Peace, love, and children’s books.
That was the motto for this year’s SCBWI conference in L.A. and really isn’t that what children's book writers should be all about? Well, at least while we’re writing.
Always looking to share what I learn in my quest to become a better writer, I have put together a list of what I deem The Top 10 Nuggets of Knowledge. I realize that the conference ended 11 days ago but deciphering my hand-scribble takes a lot of time, a magnifying glass, and a sip or six of chardonnay. I also recognize that there were so many pearls of wisdom shared with us, the title would be better named The Top 1,000 Nuggets of Knowledge, but that would no longer constitute a blog, but full on plagiarism. Never good.
As an ode to David Letterman, I intended to compile my list is in reverse order, from least to most important nugget. But, then I remember being told at the conference to “think outside the box,” so I decided to start at number five and flip backwards, then forwards again, but all that flipping around whipped up my vertigo, and I had to take a break and start fresh.
So, here are my nuggets, in no particular order of magnitude, credited to their source.
- Write a timeless book. – Arthur A. Levine, Editor
- a story that stands the test of time, like; Where the Wild
Things Are, The Golden Compass, or any of the Harry Potter books.
Seems a simple enough task. If I could just find my HB2 pencil, I’d write the next classic.
- Ask yourself, “What would my 10 year old self want to read?” - Tony Diterlizzi, The Spiderwick Chronicles
- Conduct the first line test. – Lissa Price, Starters
- Is it a zinger, compelling the reader to want to read the rest of your book?
- When outlining your book, flesh out the details, but still leave a bit to chance. - Sara Shepard, Pretty Little Liars
- Do not sign up for a Gulag simulation, no matter how into research you may be. - Ruta Sepetys, Between Shades of Gray
(I’m sure you don’t need to be told this twice.)
- Never give the reader a good place to stop reading. – Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why
-Make your book so suspenseful, that the reader will stay up all night reading.
(Possibly under the covers, by flashlight.)
- Ignore all writing advice – Dan Gutman, My Weird School
- Which he quickly followed with, “try everything and if that doesn’t work, try something else.”
- Drop the romantic notion of what being an artist means – get a real job. - Bryan Collier, Uptown
*Ouch.* Sometimes the truth hurts.
- Marketing is Key – when dealing with eBooks and apps, otherwise no one will be able to find you. – Chintu Parikh, Kite Readers
- Write with passion from your heart - do it your way, dream big. - Karen Cushman, Will Sparrow's Road
So, why are you still sitting there?
Grab your pencil, follow your heart and a detailed outline, (with a first line hook) and write that timeless suspenseful classic that your 10 year old self would read, all while working as an accountant, saving your pennies for the digital launch.
What!? You’re not going to take this advice? Fine.
Please remember one thing.
Just say no to Gulag simulations, no matter how tempting.
*I know I said you didn't need to be told twice about the whole Gulag thing, but it sounded horrifying, and I worry...