SCBWI Oklahoma Fall Conference

Anything is better than nothing. . .when it comes to my personal goal to write at least 15 minutes every day (even Saturdays and Sundays). Here are some of the highlights of what I learned at the SCWBI Oklahoma fall conference.

From Diane Curtis Regan's session:
Write precisely, especially for children.
Life is in the details. When you're writing a novel, the rules don't change. Cut to the chase.
Agents are eager for authors who can write novels and picture books.
On the importance and value of revising, "If I had more time, I'd write you a shorter letter" & "A successful book is not made of what's in it, but what is left out of it."--Mark Twain 
Dialogue must ring true.
Don't underestimate their desire to search for books that make them think.
Catch the reader in the first page.
Don't open a book with 1)character looking into mirror and describing self 2)character waking up and thinking about life. Begin with action.
June-August is a slow time with publishers. Submit books after September so your queries don't sit on their desk all summer and get lost in the shuffle.

From the writers' critique of first 150 words of your story:

Keep tension in every sentence, especially with picture books.
Search book titles/subjects/etc on Amazon to see how many people have already written your idea.
Start with dialogue (show, don't tell)
The first few lines at the bottom of the first page of your manuscript are the editors' first impressions. 
Change emotions to non-standard parts of the body.
"Gray" with an "a" is the American spelling

Session on picture books with Kelly Bennett:
4 Types of Picture Books: 1)Tells a story 2)Concept 3)Creative Nonfiction 4)Wordless
Board books are mainly written in-house
Picture Storybooks don't need the illustrations to tell the story. They are generally wordier.
Your writing has to be punchier and spicier because you're competing with TV.
Publishers want adventure and humor.
Picture books start with either the problem (what if. . .) or the character (who). This has to be established in the first two scenes.
Story is when change is involved. An incident is when no change is involved. Write stories, not incidents.
Major picture book mistake: too much adult in the story. Don't protect the characters; let them get in enough trouble. Picture books teach children how to cope with the world. Let the character do what you wouldn't. If your book makes you laugh, try to laugh harder. If it disgusts you, make it disgust you more. 
Today's successful books are character-driven.
Cut down to action and dialogue (consider dialogue instead of narration).
The adjectives, thoughts and emotions are for the illustrations. Keep them out of your story.
No passive voice. Use action verbs. 
The beginning and end of a picture book are almost the same thing.
All picture books have both story and a universal truth.

1 comment:

Kristin said...

Those are really great tips (that I'll have to keep in mind). Your background is adorable, by the way.