In May, I attended the SCBWI Western PA Agent Workshop. I learned a lot and got some excellent advice for writers on pitches, storytelling, and revision and I wanted to share it with you!
Pitching Advice for Writers
While they need to be short, they still need to include the main character, the obstacle and some sense of resolution.
This was my pitch and it was well-received.
Storytelling Advice for Writers
- Mirror, Mirror. Please don’t use the tired device of describing your character’s physical appearance by having your your character look into a mirror.
- Too Much Telling takes away from action.
- Why Should I Care? This is the feeling that readers get when they confront too much backstory. Weave it in, don’t dump it.
- Bubble Boy or Girl. Or Alien. Make sure your characters don’t exist in a bubble. Describe the setting and use all five senses!
Revision Advice for Writers
More advice for writers covered how to revise your manuscript. Envision your manuscript as a road that your readers will travel on a wondrous journey. The first draft is like that rocky, dirty, bumpy path carved out by construction equipment. Each stage of renovation makes it smoother, easier, more pleasant to travel.
As you read your manuscript, look for places where you’ve left out setting details, where you’ve used passive voice and -ly words, and if your main character is changing. If not, go back and call in that construction crew.
Advice for Writers of Picture Books
Did you know 60% of the story should be told through illustration? That means for non-illustrating writers like myself, I should only write 40% of the tale in the text. This is an interesting way for me to examine my texts, even though I never considered myself particularly mathematical. I like the idea of making sure the larger part of the tale comes through in the art, even if that does make writing harder.