A couple weeks ago, I headed out to Western Mass. for the New England SCBWI conference. There were so many people there that it was a little overwhelming, but I ran into lots of writing friends and former students, and overall I had a great time.
I took pages and pages of notes, so I thought I’d recap/paraphrase some things that really stood out to me.
Sharon Creech (in her keynote speech):
-If you start writing, the ideas will come…Words generate words.
-Don’t be in a hurry to publish your story. Let it sit and see if you can deepen it.
-Don’t think about characters. Think about people.
Kate Messner (in her workshop on revision):
-Find the reason the heart of your story speaks to the heart of a child.
-Think of a first draft as a stem cell that can turn into any other type of cell.
-Try asking: “How could my main character make his/her situation worse?”
Kami Kinard (in her workshop on humor):
-Think embarrassment, exaggeration, and disaster!
-Put beats into your writing/dialogue to give readers time to process the humor.
Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen (in her workshop on rhyme):
-Make sure rhyme is best for your story.
-When the rhyme works, the reader barely notices the story is written in rhyme.
-If you break the meter, make sure it’s deliberate (for emphasis, etc.)
-Slow down the pacing to draw out the tension.
Grace Lin (in her keynote speech):
-The idea that a “mutlicultural book” will have a limited readership and will never be successful (as Grace was told when she was starting out) is clearly not true.
-Instead of recreating what other people are doing, find what’s unique to you that only you can do.
I’m still processing all the info from the conference, but I think Kate Messner’s reminder about finding the “heart” of your story was exactly what I needed to hear as I keep working on THE PRANK LIST.
Have a great weekend!