers. A tool they recommend highly was, which helps writers find and research agents.

The next session was on writing science fiction and fantasy, and how to determine what genre you will write in. Among the great tips from the speakers: if you are having troubling selling your book, try marketing it in another genre.

One speaker gave a tremendously detailed talk on how to write a fight scene. Not having been involved in a physical fight since I was about 8, I had no idea how to even construct such a scene. The speaker gave lots of specifics about how to set up the fight, how to think through why the protagonist and antagonist are fighting, use of weapons and more. Of especial value was the advice to think about what each person involved in the fight will lose be being in the fight, win or lose.

All speakers were generous with sharing specific information, whether in the form of sample query letters, detailed handouts or lists of resources.

More importantly, I could see that involvement in local writers group gives the opportunity for finding critique partners or groups and networking with other authors.

Another major lesson learned: get out there and find other writers to connect with, to learn from, and to support. The actual work of writing is a solitary exercise; the writing life doesn’t have to be.

If you live near St Louis, check out the St Louis Writers Guild. If you don’t, look for a writers group near you.

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