Monday, September 4, 2017

TAKEAWAYS from SCBWI-CAROLINAS 2017

Congratulations to Connie Saunders who won Sheri Levy's Starting Over ARC.

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Teresa Fannin and Bonnie Adamson, the SCBWI-Carolinas Regional Advisors, co-ordinated another great annual conference. For those of you who were unable to attend, here are some of my takeaways:

From two time Newberry Honor award winner Gary Schmidt's breakout session on Narrator and POV:
  • Make a conscious decision about who your narrator is. If you're stuck, switch POV (even to an inanimate object or animal). Even if you don't use that narrator, your story will be informed by what you discover. 
  • Use long vowels to slow your story down. Short vowels speed things up.
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From my critique of Half-Truths with agent John Cusick (my reactions in red):
  • "Writing is polished and accomplished." (Woohoo!)
  • "Love the family relationships."
  • "Prose is solid, tight, and evocative."
  • "Characterization and dialogue feels a bit generic in places." (Fixable. I have to think harder, dig deeper)
  • Develop Kate's unique POV. (Ditto)
  • Sounds more middle grade than young adult. (I have received this feedback before. Middle grade, here I come.)
John had other suggestions as I go forward. The shift to middle grade will take some switching around in my head and on the page, but as I'm in the middle of another draft this is the time to do it. Since I tend to read middle grade more than young adult, I think that ultimately I'll be happy with this decision.

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From my breakout session on "Wiki's 101": 
  • Be ready to improvise when technology doesn't work the way you expect. Thanks to my gracious attendees who made my moment of "Oops, the LCD isn't projecting the online wikis as I expected," less of a panic situation and more a learning experience. 
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From agent, Jennifer Mattson's breakout, "Putting on the Architect's Hat":


  • There are several different narrative structures besides a straight linear one (Beginning, Middle, End.) The one that most interested me was pastiche. When I read Kathleen Burkinshaw's debut novel, The Last Cherry Blossom, I was intrigued by her use of headlines and snippets from radio broadcasts as part of her chapter headings. In fact, last week I was glued to the microfilm machine at the Charlotte public library searching articles from The Charlotte Observer, Charlotte News, and The Carolina Israelite for that purpose. Since I'm also including free verse and letters in Half-Truths, I'm glad to find a name for this type of novel!

From THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM
Example of a pastiche novel.
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From John Cusick's breakout, "Pacing- What to Cut. What to Keep and What Order to Put it In":
  • Physical description must reveal character.
  • Character should be revealed through ACTION. Not a decision to act.
  • Cut rhetorical questions.
  • "Start as close to the end as possible." Kurt Vonnegut.
  • Open with scene, not summary. 
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From the bookstore:
5 grandchildren = going a little crazy in the conference bookstore!
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From the first pages session:
  • Be careful of inner monologue that's not authentic.
  • Hook your reader with emotion first.
  • If you're writing historical fiction, make sure there is a good reason for placing it in the past. 
  • Be in the moment with your characters and scenes.
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And last, but certainly not least, from my friend Donna Earnhardt:

"You are tackling a story that is not easy, yet you've made the effort to get feedback that was probably not easy to hear... and still, you keep on going. I am so proud of you and I think that you should be proud of yourself, too. Your tenacity encourages me to keep on keeping on - even when it's hard."
I confess to fighting discouragement over how long it has taken to complete Half-Truths. But Donna looks at my journey and sees perseverance. Which goes to show that often--in life and in books--there are two points of view. 

25 comments:

sheri levy said...

Great summary! I wish I could have been there! Thanks fo sharing these tips-

Betty Pfeiffer said...

I'm going to take copies of this to my writing critique group Friday. While not everything will be pertinent to all, there is a nugget here, a nugget there, that will strike a chord with someone. Thanks for sharing.

jilannehoffmann.com said...

THanks for the tips! Please to see that you got such great feedback on Half Truths. With respect to MG, I'm thinking that you're writing what you like to read. Cheers!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks Sheri, Betty, and Jilanne. I am honored, Betty, that you are sharing it with your writing group. And yes, Jilanne, I think you're right about MG.

Donna Earnhardt said...

You got some GREAT feedback on your story! YES! (PROUD OF YOU!)

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Donna. You are sweetness personified!

Clara Gillow Clark said...

Thanks for sharing writing tips from the conference, Carol. Especially loved hearing the positive feedback you got from the conference about your w-i-p from John Cusack and also Donna Earnhardt. You are an inspiration.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Clara. And Kathy Wiechman is my inspiration! ISn't that what the writing community does--inspire one another?

Barbara O'Connor said...

Great summary!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Barbara!

Cynthia Surrisi said...

Thanks for this, it filled in some of the bits I missed!

Carol Baldwin said...

You're welcome, Cynthia. Thanks for stopping by.

Sandra Warren said...

It's interesting to see what you took from the conference, especially from those workshops I missed.

Thanks also for sharing your takeaways and your Half Truth's journey.

Great job as usual.

Sandra

Joan Y. Edwards said...

Dear Carol,
Thanks for sharing. I'm so proud of all your hard work on Half Truths. I enjoyed your session at the conference on Wikis. Do something fun to celebrate you!

Never Give Up
Joan

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks Sandra and Joan--your support means a lot to me!

Cat Michaels said...

Carol, it sounds as if you had a great conference! Wish I. could've been there, too. Thanks for sharing your notes.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Cat. Hope you can make it next year!

Laura Boffa said...

Thanks for sharing this! Always great to get some new information and fresh encouragement.

Carol Baldwin said...

Glad you enjoyed the post, Laura. Thanks for stopping by.

BonnieA said...

I sooo enjoyed your takeaways, Carol--I don't usually get to sit in on sessions, so it's great to see the tips you found valuable.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Bonnie. I'm glad you profited from them...it's a shame that you're too busy to absorb all the richness!

Linda Ashman said...

Thanks for the summary, Carol. So nice to see you there!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Linda. It was nice to see you too!

Kathleen said...

Carol, a terrific summary and I'm so excited about your critique comments for HALF TRUTHS! And thank you for sharing TLCB as pastiche novel(and now I know what a pastiche novel is). I'm touched that my chapter headings inspired you. So great to see you and finally get a picture with you :)

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks and you are welcome, Kathleen! You inspire me!