Monday, April 10, 2006


I'm back from my SCBWI retreat. It was an incredible experience and SO worthwhile! The location was rustic, a true summer camp setting. But, it was the perfect escape and it brought back many fond memories.

We spent Friday night watching Dan Schwabauer's presentation: Story Telling From the Silver Screen. He used movie clips to demonstrate plot elements that must be included in all good stories. (If you have a chance to see Dan's presentation, go for it! It was an entertaining approach to explainig the elements of plot.)

Later, we broke into critique groups. There were only three in the picture book group, but I learned a lot from the experience. I took a story I hadn't worked on in a while and found the critiquers' comments insightful. I know JUST how to fix this one up!

The workshop with Jane Kurtz was exactly what I needed at exactly the right time. She is knowledgeable, down-to-earth, energetic and positive. She has that ability to look at a story and know just what's wrong. She critiqued a story for each participant prior to our arrival, and throughout the session, tied her workshop comments back to what she noted on our manuscripts.

We spent a lot of time analyzing picture books in relation to genre. It helped so much to be able to ask questions about why certain elements were used in certain books. At one point, I had to test out a theory (something I've noticed lately and something that cynthea brought up in my free-tique.) I read an opening aloud (it was one of those Lion did this. Lion did that. Lion did NOT like to ??? openings.)

I asked, "I've noticed a lot of picture books open with this type of opening. Do you think it's necessary to start this way?" She pointed to a worksheet we had just discussed. "See the rhythm?" she asked. Suddenly, the lightbulb clicked on! (so thank you to Jane and to cynthea!)

Here's an excerpt from the article that helped pull this together for me. It's a simple statement, but I felt like someone handed me glasses after years of walking around with fuzzy vision. It's from MAGAZINE STORY OR PICTURE BOOK? written by Carol Iverson: "What do editors look for in a picture book? Julie Amper, editorial edirector of children's books at Arcade Publishing, watches for language, pattern, cadence, vision, magic and wonderment..."

It was a wonderful weekend. I feel like I can do this... and that I'm getting close to breaking in. I can't wait to start my revisions because I feel really good about where I'm headed.


At 7:53 PM, Blogger Don Tate II said...

Sounds like a fun time. Im sure you are close. And I can say, I knew her when she blogged!


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