I attended a writing conference this past weekend. Here are some quotes, tips and techniques I feel anyone any age may appreciate:
Caldecott winner author-illustrator David Wiesner:
(quoting someone’s name I didn’t get – - sorry!)
“Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work . . . All of the best ideas come out of the process. Something will occur to you, and then another thing will occur to you . . .”
Agent Josh Adams made some distinctions between award winners and bestsellers. (Some of them fall into the same categories.)
Award Winning Books: beautifully crafted, indelible voice, lingers in your memory, creates emotional connections, are life-changing
The White Darkness, Bad News for Outlaws, and Rules are some titles that fit in this category.
Best Selling Books: high concept, thought-provoking, page-turning, suspenseful, a fun read
Charlie Bone and the Red Knight, Sabotaged, and Kiss are high concept sellers.
Author Alexandria LaFaye
If you have a better access to your subconscious, you are a better writer.
(See! Me here. What do I keep telling you about dreams and using the moments as you wake from sleep?)
Triple D: Every time you use a detail it needs to develop setting, character and plot.
Center ourselves in the world our characters inhabit. Our characters should have a distinctive world view. It should sound if they are describing their world. Not us describing it. Figure out how to explain things from the view of the main character. The character talks about it in relationship to what else is going on in his life.
Characters can only draw figurative language from their own personal experience.
How can you write more metaphors and figurative language in your writing? Read poetry. Good poets she suggested were Nancy Willard, Cynthia Rylant, Gary Soto, Pat Mora, Janet Wong. Poets who write adult poetry: Gary Snyder, Louise Glook, Emily Dickenson, Sylvia Plath.
Poetry is about what’s not on the page.
Newbery Honor Winner Cynthia Lord’s words were so powerful the audience gave her a standing ovation and many of us had tears in her eyes when she talked about the story behind the story of Rules.
What happens when you write a book based on your life?
What should you write about?
Write a book on challenging personal experiences. She said that every message in the book, Rules, is a message for her.
What to consider as you write your book:
- What do I owe the other people whose lives are also tied up in this moment? (Minimize the impact on their lives.)
- Am I willing to “go there” on schedule? And for years?
- Am I ready to be honest?
- Any important moment will have a contrasting emotion in it.
- Write what you know.
- If you don’t know, ask yourself, when have I ever felt the same way as that character?
- Details don’t have to match, just the feelings. To help herself remember, she surrounded herself with objects from that town and she saw her handwriting from that time.
Description: Write what you know through settings and objects using your senses. Set places where you can visit. Go and see real things. What does the air feel like?
***What surprises you? This question is gold in the description.
She acted out a scene in rules where the main character pushes a boy in a wheelchair in a parking lot. She pushed her suitcase in a parking lot.! Lord realized there’d be pinecones, holes, cracks, etc and this made her write with more depth.
Find the one feeling of the story and everything revolves around this feeling.