I’ve been a member of SCBWI for going on two years now. Our regional group in Germany/Austria is small, but steadily growing. And what talented people we have amongst us! It gives hope and inspiration whenever I receive a regional update that someone has signed with a publisher or an editor. So the world does still read books on paper. Yay! Watch out! One day my name will be in that newsletter…
On Saturday, I had the opportunity to spend the afternoon with the talented Joni Sensel during an SCBWI workshop in Frankfurt, Germany. It was the first time the sun had shone in weeks. I knew it was going to be a good day.
It was so refreshing to be in the company of a published author who was both down to earth and very knowledgeable about her craft. Who could have known that playing the “5 Why’s” game with an important aspect of a story (person, place or thing) could make or break a story and keep an author from frustration? And would you have thought to use gamers as a sounding board for complex fantasy worlds? No? Neither would I. But it all made sense.
Here are my top takeaways from the workshop; some things I already knew, but a few new ones popped up:
1. Write, write and write some more! Write everyday and everywhere.
2. Write the story you want to write and not what you think will sell.
3. If you write a fantastic story that you like (and you get a publisher/agent to like it), it will sell.
4. Don’t take the reader for granted.
5. Ask ‘Why’ 5 times and answer your question with another why. If you get stuck after two or three times, then whatever it is (person, place, thing) is probably not as important as you think it is for the story.
6. Integrate the fantastic with contemporary (i.e. witches and wizards living in modern day London).
7. Match the story language to the created world. An apocalyptic setting for young adults is going to conjure up harsh, edgy language and not wispy, light mood language.
8. And lastly, I am on track with my writing and should not give up even though the finish line is far, far away.
Thank you Joni for sharing your knowledge.