Stepping into the Deep End

An extreme version of stepping into the deep end.
Photo by ArtHouse Studio on

Last weekend, members of my Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) region met together before the big summer conference in LA. We do this every year before the conference and it is a great way to meet fellow creators from your region. That’s important since my particular region includes both Kansas and Missouri.

Several people in the meeting were new and one woman mentioned combing through the vast amount of information she had received as a new SCBWI member. “I can’t remember it all!”

We assured her that what she is feeling is normal. But I also told her about the class I’m finishing up. I’ve written about taking Madeline Dyer’s Narrative Structure class at WOW! Women on Writing. Before the class started, Madeline and I debated whether this was the right class or if I should start with another.

The reality is that I’m not especially accomplished in long-form fiction. Pfft. Let’s be honest. I’m not accomplished in fiction of any length. I can chat about the mechanics but when it comes to actually writing? Somethings I do especially well – setting is mine! Other things? Not so well at all. My pacing is problematic.

Taking this class has been like stepping into the deep end. Sometimes I’m right there and I truly get it. Other times I’m looking around wondering where the heck I am. What is everyone talking about? But I have learned so much more than I would have learned taking a lower level class.

I feel like I am truly the least adept student, but that’s okay. I took this class so that I’d have a better idea how to rewrite my middle grade science fiction novel. And I have succeeded. I’ve added a subplot which makes the society richer and more complex. My narrative is still linear but found objects of various kinds will be used to add to the tension while helping the reader gain insight into the story.

A lot of what we covered won’t come into play in this particular project but it is definitely going to help me shape other projects, including one I roughed out in class. I likely won’t remember everything I studied, but that’s okay. I’ve got a stack of text books and a file full of lectures. I feel like a brand new member — swamped and loving every moment of it.