Wondercon is a little over a week from now. It’s not as big as Comic Con, but some say it’s better – being a touch less overrun by corporate snazzery. Anyway, it’s conveniently located at the LA Convention Center this year, so there’s that.
If you’re a writer going to Wondercon, don’t just blunder around from booth to booth. They have panels and workshops and such, so you can level yourself up a bit, in between getting gouged by corndog prices and photo-bombing zombie crossplay Sailor Moons.
To help you sift thru the amazing array of offerings, here is a selective list of writery programs you can take advantage of. And let me suggest you use their My Schedule tool to keep yourself on track. Nothing frees you up to wander aimlessly like a plan.
Building Worlds With Words – Exactly as the title says, this is a panel with with novelists and comic book writers all about the role worldbuilding plays in storytelling. Panelists include Aditi Khorana (Mirror in the Sky), Victoria Schwab (A Gathering of Shadows), Caragh M O’Brien (The Vault of Dreamers) and others. Friday 7pm
From Fan to Creator: Making the Dream a Reality This is a workshop led by Douglas Neff (Epic Win! The Geek’s Guide to the Journey from Fan to Creator) that takes a very practical approach to getting your creative project on track and finished. Not just for writers, this is like learning kung fu so you can fight thru all the BS that gets in the way when you’re trying to create something cool. Saturday 10am
Winner for the most useful panel with the most cumbersome name goes to Calling All Aspiring Writers: Get Advice From Her Universe Press and Publishing Experts on How to Prepare a Pitch and How to Get a Book Published – Ok, but true enough that after typing all that out I don’t have to explain what the panel is. Featuring founder of Her Universe (and Ahsoka Tano on Clone Wars!!) Ashley Eckstein with Heather Nuhfer (Weirdest), E. Anne Convery (The Confidence Chronicles) and Christina Hobbs (pen name Christina Lauren). Saturday 2pm
KidLit: Writing and Illustrating Books for Children – Becoming a children’s author sounds like low-hanging fruit to the uninitiated. It is not. Get some insider guidance from Henry Herz (Monster Goose Nursery Rhymes), Antoinette Portis (Not a Box, Froodle, etc), Barney Saltzberg (Beautiful Oops!) and others. Saturday 3pm
What To Think About Before You Start Writing – Marv Wolfman (an Eisner Hall of Famer) approaches this from a comic book angle – but thinking about your plot, theme, characters and story in preparation for first draft is pretty universal, and that’s what this one is about. Saturday 3pm
DUDE. This one is not about prose/novel or comic book writing – this is about screenwriting (mostly for TV), BUT I went to one of these panels last year (with my pal Hunter S Thompson) and it was fascinating. Working in a writers’ room is so different from how most of us ever work. I can’t guarantee you’ll walk away with useful nuggets of writery wisdom, but there’s a pretty good chance you will. Or, maybe you are a screenwriter, in which case you should definitely go to this one. The panelists are all legit working TV writers. Inside the Writers’ Room: Pilots, Production and Post, Oh My Saturday 6pm
(If TV writing is your thing, you’ll also want to check out Behind Every Great TV Show, which features Amber Benson (Buffy), Carolyn Omine (The Simpsons) and others. Sunday 1230pm
Words Create Worlds: Lessons from a Storyteller is kinda broad, but def useful if you’re just starting out or trying to get back to fundamentals. James Morris (The Three Kingdoms series) leads this interactive workshop that covers the storytelling process. Saturday 6pm
Come back Sunday morning to build on what you learned with James Morris in the Winner Twins’ (The Strand series) How to Create Your Own Novel: From the First Idea to Publishing and What You Need to Sell Your Work to TV and Film. Again with the long title, again with me not having to explain. Besides the Winner Twins (didn’t know they were a thing, but guess so) this panel also features Steven-Elliot Altman and Richard Hatch (yes, that Richard Hatch – BSG FTW). Sunday 1130am
Ask-an-Agent – Ok, now, see? Look at that panel title: both clear and succinct. Agents Holly Root, Kate Testerman and Brandy Rivers answer all your Qs about manuscript querying, film rights, etc.. Don’t try to pitch anything, though – or your overpriced corn dog will be confiscated. Sunday 230pm
In your furious scramble to finish your Elektra costume, don’t forget to find your programs and make yourself a little schedule. There will be lines at some of these, and you don’t wanna get locked out in the icy tundra of the hallway.
– Come prepared to take notes. Also, review your notes later – otherwise, why the hell did you take notes?! (Sorry, pet peeve.)
– Sit towards the back. Why? Because if it sucks (or just turns out to not be what you were looking for), you should, in fact, leave – cuz Wondercon – I mean, Life – is short. BUT that person leading the thing is a human being, and they are putting their wisdom/experience on the chopping block to teach you something. There is no need to make them feel like a loser. Now, there is a good way to leave, and a bad way to leave. The bad way is to stand up languidly, as if waking up from a nap, and just stroll out like you have better things to do. The good way is as follows: suddenly look at your phone, with sort of a large, dramatic gesture, and then gather your things “hastily” and with a very concerned scowl on your face (maybe still looking at your phone) head straight out the door. The speaker won’t think you’re leaving on account of them, it will look like you just got terrible news via text, and that something horrible has happened in your world. If you can make yourself cry, even better.
– They might revoke my press pass for saying this, but bring your own snacks. Those jerks at the LA Convention Center charge way way way too much for their crappy food. Save your money for the things you really want.
– Take the train/subway – don’t pay their crimes-against-humanity parking fees. Also, cosplay on the train is the best; pretend you’re in Harajuku.
– Cosplay or don’t cosplay – don’t half-ass it.
– There’s a lot to see; remember to breathe like a Jedi.