These are my notes from Gennifer Choldnenko's keynote speech at the SCBWI LA Summer Conference, 2010.
Do kids “grow up faster” today? Why the trend for longer books if attention spans are shorter now? Graphic novels – Diary of a Wimpy Kid – started as a blog. Trend of gaming and storytelling collaboration.
- E.B. White killed off Charlotte. Wasn't afraid to make it real.
- If you had a happy childhood, you should consider writing for adults.
- What the writer experiences, the reader experiences.
- Each character in your book should have as much personality as the kids had in your 3rd grade class.
- Jot down notes on how people walk, dress, move, talk, look. Eaves drop.
- Every detail must fit the world you've created. Style your own book. Clothing, environment, language etc.
- If you don't care about what you're writing, stop. Go back. Must be gratifying in itself, not just a set up for something later.
- Once you write your first draft, go back and discover what you are avoiding saying.
- “Between” state is most creative (between sleep and wakefulness). Most likely to get an idea after intense brain storming, after the pressure is off.
- Only those who risk going too far find out how far they can go.
- Take care of your 'writer' self. What does it need? Write almost every day so your muse knows when/where to find you. Suit up and show up. Butt In Chair method. Don't be concerned with quantity (number of words) too much – it's about quality. You could also try going for quantity and see if it works for you.
- Feel your way, don't think your way through a story.
- Push your protagonist. The reader wants to see them doing something that they themselves would never do – only think about.
- Skills increase with practise.
- Kids deserve the very best books we can write. A child out there needs your book. Write for that child.