|Is this book adorable? Affirmative!
|Ame Dyckman (Photo source)
The NJ conference is a little exhausting. Okay, it's extremely exhausting, coupled with the fact that I didn't sleep more than 4 hours each night.
My first workshop on Saturday morning was my favorite of the weekend. Kit Grindstaff, debut MG author of THE FLAME IN THE MIST, and Jennifer Hubbard, YA author of THE SECRET YEAR and TRY NOT TO BREATHE, took us into The Dark Underbelly and taught us how to add flaws, secrets, and lies to deepen our characters and their stories. What ghosts from the past haunt your character? What skeletons are in their closet? What don't they know about themselves?
This workshop helped me realize what was missing from my novel.
And I highly recommend Kit Grindstaff's novel (which I finished reading after the conference). With the help of two magical golden rats, a friend named Digby, and an ancient book, Jemma must fight the evil Agromond family and the Mist that has overtaken Anglavia. If you like your MG fantasy action-packed and dark, with a strong female protagonist, if you like getting lost in a long (449 pages) and fascinating tale, with excellent worldbuilding, The Flame in the Mist (Delacorte, April, 2013, for ages 9 and up) should be on your TBR list. Sorry -- I can't give away my hardcover. It's personalized!
One of my other favorite workshops was run by Wendy Mass. You've seen her mentioned on this blog more than once.
Using examples from her newest book, PI IN THE SKY, Wendy taught us the secret to her success. She doesn't outline; she blueprints. This is her term for a system in which you start with a list of 20 important events that must happen in your novel (each described in one or two words). Then you rewrite them in the order you want them. Take the first idea and that becomes Chapter One. Your next step is to list 10 important events that must happen in Chapter One (or you can use 5 or 6 events if it feels too long). Step 3 is to change each idea into a who, what, when, where, or why question. And then answer them. Do this for each chapter and you have a complete Blueprint. When you're ready to turn it into a novel, write a page for each of the chapter ideas.
It's as simple as that. I can't wait to try this method myself.
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Next week: POV and Scene Structure, plus a funny and touching moment with Tara Lazar, author of THE MONSTORE!
Are you a member of SCBWI or some other writing organization? Have you ever attended the NJ conference?