Thursday, October 25, 2012

WIK 2012

The WIK 2012 conference for Southern Breeze (SCBWI) was exceptional this year. The writing intensive on Friday before the conference featured Donna Jo Napoli. What a delightful lady she is, so passionate about writing for children. She began the day with a question many people ask her, "How do you do so many things?" Her answer -- "Badly!" -- won my heart.

She talked about writing her first draft very quickly, knowing that it's terrible, but rewarding herself with chocolate at the end of a page, a beer at the end of a chapter, and a bottle of wine at the end of a draft. Then she puts it away--for months. When she comes back to it, she looks for organization. The next step for her is to take it to readers where the goal is to read it aloud. Reading to a classroom or an afterschool program or a library group. She stressed the importance of finding those readers, watching their body language, paying attention to their responses, both verbal and nonverbal.

She delivered a marvelous keynote speech Saturday morning on why she writes about terrible things.

In the first workshop session, I taught a class on the nuts and bolts of publishing. I always determine the success of a class based on whether I had a good time or not. This one was a blast. The room was full of dry-sponge, newbie writers ready to soak up every bit of information they could. Fun!

During the second session, I attended Vicky Alvear Shecter's class on using your nonfiction research to write historical fiction. She did a wonderful job using the research on Cleopatra  into Cleopatra's Moon as examples. Some tips from Vicky that stood out:

Vicky was the Crystal Kite Award Winner for the Southern Region.

  • You need a clear bad guy from the very opening! What specific person has power over that kid that is beyond manageable. If you can’t write about it in the opening, at least hint at it.
  • Make sure it could have happened that way. Be ready to defend the choices you have made. 
  • Never assume on details.
Julie Hamm's (associate editor at Charlesbridge) workshop was a double session after lunch. Charlesbridge publishes 60% nonfiction/40% fiction. Julie read paragraphs from each of the Siebert award winners since 2002 when the award began. We plotted them on a graph from traditional/safe to expressive/edgy. As you might expect, the winners from the last three or four years leaned farther to the expressive/edgy side of the graph. 

Tips from Julie:
  • Read all applicable literature on your subject matter.
  • Revise from multiple perspectives.
  • Highlight each adjective and verb in your piece, then replace any that feel a bit weak and tweak for a sense of immediacy.
  • Hone in on the elements that most excite you. Bring those facts/events to a surprising light.
There were other workshops that I missed with Marietta Zacker, Agent with Nancy Gallt Literary Agency, Leila Sales, associate editor at Viking Children's Books, and Kevin Lewis, author/illustrator and executive editor at Disney/Hyperion. But you can only do what you can do. That's my new motto. 

All in all, it was a wonderful, exhausting weekend!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Dori. This was a really good post to read. I loved the little tidbits of tips you shared. It does sound like a good time!