Monday, January 31, 2011

SCBWI Miami- Revision by Arianne Lewin

Can I just say that the moment Arianne Lewin, executive editor at Putnam, started speaking at the SCBWI Miami conference I decided she was brilliant?

Not only is she down to earth and funny, but she has heaps of knowledge to share in an easygoing, natural way. She has also edited an incredible line of books including authors Cinda Williams Chima, Whoopi Goldberg, Laura Numeroff, and Julia Ann Peters.

So enough of me chattering away!

Here are some of the notes that I furiously typed down:

• Writing is revising!

• Think large-scale-big-picture revision first and then whittle down to the minor stuff

• Her job is not to take over a book but to make the best out of it

• A full revision would take about 8 hours

• If a book needs a big overhaul, she needs to make sure she thinks she can get out of the author what needs to be done

• Important things: voice, theme, quality, and good concept

• She can help you with the plot if you have a good voice, but can’t fix bad writing

• She likes to talk to writers before she acquires a book; she also has to show the author that she understands what the author is trying to do

• She’ll read a book two times before she begins editorial notes; she uses ‘track changes’- and then puts together an editorial letter (average 7 pages)

• She usually doesn’t read pitches

• Look for agents that are like minded to your work

• Keep in mind that a million editors will edit a manuscript a million different ways

How to Self Revised

- The experience of a book is more engaging than recapping it in narrative summary

- Scene is more engaging- take your readers right there participating in it, believing it

- Real time and watching the events unfold- gains the reader’s trust

- You want the reader to be put into the action and drawn into the story

- Showing something in scene allows you to make it deeply personal

- Trust the reader; let the reader draw their own conclusions

- Make sure your beginning doesn’t start too soon- you shouldn’t just jump into the portal but build that anticipation and characters

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My SCBWI Miami Intensive

Wow. SCBWI Miami was amazing. So amazing that after coming home I went straight to my computer and did a big push on my revisions.

The intensive I took featured agent Erin Murphy, author and writing coach Joyce Sweeney, and executive editor Krista Marino. They were amazing.

If you ever have the opportunity to take a workshop with any of these three- DO IT!

So here are a couple of gems that I picked up from the day:

What is your writing life like? Erin Murphy

1. What would my ideal writing life be like?

2. What are the obstacles that come in the way between my goals that ideal?

3. Am I over-disciplined or under-disciplined?

4. Think about tools that can help me- turn off internet, timer, turn off my screen when reading manuscripts

5. What are my strengths and resources I have as a writer?

Building a Scene- Joyce Sweeney

• If you can’t justify a scene, get rid of it

• Orientate your reader- promise the reader of what is to come

• Don’t describe a high school cafeteria!

• Capture the voice and attitude of the main character

• Be as entertaining and energetic as possible

• Bring in layers with the character (use flashbacks)

• The climax of the story is when someone won and someone lost

Voice- Krista Marino, Executive Editor

Elements that contribute to voice:

1. Diction- speaker’s vocabulary, choices and expression

  • Doesn’t mean using teen speak or slang or brand names- words you choose and level of formality- ways things are described
  • Limited experience of the world and that impacts the way they use words and communicate
  • Teens don’t make the decision they make because they are dumb. It’s because they don’t have enough experiences or life lived
2. Characterization- age, social status, cultural background- all things that make up a character. Know this!

3. Dialogue- Verbal exchange between 2 or more characters; interior or inner dialogue

  • YA is the teen experience
  • Internal monologue- shows what they are thinking and often the complete opposite of what they are thinking

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

SCBWI Miami Here I Come!

Yep. That's right! I'm off to Miami tomorrow after school for a weekend of writing bliss. I'm attending the SCBWI Miami conference. So excited! I even got my "ballgown" (Target special, but don't tell) for the Dragon Slayer's Ball. Everyone is dressing up as fairy tale characters. I've decided to be Isobel from Mistwood (love that book). I'm such a book geek.

On Friday I'm taking the Novel Writing Intensive with author Joyce Sweeney, agent Erin Murphy, and editor Krista Marino.

Jealous yet?

Then on Saturday, I have a manuscript critique from Cinda Williams Chima. Squee!

I promise to blog about it all when I get back. Let me know if there's anything you're especially interested in hearing about.

Gotta go and finish up packing.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Slow It Down!

So I have a confession to make. I like to write FAST. Yep, I'm a fast drafter. Sit down and type everything in one swift motion. I suppose it goes back to the fact that if I had to choose between walking everywhere or running I would definitely choose running.

I absolutely love to run. I can get where I want to go in half the time. Think of all the things you could get accomplished if you ran everywhere!

But many of you would say, walking allows you to see the details in life. The little things that make the world special. 

You're right of course, even if it's hard to let go of that feeling of the wind in my face and the runner's rush. Besides, my boss wouldn't look too fondly on me running through the halls with my students in tow.  (Confession: my students do scamper behind my clipped pace through the hallways)

I'm happy to sit at the computer and not worry over the five million mistakes I'm making, those huge plot holes, or all of my character's inconsistencies. You could say I'm the perfect fast drafter.

And I bet you can guess that I'm not the perfect reviser. I'm trying though and thanks to my critique partners who keep saying, "Dig deeper!" "You have grammar and spelling errors!" and "Plot hole!", I'm realizing how to become a better reviser. They even offered to read the whole book again after I revised it. Now that's pure dedication. (I heart my crit buds.) 

So I'm slowing things down. I don't have to finish the novel in exactly 42 days. And it's okay if I have to rewrite a scene (36 times). I've also found that when I take things slower I'm noticing those missing words or odd phrasing. My latest novel is reaching a whole new level because of those details.

If you're like me, make yourself some agreements:
  • Promise to not go fast drafting a new project until you know your current book is as good as you can possibly get it to be
  • Give your book long breaks and then pick it up and revise it some more
  • Listen to your brilliant critique partners (if you don't have any, get some!)
  • Learn to see your story through the eyes of others

And you can only do all of that if you slow it down.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Another Year

It's a little shocking when I look and see when I last posted. Eek! But this past month has been such a good one and I've had so many wonderful moments this holiday with my family. It's been a very long time (10 years!) that we've been in the States near family for the whole holiday season. So I really took advantage spending those precious moments with them.

But whenever I'm away from blogging, I realize how out of touch I feel with the writing world! Blogging keeps me connected and I suppose that is one of my main reasons for keeping up with this blog. Sure I've got lots to say (hey, I'm a writer!) but I really enjoy visiting your blogs too!

As far as writing, I've been working hard and I'm totally pumped over my latest round of revisions. My WIP is looking all shiny and pretty. I suppose you can also blame my WIP for keeping me from Blogger Land. 

And as far as my goals for this year:
1. Attend two writing conferences (I go to the SCBWI Miami conference in 2 weeks!) and work on my craft
2. Submit my latest WIP
3. Write a new book (I'm dying to start but I told myself NO until this WIP is as perfect as I can make it)
4. Find ways to juggle full time work, full time mom and writing
5. Read! 

What about you? What are your goals for this year?

Photo by Melinda Nagy