Thursday, August 16, 2012

It's All About the Picture Books

Week of August 12, 2012: Stand-out Moments from SCBWI, LA
Thursday, August 16—It’s All About the Picture Books (At Least to Us!)

There was a wealth of information for picture book writers at SCBWI LA. A Picture Book Panel was featured in one general session. The participants included:
Dan Yaccarino, Jon Klassen, Antoinette Portis, Lee Wardlow, and Eugene Yelchin.

On  the question of whether to follow trends or not, here’s what the panelists said . . .

EUGENE—We live in “cultural moments” each day. Culture and language change constantly. We have to be aware of these cultural moments. We cannot create in a vacuum.

LEE—A story has heart and character—the last thing it needs is a trend.

JON—We have the luxury of telling a story in thirty-two pages, so we don’t need to connect to a trend for a work to be defined.

EUGENE—You can only write your own story.

ANTIONETTE—We have to know trends so we know what is current. For instance, if we write a 2000-word picture book it shows we don’t know the trend toward shorter word count. Be aware of new openings and spaces where you see a style used by another author, and see if you can play into that.

Where do stories in picture and art come from?

JON—The goal is to be as clear as you can. I am my own audience.

EUGENE—Connect with yourself as the child of fivc. Write to the five-year-old version of yourself. Connect with yourself and see if the story resonates with you.

LEE—Write to entertain yourself—during the first draft. When revising, hone the manuscript based on what you know about child development.

ANTIONETTE­—Get in touch with your inner child.

My favorite breakout session of the entire conference was led by the fabulous picture book author, Kate Messner. Her session was entitled The Magic of the Unexpected. Kate told us ways to find magic in the picture books we are writing. You would have to attend a session with Kate to get the real meat of her presentation, but let me list for you where some of the magic lies.

·       R Unexpected characters in familiar settings and situations
R Unexpected pairings
R    Unexpected endings
R Unexpected points of view
R Unexpected glimpses of hidden worlds
R Unexpected curiosity
R Unexpected simplicity
R Unexpected unexpected—the things yet to be invented

Be inspired my picture book friends, there’s plenty of room out there for our stories. All we have to do is seize the moment, connect with our inner-child, write from our hearts, and capture the unexpected!'

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