The South Carolina Writers' Workshop 20th Annual Writers' Conference is just about upon us and I can't wait. Last year I was fortunate enough to work the registration desk and meet many of the attendees. One question I often heard, once they had their conference bag, "Where's my schedule?"
They weren't asking about their Friday Intensives or pitch or critique times, they wanted their schedule for the general sessions. While some conferences and workshops use a track system, SCWW does not.
When you register for the conference, we do ask that you check a session in each time slot. This information helps us in a number of ways. For example, we know the estimated attendance for sessions within a time slot, which helps us assign rooms. We can track trends in attendee interest which helps us plan future conferences. You are not locked in to the choices.
If you do plan to follow the sessions you checked, please bring your own copy of that itinerary. There will be a full conference schedule in your notebook, but we don't include individual schedules in the information packets.
We want you to enjoy the sessions that are most important to you and your work during that weekend - and those may be different than the ones you checked when you registered. Maybe one of your characters did something really unexpected and now you're looking at a POV change. Maybe you polished your manuscript sooner than expected and you're ready to start marketing. One year I had my plan of action for the conference . . .until I heard the keynote speaker. I couldn't wait to hear what else he had to say and rearranged my list at the last minute. The SCWW conference offers the flexibility to do what's right for you and your writing at that moment.
We understand the number of options can be daunting, especially for first-time attendees. Even we old-timers have to make tough choices. It often ends up there are time slots when I'm interested in more than one offering. How to choose?
There are several ways to design your path through the weekend. The first thing I do after registering is print off the schedule. I already have in my head what I hope to get out of the conference and the schedule gives me a visual of how each day is laid out and I can see the full weekend at a glance.
One way to limit your options is by looking at what you write. All time slots have genre-specific offerings. Eliminate those that are definitely not in your area of interest. I've been known to black out listings just to get them out of my vision. You can do a similar thing by highlighting those authors, editors and agents you don't want to miss.
Another strategy to follow is The Method, The Market & The Muse. Each 'M' focuses on a specific element of writing and you can choose to concentrate your time in one area or balance your time between two or three.
The Method is all about the 'How To' of writing. These sessions cover the nuts and bolts on craft.
The Market sessions offer insights and advice for getting your manuscript into the right hands - agents', editors' and readers'.
The Muse sessions tap into your creativity and get you in the right frame of mind for your writing.
The courses typically fit into one area better than another but there is definitely some overlap. The SCWW website www.myscww.org has a detailed description of each class offered. Here are the sessions I think generally fit The Method. These will be especially helpful to those writers just starting out or those wanting to hone a specific skill. I didn't include the SlushFests since they are genre-specific. In future posts I'll look at The Market and The Muse.
Submission Success With An Independent Press
Secrets to Non-Fiction Proposals
Double-Dutch: The Ups and Downs of Writing in Two Genres
The Long Road to a Small Province: Crafting a Succinct, Selling Synopsis
Play By The (Grammar) Rules - And When Not To
Crafting Compelling Mystery and Suspense
Love My Life, But Will Everyone Else: How to Craft a Compelling Memoir
Tortuous Two: Query Letters and Synopses
So You Want to Write A Book: An Intro to Writing, Publishing and Promoting
The Polished (and Selling) Query
The Non-Fiction No Hitter: Perfecting Your Pitch
There's A Hole in the Bucket: Identifying and Avoiding Holes in Your Imaginary World
And sometimes you still end up having to choose between two sessions. If you're attending the conference with a friend, compare your choices. Instead of going together, divide and conquer, then share notes. If you aren't going with a friend, there will be plenty of opportunities to meet and compare notes with the other attendees. What better way to meet another writer and hear highlights of a presentation than to ask, "What sessions have you enjoyed?"