I spent this past weekend at a wonderful SCBWI conference in San Diego. The best part: instead of being sequestered away for a day of pitches and workshops, I got to sit in on the main action to hear all the panels and talks.
Admittedly, I was a bit of a disaster at this event: I was late, I broke my chair, spilled my FULL coffee – twice – and started talking about flower porn (I’ve been assured that I was “adorable." Doh).
But when I wasn’t being destructo-agent, I was furiously note-taking, which means: time for a conference blog post!
In attendance with me:
The lovely Sarah Dotts Barley, editor at Harper Collins. Along with some inspiring E.B. White quotes (did you know Charlotte’s Web went through 8 drafts in 3 years?), I loved her advice on revising: don’t fall in love with your characters so much that you can’t hurt them. Because as much as we want to find someone who can write…we get SO EXCITED by someone who can REVISE (all agree!).
Jill Corcoran, agent at the Herman Agency, expanded that revision is, literally, a REIMAGINING of your book. It’s not a checklist to go through – and, I’ll also add, NOT a test on speed. Take the time to sit down and THINK about your characters, motivations, and re-(in)vision your execution.
After all, we agents are looking for the four Ps in a client, added Chris Richman of Upstart Crow: Patience, Professionalism, Perseverance, and Perspective (love that, by the way).
The fabulous Kira Lynn of Kane/Miller added insight into the thought process behind submission requirements: we need to know you know how to listen to what we say, and if you can’t listen to how to submit, that doesn’t bode well. In regards to pre-queries and cliff hangers in log lines (hooks) and synopses: you can’t tease us – we’ll just not want to play (wise, wise words my friends!).
Kim Griswell, editor at Boyds Mills Press, added THE highlight for me with her talk on voice. She NAILED it – and let me tell you, voice is the hardest. Thing. Ever. To talk about. In sum: voice is the quality that allows the reader to forget about the author. It has place – a taste of where you came from, what’s shaped YOU, the author, in life, and sensory details. The best voices reveal a piece of the writer – what YOU notice because of who you are -- which, I’ll add, makes sense; as humans we’re going to connect the most to real human voices, because it allows a character to seem real, which allows us to forget that they were written.
*Awesome revision tip for voice: go through your manuscript with five different colored highlighters, one for each sense. It’ll show you what you’re really doing as you write – and what you may need to expand on *
David Diaz, award-winning illustrator, offered the final insight into the world of picture book illustrations. Bottom line: they don’t tell you how to write – so don’t tell them how to illustrate. As an author, you don’t think as visually as they do; give them the space to bring the text to that level. They’ll bring out qualities in your work you could never have imagined when you do. So if you MUST have illustration notes, say them “as a direction” rather than a must. (Mary Kole has a great post on why publishers prefer to use their own illustrators, just fyi: mainly, because they want to match up a debut author with an established illustrator to sell the book!)
I realize that was quite a mash-up of information – the beauty of a conference! Take it in, think about it, and digest it; then apply it.
Thank you ladies of the San Diego SCBWI for putting on such an AMAZING conference!
I love the idea of revision as reimagining your story. Never thought of it quite like this.ReplyDelete
And voice: letting the reader forget about the author...a fresh and perhaps, clearer perspective of that element as well. They're all great tips. Thanks!
Great conference, Natalie, and so great to meet you in person.ReplyDelete
Sounds like this was an amazing conference. Thanks for sharing some highlights. I'm going to have to bookmark this page because the advice is great.ReplyDelete
Thanks so much for posting about the conference! I love reading the highlights--it's the next best thing to being there. :)ReplyDelete
Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse
Great highlights. Love the tips on revision and what agents are looking for, and that description of voice was pretty clear. Thanks for sharing!ReplyDelete
Great post! I guess it's a good thing that my favorite part of writing is the revising, then, huh? Especially since I do a lot of it. ; ) Great knowing the rest of it, too. I love conferences. They're always filled with wonderful information and they're fun!ReplyDelete
Glad you were able to sit in and take notes for the rest of us. Great tips on revisions. I love the 4 Ps.ReplyDelete
Thank you for such a succinct, and very helpful summary of the presenters' key points. Good things to ponder as we begin our writing week.ReplyDelete
Thanks for sharing the highlights with us! My favorite was Kim Griswell's advice about voice, but I also love the four P's. And, I'm excited to start reimagining my most recent first draft.ReplyDelete
Some great advice! I love the 4 Ps and the highlighting the senses part. I'm in the process of reimagining my WIP, so that part hit home. Thanks for posting this.ReplyDelete
sounds like a great conference. Love the notes. I think I'm coming to understand more and more what it means to revise and what I'm trying to accomplish. Great points.ReplyDelete
Awesome notes! And just in time for my re-envision phase of this WIP. Thank you, Natalie!ReplyDelete
Thanks for being there!ReplyDelete
It was great to meet you.
I enjoyed meeting you Friday evening and appreciated the insight and hilarity you provided during Saturday's panel discussions. When I query you, I promise no flower porn or sex talk. Well, at least no flower porn.ReplyDelete
Thanks for sharing... time to scrounge the house for working markers.ReplyDelete
Thanks for sharing--especially the piece on voice--I have many highlighters! And I can't wait till you come to our conference! <3ReplyDelete
Thanks for sharing this...I especially like (LOVE) Jill's take on revision, literally RE-Visioning!!ReplyDelete
Sounds like a great conference. Loved Chris Richman's P's. So true.ReplyDelete
Flower porn? I'm SO curious now.ReplyDelete
I love conferences. And you're right about voice. It's that undefinable thing that makes each writer unique. But I like the way it was described here -- that it is the sum total of all of the parts that make each writer who she/he is. I'm planning to attend a revision workshop hosted by an editor for Simon & Schuster in early April.
Love, love, love Kim Griswell's quote on voice, and it couldn't be any more true! I'll definitely be snagging that highlighter trick as well.ReplyDelete
Great advice plus flower porn? Looks like I missed out big ;)
Glad it was amazing, and thanks for sharing the recap!
Good and another post from you admin :)ReplyDelete