There's nothing like a conference to inspire your writing! Last Saturday I attended the Packaging Your Imagination conference held by the Canadian Society for Authors, Illustrators and Performers. Not only did I get to see my super-amazing MiG Writer friend, Debbie Ridpath Ohi, I met lots of other aspiring writers, illustrators and reconnected with a writer/puppeteer I met last year. I also got to soak in so much writerly wisdom it will take weeks for me to absorb it all. Some tidbits:
Details: How Little Things Bring Your Writing to Life
Erin Bow, author of Plain Kate and Sorrow's Knot reminded us: "Good details are the heart of good storytelling."
I loved all her strategies for using details to draw the reader's attention to what is important in the story. You can read about how she uses a ladder system to match the level of detail to the emotional intensity of a scene in an interview with Erin for the CANSCAIP blog.
After this session, I decided to add another level to my revision process!
Arc is a Four-Letter Word: Plot Structure for the Architecturally Challenged
Lesley Livingston, author of the Wondrous Strange series, the Never series, and the Starling saga provided another perspective on plotting and how it really all stems from character and setting.
"Make your setting a character. Use that to drive your story and your character's journey through your story."
She highly recommends drawing a map and finding interesting places in your story world to build into the plot.
This was a refreshing approach for many of us who feel overwhelmed by all the pointy triangles in traditional plotting diagrams.
Whose Voice Is It, Anyway?
According to Shelley Tanaka, long time fiction editor of Groundwood Books, one of the biggest distractions when reading children's book submissions is when the narrator steps out of the child's voice. An important question to ask is: "Would a child say or think this?"
She pointed out that adults are often more sentimental than children are and that's one way the adult perspective can intrude into the child's voice.
"Good writing is not random: It involves artistic decisions, big and small, and the decisions you make about voice may be the most important of all."
Lightning Rods, Agents & Book Deals: Building Your Personal Brand
Though I didn't get to attend this session with my writing buddy Debbie Ridpath Ohi, I heard it was very useful! You can catch some of the details on the CANSCAIP blog. Debbie is the illustrator of I'm Bored, Naked! and the author-illustrator of the forthcoming, Where Are My Books? She has also posted her take on the Packaging Your Imagination conference with lots of visuals.
Keynote: Confessions of a Word Nerd
It was so much fun to laugh along with Susin Nielsen, author of the forthcoming We Are All Made of Molecules as well as Word Nerd, Dear George Clooney: Please Marry My Mom and The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen.
She talked about loving reading, emotional memories and perseverance.
"Everything we write, it only makes us better."