Sunday, June 21, 2009

Linda Zuckerman at the SCBWI Picnic

Dawn Prochovnic was the person who put together this amazing SCBWI Picnic Program.

She and Ellen Dodson started out by talking about the importance of critique groups and how to get "hooked-in" with other writers and become a part of the writing community.


After explaining the importance of being involved with other like-minded people, Dawn introduced Linda to the nearly sold-out audience.

This was actually a free event put on by the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). We wanna-be writers had an amazing opportunity to network, listen to Linda Zuckerman and then party at an in-door picnic.

Linda is also involved with the Annual Pacific Northwest Children's Book Conference, sponsored by PSU and started out by talking about the difficult economy and explaining that a debut book only has about 6 months to succeed or it will be swallowed up . . . into the black hole of nothing.

She said that writers should start each book by writing with a character in mind – not an idea. And don’t try to write a best seller to gets lots of money. Instead write your story. Don’t try to write for trends.

For example, don’t think “bears are the new dinosaurs” and then try to tell a story with bears in the book.

People might think fiction is easy to write but Linda explained that fiction requires an intelligent design. Every writer needs to get inside their characters.

She recommended asking yourself a couple of questions while you write:

1) What does the character want? Or, in other words,
2) What is the goal that the character is striving to reach?

When you know what the character's goal is, remember you will need to throw obstacles in the way. But in the end the main character must resolve the conflict him or herself and hopefully grow and change along the way.

She also explained that there are two plots to every story:

1) Action plot – such as a girl has to babysit her brother;
2) Emotional plot – The girl thinks her father hates her but loves the little brother she has to watch.

And these two plot lines must work together to create the story.

The part of the picnic I enjoyed the most was when she read first pages and gave some direct feedback. It was a wonderful way to spend a Saturday.

Linda Zuckerman finished up her talk by promoting the SCBWI. She said the organization provides opportunities to connect with other writers while providing priceless information.

6 comments:

Bish Denham said...

Some wonderful bits of information. Long ago I was given this little fill-in-the-blank sentence to use to figure out just what the heck a story is about.

"This is the story of (name of character) who wants more than anything to (problem to solve) but (conflict/antagonist) stands in the way.

Rena said...

Sounds like a great time and thanks for sharing her tips. I guess I better get to work with Dilly so he doesn't fall into that black hole of nothing -- eeek.

Congratulations, Kim! You're one of the winners of my contest!

Kim Kasch said...

Bish: Thanks for that blank sentence. It is perfect.

Rena: Thanks for making me a winner.

Amy Tate said...

You know, I thought about that when I shopped the book sale this weekend. There were hundreds of books all facing spine out. Unless there is a good marketing plan, the black hole is inevitable!

Christina Farley said...

Such great notes. Thanks for sharing. I think the plot and emotional arc of the story are both so important and its good to be reminded of.

Kelly said...

SCBWI offers such great events!
Sounds like a wonderful way to spend a Saturday! Thanks for sharing the info!