Friday, September 20th, 2019

SCBWI Highlights

I had the pleasure of spending this past Saturday at the SCBWI Winter Conference in NYC.  Wow!  For those of you remotely interested in writing for children, the SCBWI conferences are a must.  The information, networking opportunities and resources are invaluable.

The venerable Lois Lowry gave a superb keynote on finding ideas (during which I suddenly had a brainstorm for a new picture book idea!).  There was a very informative picture book panel led by Jane Yolen, Mark Teague and Patricia Lee Gauch. Jane shared ten words every picture book author must know – lyricism, compression, child centeredness, focus, hook, words, ‘illustratability’, motion, emotion and resolution (thank you, Jane – this gives me weeks worth of blog topics!). Mark spoke about art that has depth, and provokes wonder and a sense of mystery for the reader as to what might be going on beyond the borders of the page.  Patricia talked about “letting go to story,” the miracle of page turns and the dramatic arc as a wave, that must rise and crest and resolve itself.

The breakout sessions with editors, agents and art directors were hugely informative, and provided attendees with rare opportunities for manuscript submissions.  There was much discussion about the opportunities as well as the challenges being brought about by new technology, and there was general agreement that most editors have seen enough manuscripts about dystopian societies, vampires and psychic teens, thank you very much.  Everyone agrees that strong, simple premises, compelling and true characters and beautiful – or witty – writing will always be in demand.  Hilarious keynotes by R.L. Stine and Jules Feiffer rounded out the day’s delights.

Thank you, Lin Oliver, Stephen Mooser and everyone at SCBWI for forty years of unmatched service and support for children’s book authors and illustrators!


8 Responses to “SCBWI Highlights”
  1. Beth says:

    This sounds wonderful! When I first read about the Conference, I yearningly thought, “Oh, I wish I could go to that!” Now, having read your blogpost, I so wish I’d been there! Maybe next year. I look forward to your blog topics on the 10 key words Jane Yolen shared, and the inter-relatedness between them. How, for example, does one ensure lyricism and compression? I hope you’ll also blog (or talk in the Hub) about “letting go to story”. Oh, gosh, I wish I’d been there! (Right, I said that already.)

  2. Joanna says:

    I followed along for all three days through the live blog (thanks for that info) and I got so much out of simply that information, that it made me determined to try and make the summer SCBWI conf. if I can, or failing that maybe next winter. I am very much looking forward to you expanding on Jane Yolen’s keywords. And how cool that Lois Lowry’s session inspired a new picture book idea 🙂

  3. Gary says:

    Still here and paying close attention. So much to learn but oh so invigorating… shoveling snow. As Beth and Joanna stated, I’m patiently awaiting your upcoming “take” on Jane Yolen’s keywords.

  4. Diane says:

    Yes Emma I agree with the other three, could you make a discussion on each one as separate topics, examples, and question and answers. Getting into the nitty-gritty of writing is so exciting. So lovely you came away with a new picture book idea. Joanna (just quietly) thinking of that summer conference, could be a possibility for me…

  5. Patricia says:

    Somehow forgot to check your blog last week. I followed some of SCBWI conference last weekend. I would love to hear you expand upon Jane Yolen’s key words.

  6. You were a fantastic speaker! I found your lecture really interesting and inspiring. Thank you!

  7. Emma says:

    Thank you, Margot!

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