On Saturday, March 13th I participated in an event sponsored by the Kansas Chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writer’s and Illustrators. This years theme is Catching Fire 2010 Workshop – Lighting In A Bottle. The event was Creating Powerful Picture Books with Sandy Asher. She is the author of “Too Many Frogs” an award winner.
Sandy has 25 books for young people including YA, chapter and non-fiction. She is also a playwrite and an editor of 5 anthologies. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant in playwriting. Sandy was also an instructor teaching creative writing at Drury University in Springfield Missouri.
This was an exciting event for me and I learned so much information. All of it extremely helpful. I will now be able to sit down and have more focus on putting together a picture book manuscript. The topics covered included:
Been There, Done That: 40+ Years of Writing for Publication and How Not To Become Rich and Famous
What Went Right?: Successful Books and How They Got That Way
It’s All About the Pigeon: Character, Conflict, and Point of View in 1000 Words or a Whole Lot Less
Show; Don’t Tell: It’s Not Only the Illustrator’s Job
As a new writer some of the trouble areas I have in producing a picture book is character and conflict within a plot. There are 3 things I need to focus on in my story. Whose story is this, what does he want, who is standing in the way.
I am thinking, this should be easy, it makes sense to have these 3 elements. As I write I need to be thinking about how the character should draw in the reader. The problem has to be worthy of the characters attention. And finally, the solution should be logical and show how the character has grown from the conflict presented in the story. Sounds easy enough, until you sit down to write and realize you may have to revise your story umpteen times to get it right. I am told this is just the way it is.
Now, there are still more things to consider creating a picture book that readers will want to look at over and over again.
External obstacles = things beyond the characters control
Interpersonal obstacles = the difference of opinion with other characters in the story
Internal obstacles = the characters way of thinking and his abilities to resolve conflict
All of these points will help keep me focused when it comes time to fine tune the story I have created. To avoid confusion to my reader I need to be sure to make sure the first person the reader meets in my story is the main character. I need to keep in mind that children need to learn to see things from another point of view. Finally, with a picture book kids will learn to take on another role.
Overall, I learned a lot. To become a better writer the best thing I can do for myself is to keep learning, networking and writing.