The Ladder Literary Conference

The Ladder: Write

This is a list of all the panels at The Ladder Literary Conference that focus on the WRITE rung.


In Praise of Writing Prompts: A Generative Panel

9:45–11:00am, Room B

This generative panel will discuss the use of writing prompts to spark new writing projects; break out of writer’s block; and improve overall writing quality, agility, and practice. Teaching artists of Just Buffalo Literary Center’s Writing Center will present some of their most successful writing activities. Beyond discussion, participants will be invited to get writing and playing, guided by a series of prompts curated especially for Ladder conference attendees. Participants will also leave with a list of resources that provide high-quality creative writing prompts for writers of all ages.

Panelists: Robin Jordan, Alexis David, Joe Hall.


The Heart of the Matter: Character at the Core

9:45–11:00am, Room C

Character is the lifeblood of literary fiction. We read to discover, to connect, to understand. Once the reader cares about a character, she is invested in the story. But how do we create compelling characters and set them in motion? Join three writers of fiction as they discuss their methods, models, and inspiration for developing living, breathing characters.

Panelists: Rachel Hall, Kristen Gentry, Melanie Conroy-Goldman.


BOA Poets In and On Their Own Words

1:45-3:00pm, Room B

Three poets with books recently published by Rochester’s premier poetry publishing house, BOA Editions, will discuss the craft of poetry writing and the steps along the way to publication. Due to each poet’s unique background, writing style, and path to publication, this session will cover a wide range of approaches to living the life of a poet. The conversation will be moderated by poet/critic/professor Tony Leuzzi, whose collection of interviews with poets, Passwords Primeval: 20 American Poets in Their Own Words, was published by BOA in 2012. The talk will be enlightening, informative, and inspiring for poets at every stage of their development. There will also be a Q&A period and a book signing with all four participants at the end of the discussion.

Panelists: Chen Chen, Christine Kitano, Christopher Kennedy. Moderator: Tony Leuzzi.


Fiction vs. Nonfiction: Tackling the Tricky Question of Genre

3:15-4:30pm, Room B 

In recent decades, memoir has eclipsed fiction as the preferred way to craft and share personal stories. With creative nonfiction, fiction, prose poetry, and other hybrid forms as viable options, how do writers decide which genre is best for a project? How does approaching a story as a novel or stories (versus memoir) change the writing and its prospects? What are the benefits and pitfalls of each? Is this even a decision we make? How does genre suggest itself in relation to the content and purpose? In this conversation, three writers who work across the genres will address the opportunities, innovations, and trade-offs of each genre. They will discuss their own experiences as writers, as well as examples by well-known authors.

Panelists: Sejal Shah, Sonja Livingston, Chen Chen. Moderator: Karen (Ren) vanMeenen.