ThrillerFest 2017—Report #1

The best way to improve at some athletic endeavor is to train with and compete against those who are better at it than you are. If you want to be a better tennis player, play against those whose games are superior to yours. Faster runner? Train with a group of runners who are faster than you are. If you train solely on your own, you’ll quickly plateau and cease to improve.

The same advice applies to writers too. Where do you find an opportunity to spend time in the company of internationally bestselling writers? At writers conferences. For thriller writers, the Big Daddy of them all is ThrillerFest, an annual gathering in New York City in July. It’s sponsored by the International Thriller Writers or ITW. Membership in ITW provides much more than access to ThrillerFest. It publishes a number of helpful publications such as the weekly The Thrill Begins and the semi-month The Big Thrill. There’s also a weekly online roundtable in which a panel of authors discusses a particular aspect of thriller writing.

But it’s at ThrillerFest where an aspiring writer meets his or her favorite authors in person. Every one of them that I’ve met has been friendly and personable, willing to take time to chat with you and discuss the trade one-on-one. The conference begins on Tuesday with Master CraftFest. Small groups spend the day with a well-known bestselling author and go over a sample of each class member’s writing efforts. For example, this year I was in a group of ten that was led by Lee Child.

Wednesday and half of Thursday is devoted to CraftFest, a series of concurrent presentations and panel sessions involving the best in the business and covering all facets of the craft of writing thrillers. Thursday afternoon is PitchFest. This is where attendees meet one-on-one with literary agents and publishers’ representatives. This process has led to the discovery of a number of talented new writers.

Friday and Saturday are termed ThrillerFest. Again, it’s a series of concurrent sessions presented in panel format. These cover every genre of thrillers, as well as advice from the masters on publishing, marketing, and much more.

Overall, being exposed to the best-of-the-best all day everyday for a week will do wonders for your own writing.

Next in the Writers War Room we’ll begin discussing topics such as improving your craft, what currently works and what doesn’t, and directions in publishing and marketing.

© John Wayne Falbey 2017 All Rights Reserved