Book Reviews, Writing Advice

SCBWI -BI Conference 2011

I am dreaming story ideas. My head is buzzing. My fingers are twitching to type. The  SCBWI Winchester Conference has struck again.

Candy with the much deserved Crystal kite Award. Am sure my vote helped ;o)

This year was a little tricky for me. I had some issues to deal with at home that were made it a struggle to focus so I must apologise if  you were disturbed by the  curiously subdued,  irritating woman who kept disappearing out of the lecture theatre – I wasn’t having bladder problems my children were on the phone. In the end I went home for a bit so I missed the party on Saturday night and Candy Gourlay winning, not only the Crystal Kite Award  but also the Award for Outstanding Contribution to SCBWI so massive belated HOORAH for Candy x

Home dramas aside, the weekend was, as ever, immensely informative and inspiring. For those that couldn’t make it, here’s a flavour of that:

From Frank Cottrell Boyce:

Keep your eye on the detail, that’s where humour lies. Comedy comes from the dissonance between who kids see themselves as and who they actually are – think Just William – he sees himself as a good guy!

It's the little things that make people laugh.











From Anthony Mcgowan: Writing guidelines can sometimes help you  unstick a plot – take a look at this:

Or if you can’t use a power point, this:

Freytag's Pyramid. Sort of.

Ask yourself four questions:

Who is your main character?

What are they trying to achieve?

Who’s trying to stop them?

What happen’s if they don’t achieve their goal?

If you can’t answer these questions maybe you haven’t yet got a fully formed story.

Try messing with the structure – different points of view, tense, chronology – shake things up and see if your story shakes up to.

Anthony’s workshop was CRAMMED with good stuff. I think he need’s to write a ‘How to’ Book – seek him out and tell him:

Sara Grant - author of Dark Parties | autor von NEVAFrom Sara Grant who talked series fiction – again, two hours packed with stimulating ideas impossible to sum up here. Briefly helpful might be her word count guide for Working Partners:

Age Range Word Count Number Chapters Things to consider Examples
5-8 4-5000 words 6-8 even chapters Simple characters, simple setting (they’ll be illustrated) Naughtiest puppy, Rainbow Magic
7-9 10-15,000 words 10-12 even chapters Again, simple characters, formulaic plots Beast Quest, Dinosaur Cover
Tween 15-30,000 words 15-20 chapters Characters more 3 d , more complex story lines
YA 40,000+ 20+ chapters As above

Sara suggested writing your pitch, or even your strap line, before you write your series story – it will give a good indication whether your idea is a strong one. Find your formula – what are you going to give a reader everytime?

I left Sara’s workshop with an idea how to improve my Dylan and Mouse books  and ideas for 2 more series- not including the amazing CSI Mars Alien Brain mystery we brainstormed while we were there.

From the Friday night critique group to the parting hugs on Sunday, I felt supported and educated and part of our SCBWI family. A pretty big one these days. If you write or ilustrate for children, you’ll belong too.

SCBWI British Isles - Supporting Published and Unpublished Writers and Illustrators of Children's Books