Monday, June 15, 2009

WIFYR Conference Update 2

What a week. I can't believe how fast it went, and am grateful for the new friendships made and the new things learned. This is one the best conferences I've attended and the most fun.

Alane Ferguson was definitely a daily highlight. She kept me laughing in her class, while showing how to critique manuscripts well. Learning from her was more like an osmotic-process than a bottling process, if that makes any sense. Here are a few Lanie-isms that I enjoyed walking away with:

"That is absolutely one of the unbreakable rules, except for the fact that it will be broken next week."

"My curtains are always closed, because I know there are people like me out there."

"Does he glitter? I get a lot of gratification when people glitter."

"I'm the rebel, but I'm also so compliant."

"That is brillance in action, people."

"I'm giving you the Lanie Guarentee. Editors will love this."

............ I can only hope!

I also attended break-out sessions. Here are a few words of wisdom.

"Sometimes what your characters don't say reveals more than what they do." -- Ann Dee Ellis (Everything is Fine)

Mette Harrison (The Princess and the Hound) wasn't there, but she was quoted. "Clarity first. Pretty words second."

"Does each scene move the plot forward? Does each scene deal with internal/external conflict?" -- Ann Cannon (The Loser's Guide to Life and Love)

I took a few notes during Krista Marino's address. Krista is an editor with Delacorte. She highlighted 4 books from her list and discussed why she had chosen them. They were:

The Witch's Alphabet by Caitlin Kitteridge (Feb 2010). A "steam-punk novel described by her as A Great and Terrible Beauty meets The Golden Compass, which was the original steam-punk novel.

The Owl Keeper by Christine Brodien Jones. Described as The Penderwicks, as perceived by Tim Burton.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner. Described as The Lord of the Flies meets The Hunger Games.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth, which is a love story with a zombie threat, described as 28 Days Later meets The Hand-Maids Tale.

The best part of the conference was the send-off extravaganza, in which Carol Lynch Williams and Cheri Pray Earl danced and sang and Will Terry showed the story of The Little Red Toyota. I have pictures, and as soon as I get them downloaded, I will add them here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

WFYR Conference Update

I'm down at the Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers conference this week at BYU. Well, actually I'm driving back and forth 2 hours each way every day (long story, equally long commute) except for today, because I'm getting kids off to their 4 day soccer tournament in Cedar City and meeting with tape-measure-and-hammer people about the house remodel that is about to whip up in a flurry around us.

I'll have to remember to take pictures tomorrow. A camera being toted around in purse does not take pictures by itself.

I'm in the morning workshops being led by Alane Ferguson, who is absolutely amazing. Her knack for editorial insight and guidance has blown me away. Here are a few nuggets.

Don't underestimate dialogue. Good dialogue will move a plot forward more than narrative.

In addition to having a good hook on page 1, tap into a Universal by page 2. A universal is that element that everyone on the planet can relate to: need to belong, fear of abandonment, fear of failure, a curiosity in wondering how a character will use his/her power to get what he/she wants, etc.

At the end of the story, the conflict must be resolved (of course), but there must always be a cost for the character in getting that resolution.

Be mindful of "burying the lead." This means, put the emotional hook, the conflict, the important stuff up front. Don't let it be muddled in an otherwise beautiful, well-written narrative, assuming the reader will "get it."

Claudia Mills was thoroughly entertaining. She suggested a few books for inspiration in the craft. Two of them are If You Want to Write by Brenda Velan and The Creative Habit by Twyla Thorpe.

Lael Littke, the bionic woman with titanium knees (my mouth literally dropped to the floor when she told us of her recent surgery!), also stressed the importance of adding that emotional conflict to the main conflict. This gets the reader connected to the character. And, of course, there has to be an event that forces the character to take a different direction.

Make it great day!