Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Opinions Wanted

If You Could Make a List . . .

I’m planning a couple of training events for picture book writers. Before I launch into what I think people would like to learn about, I decided I’d ask picture book writers to tell me what they’d like to learn. If you were asked what you wanted to learn in a picture book track, what would you include on your list? Do you want to know about idea generation? Planning? Plotting? Writing craft? Character development? Voice? Rhythm, rhyme, and meter? Revision? Dummies, mock-ups, and formatting? Or some other writing craft or component of the writing process?

How do you like to learn? Would you want to look at exemplar picture books that could model successful writing techniques? Would you want to experience hands-on writing activities? Would you want to apply what you learn to your own writing? Would you like to work with a partner or a small group of writers from time to time during the event?

What would you write on your list of “what I want to learn about picture
books?” Add your thoughts as a comment below. Not only will your ideas help me
plan content for upcoming writing training events, they will also inspire future blog


Sunday, March 22, 2015

One Liners that Inspire

An Afternoon with Greg Neri

Greg Neri has written award-winning YA and MG novels, graphic novels, and picture books on subjects from black urban cowboys to surfers on the lam to Johnny Cash. What these genre-busting books have in common is that they were all inspired by real-life events that grabbed the author out of the blue and inspired a new story.

Tampa Bay area members of SCBWI Florida had the opportunity to hear Greg speak yesterday. As I listened, I found myself jotting down sentence after sentence that seemed to represent Greg’s approach to, and philosophy about, writing. Below are some of his one-liners about finding inspiration (and following it) and growing a writing career that is vibrant and unique.

r Be like a boy scout—always be prepared.

r Be ready to roll with the punches and land on your feet.

r Be fluid.

r Read the situation.

r Don’t be tied [too tightly] to something [such as an idea, approach, or topic].

r If you know there’s demand for something—feed the demand.

r Sometimes it has nothing to do with you or your work—it’s in the ether.

r Accept gifts when they come your way.

r When an opportunity presents itself, let your muse go to work.

r Adapt and change—the story knows what it wants to be.

r Don’t trust rejection as rejection.

r Story will never be what you think it is. It will never follow the schedule you think.

r Editors may have trouble taking leaps of faith. You may have to take them by the hand and show them.

r Say “YES”—take the risk.

r Titles need to grab people and make them think, “What is that?!” But don’t tell everything in the title.

r Just tell the story.

A Challenge
Which of Greg’s one-line tips stands out to you? Let that thought be the mantra for your writing this week.

More about Greg Neri

Greg’s latest books are KNOCK OUT GAMES (an edgy novel) and HELLO, I’M JOHNNY CASH (a picture book in verse). Visit Greg’s web site at: http://www.gregneri.com/