Skip to main content

5 Things Fan Conventions Taught Me About Writing Novels

Inspiration can come from anywhere. Romance and urban fantasy writer Seressia Glass discusses how attending fan conventions has helped her writing process and how they can help yours.

I love conventions. Although there are a few on my bucket list (like the comic cons of New York and San Diego) I really enjoy regional fan conventions like my hometown’s Dragon Con. There are also plenty of great reader-focused conventions that I love attending.

(Seressia Glass: On Cosplaying Feelings in Romantic Comedy)

As I’ve attended cons over the years, both as a fan and an attending professional, I’ve learned a few things navigating different panels and fandoms that help me write—some obvious, some subtle. So here’s a list of things fan conventions taught me about writing novels.

There are fans out there for nearly everything, even if it’s niche.

With thousands of people cosplaying, watching anime, playing games, etc., there’s something for everyone. That can be true for your quirky idea as well. If you love what you’re writing, that comes through on the page, and somewhere out there is a reader looking for that exact story.

5 Things Fan Conventions Taught Me About Writing Novels

IndieBound | Bookshop | Amazon
[WD uses affiliate links.]

You have to put yourself out there.

This one can be hard, especially for the introverts out there (I’m one) trying to navigate through crowds of fans—or thousands of authors. You can’t stay in the shadows hoping to be noticed. You have to let people know you exist. If there’s a trope you love to write, chances are there are other people who love it too. Find your people, interact with them, cultivate them. Fellow fans can become supporters and your fans too.

Everyone has a story.

Fans come to conventions for a wide variety of reasons and that reason is their “why.” The answer to that why may not be the most dramatic story, but when you mine its depths and answer that why, you could uncover a goldmine of a concept. Everyone has a story, and there’s a story for everyone. In this melting pot of a world, different narratives should have a seat at the table. Just because your story doesn’t fit the established mold doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be told.

5 Things Fan Conventions Taught Me About Writing Novels

Don’t be afraid to answer the question, “What if…?”

The best part of fan conventions is people-watching, and watching people in their various cosplays interacting with each other can spark great ideas. “What if Spike Spiegel and the crew of the Bebop met Mal and the crew of Serenity?” could launch a space opera series or “What if the Black Panther met Panthro?” could spark an epically funny mistaken identity snarkfest.

Have fun.

This one is a no-brainer of course, but sometimes we as writers put ourselves under a tremendous amount of pressure. Yes, it’s a career, but it’s a career we chose because we love it. We worry about being “on,” worry about marketing, worry about the sagging middle, worry about selling enough books. You’re at the con to have fun, and by being your authentic, fun self, you may just garner new fans.

Writing the Romance Novel

Do you yearn to write a romantic story? If so, you need to know what sets romance writing apart from other types of fiction. This course explores why romance is the same, yet different. Some essential components of romance are unique to the genre, while some romance requirements are identical to those of any good fiction story.

Click to continue.

Jane Porter: On the Joy of Writing Mature Characters

Jane Porter: On the Joy of Writing Mature Characters

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jane Porter discusses celebrating the nature of getting older in her new romance novel, Flirting With Fifty.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 610

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a "different way of seeing the world" poem.

How To Research Topics Like a Journalist

How To Research Topics Like a Journalist

From in-person interviews to scouring the web for credible sources, journalist Alison Hill shares tips on how to research topics like a journalist.

Can I Have Your Attention?

Can I Have Your Attention?

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, an announcement is about to change the course of history.

Glenn Boozan: On the Funny Side of Parenting

Glenn Boozan: On the Funny Side of Parenting

Emmy nominated comedy writer Glenn Boozan discusses how a funny piece of perspective turned into her new humor book, There Are Moms Way Worse Than You.

From Script

Adapting True Crime and True Stories for Television (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, exclusive interviews with writers and showrunners Robert Siegel and D.V. DeVincentis (“Pam & Tommy”), Patrick Macmanus and Liz Hannah (“The Girl from Plainville”) who both have taken creative liberties in adapting true stories for a limited series.

Chanel Cleeton: On Reader Enthusiasm Conjuring Novel Ideas

Chanel Cleeton: On Reader Enthusiasm Conjuring Novel Ideas

Author Chanel Cleeton discusses how reader curiosity led her to write her new historical fiction novel, Our Last Days in Barcelona.

Writer's Digest Interview | Marlon James Quote

The Writer's Digest Interview: Marlon James

Booker Prize–winning author Marlon James talks about mythology and world-building in his character-driven epic Moon Witch, Spider King, the second book in his Dark Star Trilogy in this interview from the March/April 2022 issue of Writer's Digest.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: New Podcast Episode, a Chance at Publication, and More!

This week, we're excited to announce our newest podcast episode, your chance to be published, and more!