SCBWI-L.A. hosted the annual Writers’ Days last March 22-23, 2014.
It’s been a whole month since then, but I thought I’d share my wonderful experience nonetheless.
The Writers’ Days faculty was composed of some amazing folks:
Editor Heidi Fiedler
2 Literary Agents,
Literary Agent Danielle Smith of Reed Literary
Literary Agent Jennifer Rofe of Andrea Brown Literary
4 Amazing Novelists:
Novelist and Flintridge Bookstore Proprietor Catherine Linka,
Novelist and Social Media Guru Greg Pincus,
Newbery Medal winner Katherine Applegate,
And Plot Whisperer Martha Alderson
Saturday was all about amazing keynotes and useful writing exercises. Here are some of the gems I picked up from each speaker:
Katherine Applegate: Frog and Toad at the Hunger Games: 10 Rules for Genre-Jumping and Career-Building from a Seasoned Hack
Ignore all the rules.
Fall seven times and stand up eight.
Writing is a job like any job.
Know why you’re a writer.
Learn by doing.
Catherine Linka: What Every Writer Needs to Know About Retail Book Buying Today
Be polite, professional and personable.
Some of the questions book buyers ask before buying a book:
Do I know the writer and like his/her book?
Am I intrigued by the book cover on Edelweiss?
Does the story seem fresh and new?
Is there industry buzz?
Is the author local and would he/she do events?
Some of the things that may make booksellers reject a book:
The book is not right for their customer base.
They can’t figure out who the customer/audience is.
The book’s cover is awful, or the book’s premise is too complicated to hand-sell.
Heidi Fiedler: Book Mapping Like an Editor
When mapping out a book, consider: the Main Character, Primary Storyline, Secondary Storyline and Theme.
Create a mind map when brainstorming your book.
**Note: I missed a big chunk of Heidi’s lecture as I was busy volunteering, so these notes don’t really do her justice.**
Danielle Smith: Crisscross Applesauce and why Your Story is Worth Telling: Defining Success From an Agent’s Point of View
Make every word count.
Verbosity is not your friend.
Work well with others. It’s unprofessional to talk about things publicly, especially on social media.
Everybody in the chain (authors, agents, editors) gets rejection.
Be true to yourself.
Like what you do.
Martha Alderson: Plot Session
To find your book’s thematic statement, have your critique partners/other readers read your book, then ask them what they think it’s really about.
Make sure to establish the protagonist’s flaw on page 1. Show what he/she is unable to do.
The true story doesn’t start until the end of the story’s Beginning.
In the exotic world of the middle, the protagonist is not in control. The antagonist, instead, is in control, setting the rules and defining what’st right and wrong.
The antagonist has his own plotline. He is trying to accomplish something and this gets him in the way of the protagonist.
Aside from the conference keynotes,there was also a First Pages Panel.
Faculty members were given random first pages from the manuscript submissions and were given a couple of minutes to share their insights about the pieces. They shared what worked in the first page they read, and what aspects of the story still needed work.
Throughout the day, Greg Pincus gave 15 minute Social media consultations to some members while Martha Alderson handled 15 minute plot consultations.
At the end of the day, I was on hand once again to give out certificates to the winners of the Writer’s Day Contest.
Photo by Rita Crayon-Huang
After the conference ended, some faculty members did a bit of book signing:
Writer’s Day was a blast as usual. And although I wasn’t able to attend the Sunday Intensives, I hear it was jam-packed with helpful and inspiring sessions as well.
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