Day

Event Type

Tags

Location

Virtual Access

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

7:00 pm EST

Breaking a Story, Hollywood-Style

Older (Virtual), 7:00 pm EST View Replay

In Hollywood, “breaking a story” means listing each scene in a story and arranging them in order for maximum dramatic effect. This panel will discuss how to apply this technique to novels and other narratives.

Type: Panel

Thursday, December 16, 2021

11:30 am EST

Balancing Story and Scientific Authenticity

Older (Virtual), 11:30 am EST View Replay

Many readers love real science, or just the appearance of real science, in their science fiction. It is no small challenge to create compelling literature that also triggers a scientific sense of wonder. Panelists discuss how to do it right.

Type: Panel

But, I Don’t Want to be a Hero

Blue Room, 11:30 am EST View Replay

The reluctant hero is a solid staple of fiction and comic books. Panelists discuss how to write the heroes who never wanted to be, what motivates them, how to maintain their reluctance throughout a whole series, and how to make them relatable to readers.

Type: Panel
Tags: Writing

1:00 pm EST

Is There a Doctor in the House?

Forum Room, 1:00 pm EST *

After the fight, what shape is your hero in? Can they realistically carry on hero-ing in the next scene, or will they need a recovery scene before jumping back into the fray? What are some good ways to plausibly introduce complications into the healing and medical processes established in your setting to make the hero’s recovery more interesting?

Type: Panel

Poverty and Wealth Inequality in Science Fiction

Kress (Virtual), 1:00 pm EST View Replay

How are the productivity gains depicted in science fiction distributed? Why do so many stories feature an oligarchical ruling class? Does the expression of class differ across times, cultures, and nations? How do science fiction and fantasy writers discuss the intersection of class and other modes of oppression and discrimination? 

Type: Panel

To Pseud or Not to Pseud

Older (Virtual), 1:00 pm EST View Replay

Is it best to publish under the name in your wallet? Should you have different names for every genre, or put all your work under a single name so your fans can find you? Is it disingenuous to use a pen name to imply an identity that’s not your own, or is this just creative expression? Under what circumstances does using a pen name cross a line? Panelists explore these questions, and the degree to which authors “become” their pen names.

Type: Panel

Working with an Agent

Empire Ballroom, 1:00 pm EST *

It’s 2021, do you still need an agent? Typically, yes! Agents are very useful, not only in securing a traditional book deal, but also in handling contract disputes, foreign rights, and helping you land that elusive movie or TV option. Panelists will discuss when and why agents are useful, and how to determine if your agent is doing the best job for you.

Type: Panel

2:30 pm EST

Ask an Editor: Short Fiction Writing

Blue Room, 2:30 pm EST View Replay

What makes a good short story? How do you know it’s ready? Where should you send it and how should you respond to comments? This is your chance to ask burning questions to a panel of respected short fiction editors.

Type: Panel

Language in Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror

Congressional On-Site Viewing (Virtual), 2:30 pm EST View Replay

From The Languages of Pao to Embassytown, authors from all eras have explored the limits of humankind’s greatest invention: language. In this panel, linguists and language experts discuss what works and what doesn’t, and how to walk the line between science and science fiction with respect to language.

Type: Panel

Webcomic Workshop

Presidential Board Room, 2:30 pm EST *

Storyboard artist and fantasy writer Tenaya Anue walks workshop participants through the nuts and bolts of creating the characters, storylines, and images for webcomics. Appropriate for attendees of all ages and skill levels.

Type: Workshop

Worldbuilding Through Food

Kress (Virtual), 2:30 pm EST View Replay

Food can be a vital element to help readers better understand the world of a speculative fiction story. How does technology in your story define the food culture (or is it the other way around)? What does the food say about trade and commerce, and how does it reflect class structure?

Type: Panel

4:00 pm EST

Ask An Editor: Long-Form Writing

Kress (Virtual), 4:00 pm EST View Replay

What makes a good novel? How do you know it’s ready? Where should you send it and how should you respond to comments? This is your chance to ask burning questions to a panel of respected agents and editors.

Type: Panel

Building an Urban Fantasy

Older (Virtual), 4:00 pm EST View Replay

We all know what cities look like. How do you take that foundation and turn it into a setting for your urban fantasy story? This panel will offer tips and suggestions to get you started.

Type: Panel

Reviewing: Widely or Deeply?

Congressional On-Site Viewing (Virtual), 4:00 pm EST View Replay

Presented with all of SFF to review, how does a reviewer determine their beat? Should they read widely, and address work as a knowledgeable generalist, or read deeply within their specialty, and bring that specialty to bear? Reviewers will discuss their practices of how they choose what to review or not to review, their path to their current specialty, if any, and their intentions for future work.

Type: Panel

The Art of Filling in the Program Survey

Harris (Virtual), 4:00 pm EST View Replay

Program participation surveys vary in form and interest, but they all have one thing in common: they want to know what makes you interesting and what you can offer. All program teams can tell similar stories: “you know me, just assign me to something,” topics so popular they could run nonstop for 35 hours with a different team every hour, “I know nothing about this but I love talking about it so I’m ideal.” Come to this panel to learn what program teams really want to know about you.

Type: Panel

Worldbuilding Spacefaring Civilizations

Blue Room, 4:00 pm EST View Replay

How can you, as a writer, effectively build a spacefaring civilization into your work? What parts of space empires can be directly extrapolated from world history, and what elements will you need that are unique to interstellar commerce, diplomacy, warfare, and lifestyles?

Type: Panel

5:30 pm EST

Finding the Authorial Voice

Forum Room, 5:30 pm EST *

Story, characters, and plot are important, but what often defines a book is the feel of the prose. It can turn a merely adequate story into a raging success… or an excellent story into something barely tolerable. The voice as heard by the reader is critically important. So, what defines voice? From stylistic choices like dialect and punctuation to narrative choices like POV, this panel will discuss how to find the authorial voice that best fits you.

Type: Panel
Tags: Writing

7:00 pm EST

Writing “Gray” Markets

Congressional On-Site Viewing (Virtual), 7:00 pm EST View Replay

Legally speaking, whether you can buy or sell body parts in the U.S. is an extremely gray area. You can’t sell a human kidney… unless it’s pickled in a jar, in which case you can. Sort of. Sometimes. How do you convey this kind of semi-legality in your imagined world? This panel will discuss worldbuilding through the lens of legal and semi-legal commerce.

Type: Panel

Friday, December 17, 2021

10:00 am EST

So Happy Together

Kress (Virtual), 10:00 am EST View Replay

Collaboration can be exhilarating—and infuriating. What’s the key to making it work? How do you stay true to your own voice while working on a project with someone else? How do you develop an idea together? This panel will discuss different techniques for working with a partner (including dividing the labor and communicating), as well as the psychological aspects of a partnership (when to compromise, how to play to each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and more).

Type: Panel
Tags: Writing

11:30 am EST

Interviewing 101: How To Talk to the Press

Older (Virtual), 11:30 am EST View Replay

Got a book coming out? Got a project you want people to know about? Are you an expert in something? Then you need to get your voice heard in the media! It’s not as scary as you might think it is, but good prep, a little research and some training can turn you into the kind of source reporters will want to speak to again and again. And each time, they’ll mention your book, or your craft, or your business, or your project! Randee Dawn is a veteran entertainment journalist for outlets including Variety, the LA Times and Today.com, and she’ll show you in this special interactive workshop how to be the one fielding the questions … and the one with all the answers.

1:00 pm EST

Crafting an Elevator Pitch

Diplomat Ballroom, 1:00 pm EST *

Success is equal parts preparation and luck—so be prepared when luck puts you in the right place at the right time! How do you get ready for a pitch opportunity with an editor or producer, when you may have less than a minute to sell your dream project?

Type: Panel

Lost (or Gained) in Translation?

Older (Virtual), 1:00 pm EST *

Translation is more than simply replacing words. Translators must ensure that the target audience can understand the work, while communicating the author’s voice as closely as possible. Panelists will discuss the creative art of translating and how translation can enhance, detract from, or even recontextualize an original text.

Type: Panel

Rigor and Ranking: Reviewing

Congressional On-Site Viewing (Virtual), 1:00 pm EST *

This panel will cover what makes for a great review? How does one go about becoming a reviewer? Where would one go to read SFF reviews? What is the benefit of a critical review, and how does one write such a review well? If a reviewer makes a misstep in a review, how should an editor respond?

Type: Panel

The Softer Side of Science Fiction

Blue Room, 1:00 pm EST *

What is “social science fiction?” How have authors used ideas from “soft” sciences like sociology, anthropology, and linguistics to craft convincing future scenarios, telling fascinating stories while shedding light on current human problems?

Type: Panel

2:30 pm EST

Sublight Diplomacy

Forum Room, 2:30 pm EST *

Conflict and peacemaking, setting or altering territorial boundaries, regulating trade, resolving disputes of all kinds, the protection of citizens abroad, protection of investments and protection from exploitation, promises of cooperation and mutual assistance—most forms of diplomacy (and even the need for diplomacy at all) are predicated on close contact and rapid communication. How do you conduct interstellar diplomacy without FTL travel, or at least FTL communication? Why would you want to?

Type: Panel

The Never-Ending Story: Series Fiction

Congressional On-Site Viewing (Virtual), 2:30 pm EST View Replay

Sometimes it seems as if series fiction dominates the field. Every author has a sequel in the works, trilogies become five books, ten books, and sometimes the author dies before the series ends. This panel will discuss what you can do with a series that you can’t do with a standalone, the different pleasures of connected stories set in one world, and the series that is a single story.

Type: Panel
Tags: Writing

The Wizard’s Butler Did It: Fantasy Whodunits

Harris (Virtual), 2:30 pm EST View Replay

Mysteries are popular in fantasy settings. How do you make a crime story and mystery work in a fantasy setting with magic and fantastic elements? What can an author do to take best advantage of the fantasy setting, and ensure that methods and opportunities enabled through fantastic means are neither blatantly obvious nor impossible to predict in advance?

Type: Panel
Tags: Writing

4:00 pm EST

Envisioning Black Futures

Thomas (Virtual), 4:00 pm EST View Replay

What does it mean to envision Black futures? This panel will discuss Afrofuturism, Africanfuturism, and methods to draw on the mythology and history of the African diaspora to imagine technologically advanced tomorrows and fantastical alternate universes.

Type: Panel

Translation Slam

Cabinet Room, 4:00 pm EST *

Many of us enjoy reading speculative fiction in translation, but don’t appreciate the nuanced work that goes into creating it. In this translation slam*, each panelist has translated a piece from its original language into English. They will share their translations with the audience and discuss their decision-making process and the nuances that went into their choices.

*slam (noun, informal): a performance in which competitors recite their entries to an audience

Type: Panel

Writing to Spec

Calvert Room, 4:00 pm EST *

Plenty of paid writing jobs involve writing to spec—that is, writing to an assigned topic and style. From comics to licensed properties to ghostwritten novels, writing to spec can be both lucrative and frustrating. How can you find the best compromise between your artistic voice and your client’s expectations? How closely will you be expected to hew to your assignment? What goes into writing a “bible” anyway? Writers and editors who have worked for different companies share their experiences.

Type: Panel

5:30 pm EST

Asexual Characters Done Right

Calvert Room, 5:30 pm EST *

Asexual characters are on the rise in speculative fiction, and it’s about time! Panelists will discuss their favorite recent ace characters and storylines, how to portray nuanced ace relationships, and common pitfalls and errors to avoid.

Type: Panel

When Plot Twists Go Bad

Kress (Virtual), 5:30 pm EST View Replay

When a story denies the audience the narrative they expect, reactions can range from “What a clever twist!” to “That’s awful,” to even “I feel used.” What causes some unexpected plot developments to disappoint rather than delight—and how do you craft a satisfying surprise?

Type: Panel
Tags: Writing

7:00 pm EST

Writing Short Fiction

Blue Room, 7:00 pm EST View Replay

Most writing classes and how-to books focus on writing novels, but short fiction (from flash fiction to vignettes to short stories) requires its own set of skills. Panelists discuss techniques for developing ideas—worldbuilding, plot, characterization—within the parameters of short fiction.

Type: Panel
Tags: Writing

8:30 pm EST

The Morphology of Fantasy Creatures

Diplomat Ballroom, 8:30 pm EST View Replay

Do elves and pixies have better hearing because their ears are pointed, and if so, why do they need it? Big Bird is eight feet tall, has thumbs, and forward-facing eyes. Does that make him an apex pursuit predator? (No, he’s a charismatic herbivorous megafauna.) And don’t get us started on Cookie Monster…

Type: Panel

Saturday, December 18, 2021

8:30 am EST

Gender and African SF

Congressional On-Site Viewing (Virtual), 8:30 am EST View Replay

Some African countries have a reputation for homophobia and entrenched gender roles. Yet among younger African writers, feminism and concern for LGBTQI+ rights are almost signature issues, marking a clear generational divide. Panelists will discuss the history, the present, and expectations for the future.

Type: Panel

10:00 am EST

Decentering the U.S. in SFF Publishing

Thomas (Virtual), 10:00 am EST View Replay

There are thriving speculative fiction publishers, magazines, writers and communities in many places outside the U.S. How do these communities position themselves relative to other SFF markets and readers? How successful are they?

Type: Panel

Pitching Your Novel to Agents & Publishers

Presidential Board Room, 10:00 am EST *

A professional publisher and editor teaches writers how to pitch their novel.

Type: Workshop

Story Structures Besides the Hero’s Journey

Older (Virtual), 10:00 am EST View Replay

Tell me if you’ve heard this one: a young, inexperienced character goes on a journey, gets tested, overcomes a great challenge, and returns home triumphant. Yeah, yeah—been there, done that! Let’s explore story structures that aren’t the standard three-act hero’s journey.

Type: Panel
Tags: Writing

The Culture of the Unconquered

Empire Ballroom, 10:00 am EST *

Black Panther, in comics and film, provides a view of an African country that has never been conquered or colonized. This panel will discuss what it means for a civilization to develop entirely on its own without the interference of “white gaze.” What other authors have imagined the culture of the unconquered?

Type: Panel

The Nuts and Bolts of Chapters

Blue Room, 10:00 am EST View Replay

Do you even need chapters? How long should they be? Should you title your chapters or just number them? Where do you break a chapter, and how do you write a good cliffhanger? How do you write chapters with multiple character points of view? So much to discuss for such a small topic!

Type: Panel
Tags: Writing

Writing About the Thing We Love: Fan Writing.

Congressional On-Site Viewing (Virtual), 10:00 am EST View Replay

Writing passionately about our genres is, for many of us, what it’s all about. The internet has supported an explosion of fan writing in many forms, on many topics. Good-quality fan writing can now be found about almost every thing. In this panel Hugo-nominated authors will talk about their fan writing, why they write it, and what they think makes good fan writing.

Type: Panel

11:30 am EST

Considering Climate Change in Your Worldbuilding

Kress (Virtual), 11:30 am EST View Replay

In 2016, Amitav Ghosh wrote: “Climate change is like death, no one wants to talk about it.” But climate change is an unavoidable fact of the near future, which any novel set in the next century must take into account. Even if your novel is not a story about climate change, changing temperatures and rising sea levels will impact your setting and worldbuilding. Let’s talk about what might happen and how it should be reflected in your work.

Type: Panel

Decolonizing Secondary World Fantasy

Older (Virtual), 11:30 am EST View Replay

Secondary world fantasy gives opportunities to shape narrative and setting in forward-looking ways, yet so often writers look backwards and lean on facile historical analogues. How do you free your worldbuilding from, or use it to oppose, colonialist narratives when our own history is so inextricably linked with colonialist expansion?

Type: Panel

Short Fiction, Expanded

Diplomat Ballroom, 11:30 am EST View Replay

Sometimes an excellent short story or novella demands to be fleshed out and republished as a novel. How can you do this successfully, and what are some of the pitfalls to avoid? When is the expansion an enhancement, and when is it just a marketing necessity?

Type: Panel
Tags: Writing

The Tiffany Problem in Historical Fantasy

Harris (Virtual), 11:30 am EST View Replay

The name Tiffany sounds modern, but is actually old. Sometimes historical accuracy can look like an anachronism to modern readers. How should writers address this? When should you change things to seem more plausible, and when should you stand your ground?

Type: Panel

Video Game Writing as a Discipline

Congressional On-Site Viewing (Virtual), 11:30 am EST View Replay

For a long time, video game writing was seen as a separate discipline from, and often inferior to, more “serious” speculative media. As video game narratives become increasingly complex, and gameplay becomes more sophisticated, is it still useful to define video game writing as a separate discipline? If so, why?

Type: Panel

1:00 pm EST

The Magnificent Novella

Blue Room, 1:00 pm EST View Replay

Novellas are thriving. Benefiting from the work of small presses and the opportunities of digital magazines, the form has received a new lease of life. These authors will discuss the novella in terms of craft and form, in regards to their own work, and the growing landscape of novellas produced both by the lovely folks at Tor and elsewhere. 

Type: Panel

When Does Evil Become Irredeemable?

Forum Room, 1:00 pm EST *

Any interesting, complex character will have positive and negative qualities. Is there a point when a character steps so far over the line into evil that they can never again be viewed sympathetically? If it exists, where do we draw the line? Does it move depending on how much we like a particular character?

Type: Panel

Worldbuilding in Speculative Horror

Thomas (Virtual), 1:00 pm EST View Replay

A horror setting generally starts with a safe and familiar world, and then introduces strange and frightening elements. But what if you don’t want to use the real world as your setting? How do you construct a horror novel that takes place in an entirely speculative world? What techniques can make the unfamiliar a safe starting point on which to build your horror?

Type: Panel

2:30 pm EST

2020 Ruined My Novel!

Forum Room, 2:30 pm EST *

2020 was a giant curveball for the entire world. Everyone was affected in one way or another. What about authors? Our panelists will discuss what changes they had to make to their 2020 work-in-progress to accommodate all the weird things that were happening in the real world.

Type: Panel
Tags: Writing

Martial Arts & Situational Awareness for Writers

Presidential Board Room, 2:30 pm EST *

A martial arts instructor teaches simple body mechanics and awareness of surroundings which anyone can practice. This workshop helps writers to visualize spaces to prepare for action and fight scenes, and to look at ways to choreograph engaging action so the blocking is clear to readers. We’ll focus on simple movement, activities with hands (martial arts), and activities with melee weapons.

Type: Workshop

Writing Believable Children

Thomas (Virtual), 2:30 pm EST View Replay

How old is too old for baby talk? Is it normal for seven-year-olds to talk about death? Can we just write children as small adults? Panelists walks us through how to write more realistic children for any audience (not just YA).

Type: Panel
Tags: Writing

4:00 pm EST

Speculative F(r)iction

Harris (Virtual), 4:00 pm EST View Replay

Smut? In our speculative fiction? Of course! Let’s talk about what’s trendy in speculative erotica and the state of erotica publishing. What are the current awards, and who judges them? How is erotic romance different from erotica, and is the distinction useful for writers or publishers?

Type: Panel

Why Do We Love Novellas and Novelettes?

Cabinet Room, 4:00 pm EST *

Novellas and novelettes are having a moment right now. What makes them effective? Is it because they can home in on a specific idea or emotional payoff in depth, that they are the perfect length for one reading session, or some other kind of magic? What are some of our favorites to read, and what is it that draws authors to write at these lengths?

Type: Panel

5:30 pm EST

The Complexities of War

Blue Room, 5:30 pm EST View Replay

Fantasy and science fiction seem to have a love affair with battles where two armies charge headlong at each other across vast plains or the immense vacuum of space for no good reason, and there is a notable absence of blood, bowels, and trauma. What are the best examples of realistic warfare? What methods can writers use to make battle sequences both interesting and reasonably true to life? How do we convey the complexities of war?

Type: Panel

Washington, DC, in Speculative Fiction

Cabinet Room, 5:30 pm EST *

Washington, DC, is a popular and compelling setting for mysteries and political thrillers, but what about speculative fiction? How is DC and its culture represented in science fiction and fantasy? How can you avoid reducing this complex city to a caricature? Which writers get it right, and how badly do some get it wrong?

Type: Panel

7:00 pm EST

From Page to Stage: Producing Your Own Plays

Kress (Virtual), 7:00 pm EST View Replay

Have you ever wanted to bring a scene to life on stage? This workshop will walk you through the process from writing to production.

Type: Workshop

Sunday, December 19, 2021

8:30 am EST

Climate Change & African Narratives

Thomas (Virtual), 8:30 am EST View Replay

A panel of African authors and editors discuss how climate change is viewed in new African fiction.

Type: Panel

10:00 am EST

Preparing Your Manuscript for Submission

Older (Virtual), 10:00 am EST View Replay

A small press manager guides participants through the general formatting and submissions guidelines for most publishers and agents. We will provide examples of dos and don’ts for manuscript submissions.

Type: Workshop

Representing Multilingual Worlds

Kress (Virtual), 10:00 am EST View Replay

Civilizations of the past have tended to be multilingual, sometimes with more than one common language along with various local languages and dialects. What are some ways to represent this diversity in a fictional text? How can linguistic diversity enhance other facets of storytelling?

Type: Panel
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