With Leap Day, You Get Extra: Editor Kristin Daly Rens

Leap days are extra, so I thought it’d be swell to give you an extra bit of wisdom from Kristin Daly Rens (senior editor from Balzer & Bray/Harper Collins) who spoke at the conference. Plus, I had a pic of her with Cathy-on-a-Stick and that’s always a bonus, right?

So Kristin (who is funny, delightful, smart, and charming and I’m not just saying that because she happened to do my formal critique) spoke about dialogue and plotting. But (and I’m sure this will come as no surprise to you) I cannot find my plot notes. So we’ll be sharing dialogue notes today.

She had a ton of great tips about dialogue, and examples of sparkling banter in books. Um, apparently, I did not write down the book titles. But Debra Mayhew, who sat next to me, wrote down every single book mentioned and then she shared them on her blog. (Why thank you, Deb!).

So now, let’s dash to Kristin’s tips, starting with what to avoid in dialogue.

AVOID SAYING SOMETHING YOU’VE JUST SHOWN. (Yes, I know that seems like common sense. But it’s a terribly common problem and one you should check for when editing your manuscript. Because…

TOO MUCH DIALOGUE SLOWS DOWN THE STORY (Who knew? I LOVE dialogue. In fact, I tend to read the dialogue in books and skip all that descriptive stuff. But it occurred to me that I can do that because I read good books where the dialogue is used correctly. How so, you wonder? So glad you asked.

DIALOGUE SHOULD BE SIGNIFICANT  (Every word of dialogue should matter to the story. Every. Single. Word. Yes, you want to be authentic, but not so authentic that you bore your readers. So don’t put in all those umm’s and uh’s. Put in the words that matter and most importantly…

PUT IN THE WORDS THAT MOVE THE STORY FORWARD  (That tip speaks for itself, doesn’t it? Get it? Speaks for itself? Um, yeah…we’ll just move on. Like your story should do with great dialogue.)

Because now I think you have enough dialogue information to make your own banter extra sparkly. And you’ve got an extra day to do it!

Finding SCBWI Southern Breeze’s Newsletter

If you haven’t become an SCBWI member yet, maybe the latest newsletter from my region, Southern Breeze, will spur you on!

The newsletter’s online now, so it’s easily accessible right here. What makes this particular newsletter a keeper is all the information, not to mention registration form, for the fall conference in Birmingham. I can’t believe the great line-up scheduled for this event-and I don’t know how I’m going to cram everything in that I’d like to do.

But where there’s a will, there’s a way. And thank goodness, I know the way to Birmingham! Join me there in October. (But first, go finish reading the newsletter. And read al-l-l-l the way to the end. Because that’s where you’ll find my article, “While You Are Waiting”!)

Finding the Kidlitosphere Conference

conferenceIf you’re big on blogging about children’s literature, you’ll want to attend the Kidlitosphere Conference in Washington this October 17th.

But you know what? Even if you’re not a blogger, this conference might be perfect for you. Because it may give you that push you need to start a blog. It will definitely address any questions you might have, and inspire you along the way.

Look at some of these conference offerings: Building a Better Blog, Social Networking for Fun (and Profit?), and Coming Together, Giving Back.

It’s just one day, and it’s just $100. It’s in Washington, which might be very convenient if you live around Washington. Um, maybe not so convenient if you don’t.

Still, if you’re planning on taking a little trip, a one-day conference may fit in nicely. And hey, you can blog all about it!