Tuesday’s Tips: Best of a Writer’s Conference

ImageSo I thought I’d share what I remembered the best of the tips from Springmingle 2013, the Southern Breeze sponsored SCBWI conference where I chilled at the bar and chatted networked and studied the craft of children’s writing this past weekend.

Now, honestly, I’m not the best when it comes to taking notes. I have great intentions, and I listen really, really hard. But after five minutes a half hour, my brain tends to wander. I soldiered on, though, scribbling away as fast as my fingers could go, so that the Beneficent Mr. Hall wouldn’t complain about the money I’d spent I would become the best writer I could possibly be. On to the tips.

1. From wonderful poet/authoress Nikki Grimes, I learned the value of patience in writing. Sadly, there is a truth out there for many of us. Namely, that we want it all. We want it now. But classic writing takes time. (So fine. I’ll give it another month or two couple of years.)

2. From Dianne Hess, Editor, Scholastic Books, I learned that non-fiction in children’s writing is getting bigger every day because of the Common Core State Standards. If you like research, and can get your facts straight, you can give kids a better understanding of the world through great non-fiction.

3. From super agent, Jill Corcoran, I learned that before you write a word of your manuscript, you’d better look long and hard at your concept. Brainstorm the concept and the pitch. Because the best writing in the world won’t sell a been-there, done-that concept. But a superlative concept can sell so-so writing. (You know what? Just read her blog. Everything you need to know about writing–and didn’t even think to ask–is there.)

4. From Katherine Jacobs, Editor at Roaring Book Press, I learned that if you’re struggling to write a basic paragraph that tells what your book is about (ie. something that could be used as the back flap copy on a book), then your book might be unfocused. (I’m just going to jump to the chase here and say there’s no “might” be. It is. I speak from the depths of utter gloom and abject failure experience.)

So there you have it. Four really great tips from a great conference. And you didn’t even have to choke down the chicken.

13 thoughts on “Tuesday’s Tips: Best of a Writer’s Conference

  1. OMG. Imagine those letters about 6 inches high.

    I am soooo jealous. Nikki Grimes was there? Did you genuflect when you saw her? Did you kiss her ring? Did you slobber at her feet, and let her know that some of that saliva had been sent from Sioux?


  2. Those are great tips. It’s the truth about Common Core. By high school the class reading will be 70% nonfiction and 30% fiction. Even in the lower grades, such as 5th, it’s 50% nonfiction and 50% fiction. So the nonfiction door is W-I-D-E open right now.

    • Suzanne, I know several writers who’ve switched to non-fiction and found success. But I’m not so sure I would make it in that field. Apparently, educators take a dim view of just making things up when you don’t know the answer. 😉

  3. Oh, I KNOW, Madeline. It feels like I’ve put in a lifetime into some manuscripts. But then, all the hours in the world can’t fix a so-so concept or unfocused story. Pffft.

    ( I’ve read your stories–very focused. Something tells me you’re hurrying along!)

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