Thursday, February 15, 2007

New York City

I recently returned from having spent 3 days in New York City at SCBWI's annual mid-winter conference. I wish everyone writing children's books could have been there. It was informative and inspirational. The latter is what I needed most!
Keynote speakers included Susan Cooper, Katharine Patterson, Brian Selznick and Ann Brashares.

I was looking forward to hearing Ann speak, as her book "The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants" is one of my favorites. She spoke about her own thoughts on writing:

  1. Make it fun: Even though we consider books to be a source of education and feel we must always learn from books, she encourages authors to keep books fun for kids. A pleasurable read is most important. She says, "One book can turn you into a reader...make sure it's a happy one."
  2. Make it good: It's all about the scene. Learn how to write a really good scene. Learn structure and tell the story you've been dying to tell.
  3. The teenage years: She asks us to remember that writing for teens is about writing about a person in their teenage years. It's a stage of life. Try to consider what things are important to a person during this time. Make it relevant. She discourages the use of brand names. They only date a book.
Friday's Writer's Intensive, was well, rather intensive. No one really knew what to expect as this was the first time SCBWI had done this. The format was simple. Fifteen minutes, five hundred words, multiple comments from other participants including one agent/editor. You had two opportunities to do this. Pick the same piece, different section, whatever worked for you. I chose my first two pages in the morning and a 500-word synopsis for the afternoon. The morning session exposed more concrete comments than the afternoon session. I wouldn't recommend bringing a synopsis to a critique like this. It's just too hard to be constructive. Still, whittling down a synopsis to 500 words was worth the effort.

It was great meeting fellow writers across the country: Kathy and Linda from California, James from New Jersey, Dawn from Connecticut, Laura and Teresa from Colorado and Stacy from...where are you from again?
I look forward to experiencing more nerve racking writer's intensives with you guys!
T
This is a cartoon Dawn drew after our laugh attack at a New York Deli. I'm, of course, the ditzy blonde and Dawn is the curly brunette. Thanks, Dawn...so many laughs.

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