One Writer’s Journey

November 11, 2013

Conference Notes

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:55 am
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On November 6th, I attended the Missouri SCBWI fall conference.  As always, there was a top notch cast of speakers.  Here are a few of my impressions.

It may surprise you to know that the most inspirational speaker for me was the illustrator, Dan Santat.  Throughout his presentation, he showed slides including some of his work.  By the time his talk was over, I had jotted down 6 new picture book ideas.  Although it isn’t his first book, he considers “Oh no!, or, How my science project destroyed the world” his breakout book, the one that he really devoted himself to creating.  It seems that even well-published authors and illustrators take some time to decide that this is what they want to commit their time and energy to doing.

Above all else, Dan encouraged us to follow our passion.

Matt de la Pena gave an excellent presentation on dialogue.  The first thing that he had each of us do was look back on our life and summarize it in two words.  Mine?  Stories Told.  Why? Because I come from a strong story telling tradition.  Family get togethers meant listening to uncles and grandparents telling stories about way back when.  Some of them were more factual than others, thus my two words have a double meaning.  Matt pointed out that when he does this exercise with teens, he always gives them a positive example and a negative example yet 98% of their own summaries are negative.

In teaching us about dialogue, Matt emphasized that it needs to move the story and not just supply information from the author to the reader.  Internal dialogue should always surprise the reader or it needs to be cut.  For example, if your character has just broken up with his girlfriend, don’t write he wondered why she hadn’t wanted him. We expect that.  If you don’t have anything more to reveal, don’t write it out.

That’s just a wee bit of what we touched on throughout the day.  Mostly I came away from this event inspired and ready to write.  So . . . back to my writing!



look back on life and what see in two words  Stories Told.  gives high schoolers positive and negative 98% negative

interior dialogue/thought must be surprising or cut



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