Our very own Sub It Clubber, and picture book writer, Ali Bovis, recently attended the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Conference in New York. It was held almost a month ago and Ali got her report right to me, but we had a lot going on here at in the month of February. No matter though, Ali has shared some excellent advice for kidlit writers that is good any time! So, read on for some great tips to remember when writing for children.
I just returned from the 2015 SCBWI Winter Conference in New York City. It was an amazing, informative, and inspiring experience and I wanted to share a few quick thoughts and take aways.
The best news for Sub It Clubbers is so many of the points raised at the conference I had already learned FROM SUB IT CLUB! From Kwame Alexander, James Dashner, Anthony Horowitz, and surprise guest Henry Winkler echoing Sub It Clubbers constant refrain of “keep trying” and “never give up”… to top agents advising not to write your query as your main character. There were countless other inspirational and tactical points which similarly reinforced Sub It Club postings. So when in doubt, ask Sub It Club!
There is a strict blogging policy given to attendees to protect the intellectual property of conference presenters. Therefore I’m not able to type up the twenty-five + pages of notes I took over the weekend. SCBWI organizers seem absolutely wonderful so I want to be sure to respect that policy. What I can do is share some general impressions and a few points that really resonated. So here you go…
- “Don’t write down for children; make them rise up for you”. (Anthony Horowitz, author)
- Didactic = bad (Everyone!!!)
- Write from a kid level view of the world- create a story for a kid, they are the end users. When you are writing, “BE that kid.” (Jessica Garrison, Senior Editor, Dial Books)
- “Write for your audience, not to be published.” (Kami Garcia, author)
- Journals can be an effective tool to collect your thoughts and ideas. (Laura Vaccaro Seeger, author and illustrator)
- Trust your first instinct about something being a cool idea. Believe in it and “work through it.” (Laura Vaccaro Seeger, author and illustrator)
- Pacing is everything. (Laura Vaccaro Seeger, author and illustrator)
- “Don’t jump on the bandwagon. Know where your book will fit on the bookshelf but stay true to the story you want to tell.” (Aimee Friedman, Executive Editor, Scholastic and author)
- Write your heart and passion (agent panel)
- Don’t write to trends but know what’s out there (agent panel)
- You can’t let other peoples’ “no’s” define your “yes” (Kwame Alexander, poet and author)
In terms of the overall experience, it was wonderful. So many of us juggle families, jobs, and just LIFE, as we try to steal time for our writing. To have a set block of time to be immersed in learning about the industry and the craft is incredible. Not to mention being surrounded by other amazing and passionate writers and illustrators. Fellow attendees- you rock! The presenting authors, illustrators, agents, and editors were exceptional. The SCBWI team was dedicated, warm, and pretty hysterical too…
I could go on forever about this awesome and enriching experience but I’m eager to get on to my writing. For additional information about the conference, I encourage you to check out the SCBWI conference blog at http://scbwiconference.blogspot.com. Also check out #NY15SCBWI and #kwamerules on twitter. Happy writing (and illustrating) and sending all the best!
Thanks so much Ali, it’s great to hear that Sub It Club is helping keep people on the right track!