Front row: Amanda Downum. Second row: Marshall Maresca, Martha Wells, Scott Johnson. Third row: Guest of Honor Anne Bishop, Jessica Reisman, Cat Rambo.
Part of a writers' workshop is having a group of writers (beginners and pros) critique your story. A critique group, according to Robert Bennett, can tell you when there is a toilet in kitchen -- or an equivalent thereof in your novel. He also says that being a writer is like being a velociraptor -- you keep running into fences, and your body parts fall off, until... the metaphor breaks down. :-)
Amanda Downum recommends beginner writers to get a slush-reading gig. You will see all the mistakes that beginner writers make. You probably think "nobody really writes all those grubby apartment stories, or dream sequences. Why are people complaining about it?" And then you'll see 5-8 of them in a row in a slushpile, and you'll understand why they don't work.
Read more about ArmadilloCon in my blog posts, especially about the ever-popular What You Should Have Read panel, where our well-read panelists recommend the year's best science fiction, fantasy, and horror books.