Top Tips from 15 Writing Panels

Most of the panels I attended at Balticon were focused on developing myself as a writer. Some of the panels were craft focused, but many were talking about all the things OTHER than writing that writers need to learn. So, here’s my list of the panels on writing as a craft and my favorite quote/tip/message from each. It was hard to pick a favorite, but I did it for you![1]

  1. Flipping the Script: Does Gender Change the Story

    • My gender experience matters more than my actual gender. – K.M. Szpara
  2. Tales From The Slush Pile

    • “Deathbear and the Snuggle of Doom”- a title cringed at by Joshua Bilmes
    • Read and follow the submission guidelines!- everyone
    • Don’t sell on a gimmick, write a good STORY and feel free to add the gimmick.
  3. Buy My S#*%

    • The presenter was unable to make it so we ended up having a group discussion!
  4. The Craft of Writing with Connie Willis [2]

    • Meet expectations, but with a twist: you can do anything as long as you set it up.
    • “I have never read a story without a plot that would not be improved by having one.”
  5. Writers Workshop — And Here’s the Pitch 

    • Include setting, main character(s), and goal. Get in and get out because you’ve got 1 elevator floor to get them to ask for more.
    • P.S. For everyone in this workshop with me, HERE’S the Thin Mint rant.
  6. Writing: It’s My Job AND What I Do For Fun!

    • Most writers know this isn’t competitive and go out of their way to help people. – Jean Marie Ward (everyone else agreed)
    • Learned that Book Doctors will rewrite your book for you, editors suggest fixes. Follow their suggestions in ways that make sense for your story.
  7. Finding a Foot To Stand On (writing believable SF)

    • “Never underestimate the power of gobbledegook.”
    • “I lie a lot.”
    • Heinlein did a ‘how man discovered the effect’ that felt like an explanation, but wasn’t. Clever work around to satisfy the reader!
  8. Vetting the Editors [3]

    • The Cardinal Sin of Editors: Remaking your story how THEY would have written it.
  9. Finding Your Niche

    • 90% of social media is resharing. Create original content and share that.
    • “[Success] depends on how much you’re willing to give up to make it happen.” – Day Al-Mohamed
    • “You want to make people care about your world.” – Ethan Siegel
  10. Finding Balance

    • “I went into marketing because it’s really another type of fiction.” – Gail Martin
  11. The Biggest Mistakes Made by Beginning Writers [4]

    • “Delusions of grandeur.” – Mike McPhail
    • Stupid Author Tricks list by David Wood
      • To sum up: Don’t advertise your work in comment, don’t spam people, and avoid flame wars.
  12. Speak Your Words: Bring Your Written Work To Audible Life

    • Younger is typically higher pitch, older is lower pitch. – Izolda Trakhtenberg
    • Never use a falsetto or mansetto for the opposite gender.
    • Use a different tone for the narrator if they also speak dialog
    • (Plus, she had us make clouds!)
  13. “How Do You Do It?” Creating Around a Day Job [5]

    • If you’re burnt out, read and consume media, you need to feed your creative side.
    • To help change gears, have a different space/machine/music/etc than work.
    • What works for you WILL change, it’s okay to switch it up. Be kind to yourself.
    • You’ve got give something up in order to write. – Mike Luoma
  14. Consequences

  15. How to Give and Get Critiques [4]

    • “Be there to help them write their story, not the story you would have written.” – Scott Edelman
    • One “Zero-sum” person in a writing group can ruin it. – Connie Willis

1- Most of the quotes are paraphrased/hastily scribbled down and may not be exact.
2- 8am Saturday morning and this was still packed–and worth it.
3- Needs another post- They went into PRICES and SPECIFICS!
4- Many useful links that will be shared in a later post.
5- Needs another post- about approaching creatives.



  1. Thanks for sharing this. I embarrassed to say I didn’t know Connie Willis was still alive. Your experiences read fun. Now, help grandpa out, what do you mean in second bullet point on number four?


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