More SCBWI (yep, I'm nearing the end):
WENDY LOGGIA—I Wanted to Love This: 7 Reasons Why Your MS Gets Declined
1) Good writing, but no story—i.e., lacking plot/action
-She’s not willing to take a chance just b/c of good writing.
-Question to ask: Why is someone going to buy your book?
2) Your MS is too similar to other novels the editor has worked, to other books in the marketplace, to other books on the editor’s list, or to other books on the list that aren’t doing well.
-A book suited to her taste is good, if it’s not too close to something she’s already working on.
3) She doesn’t know who the reader is for your MS.
-Need at least the national palette market (Borders/B&N) or the school market.
-Your book can’t fall too far off the list of what works for their audience.
-Questions: Who do you want to write for? Who will your reader be?
4) The writer seems like a difficult person to work with, or the editor likes the person but the writing is bad.
-Editors google writers and read their blogs.
-Be careful about criticizing books edited by a house.
-Editors don’t want to see things about how many times you’ve been shot down, or you complaining about how hard it is to write.
5) She loves the concept but can’t connect to the voice.
-Not special enough; can’t see teens connecting to the narrator or attracting children; too much telling/distraction from the reading process.
6) Submitting too early/before the project is ready.
-This speaks for itself, I think.
7) Your work doesn’t stand out.
-A big publisher might pass on books that are small to mid-list if they aren’t very passionate about the book.
-The editor must be passionate about your work to represent it, especially in today’s marketplace.
And now, for a few words of inspiration from really smart people:
-“Kids can smell it on you when you’re insincere. Do what you love. You’ll find your audience; you really will.”
-If you write PBs—-pictures tell the story. Words tell you things the pictures can’t convey. Words should never tell you what the picture can tell (e.g., the color of pillow is told by the picture, not by words).
0You can find an audience for personal work that comes from deep inside. Stick to your vision, and don’t take rejection personally.
-She quoted Richard Peck in saying: “We write by the light of every book we have ever read.”
-Stories don’t only teach; they also shield people from real life.
INGRID LAW—Writing Magic: From the Head to the Heart
-Don’t listen to the “maybe someone won’t like that” voice. Just write. You can’t imagine/predict what readers will and won’t like.
-Put everything you are in your work. Everything you experience becomes part of who you are. The good and the bad experiences serve to inform whatever is coming next and to create whatever magical potion you remain to create.
-Don’t just use your head. Put your heart into your work. Your heart makes your work glisten and pulse.
-“A story is only as strong as the voice telling it.”
-->e.g., Wintergirls shows the purpose of fiction; dramatizing truth no one dares to touch; shows the world children create the minute an adult turns his/her back.
-“A story is a question, not an answer, and we dare ask the questions no one dares to ask.”
-“Questions are roadmaps to show the illiterate out of town.”
-“All stories turn upon epiphanies. Epiphanies are when everything changes and you can’t go back.”
-There are different types of despair. Solitary (working alone), nightmare (e.g., getting to the end of your third-person book and realizing it should've been in first person), and endless (e.g., waiting on a non-ringing phone to ring). But there comes a day when there is no room for the luxury of despair. It's when you see a kid “trying to dig out. You know you can’t help, but you wonder if story can, if companionship will.”
-“That’s what we do. That’s who we are.”
NEXT UP FROM SCBWI--Tools for fast-paced plotting, tips and goofs to avoid, a bit about Egmont, and a 5-ingredient recipe for breakout-novel success. Stay tuned!