SCBWI – A Wealth of Writing Wonder
When I attended the Arkansas Chapter conference in Little Rock at the end of April, I had no idea what to expect. Yeah, I thought I’d meet a few writers. Yeah, I thought I’d hear some ‘talks’ on the ‘craft.’ ‘
Little did I realize the free sharing, the wealth of knowledge, the glowing passion for children’s literature that I experienced. Everything–character, plot, writing time, agents and agencies, e-publishing, and more were discussed and delivered on.
“Don’t internalize the negatives. The harder you work, the luckier you get.” – Katy Duffield, author of Farmer McPeeper and His Missing Milk Cows
Ariel Richardson from Chronicle Books shared on prioritizing the book over the child, noting that ‘the art challenges technology. Technology inspires art.” I never really knew the difference between ‘storybooks’ and ‘picture books.’ She related that storybooks are text-based, with decorative illustrations. Picture books are picture-based, with accompanying text. That has changed the way I’ve thought about my efforts.
Krista Vitola of Random House Children’s Divison presented priceless knowledge on ‘voice’ and its influence, power, and role in writing for children.
Characterization is a key element in any story. It depends on the honesty and rawness of a character, Krista explained, and is crucial to suspending disbelief, critical to a reader buying into the realness of a storyline and its players.
Ariel Richardson provided a broad and deep view of non-fiction for us, stressing Back-Matter, Voice, Narrative and Plot, and Character.
One thing that was so valuable was gaining a sensitivity to the market. Krista Vitola gave many examples of the process and successes in acquisition of Middle Grade and Young Adult literature. She stressed the values that are attractive to the current market: Uniqueness, High-Concept, Strong Voice, Touching, Marketability, Relevant Topics.
Not to mention that I DID meet some fabulous Arkansas writers with the same dreams as me. Some published and successful. Some just starting out. Some who have blogs you can subscribe to and get great writing instruction, advice, and inspiration. I rubbed elbows with writers and agents and illustrators. I bumped brains with them too.
All of this, over a day and a half, was a lot to digest. I’ve reviewed my notes a hundred times, I’ll bet. This experience has affected my writing. It has encouraged my effort.
It has validated my passion for this adventure.