Thursday, February 27, 2014

Who'd Have Thunk?

Tuesday evening, I was back at The Writers' Loft for my second time in four days. (I feel the start of a really good routine; again, what a welcoming writerly community.)

I was attending a Picture Book Dummy and Storyboard Workshop which was especially enticing to me because we'd actually make a dummy of our own picture book manuscript. Anna Staniszewski led an informative class, covering all the bases of dummy and storyboard benefits.

Some highlights:
- Dummies get one thinking visually. They show if there's too much or not enough action.
- Page turns affect story pacing/suspense, slowing it down or speeding it along.
- You test each page's emphasis by deciding what to illustrate.
- Explore the illustrator potential. Enough variety? The same setting doesn't have to mean the same action.
- Give the illustrator room to tell the story. (Don't we all love picture books where the words tell one story and the illustrations tell another, yet they sync perfectly.)

Now I previously knew that picture book dummies were supposed to be useful. But, in the back of my mind, I thought, "Not necessary for a writer," as I revised my stories again and again and again.

Here's what I learned from the act of actually making a dummy from my own manuscript:
- First off, it feels mahvelous to see your text as an actual picture book.
- Even when you can't draw to save your life, you can scribble the gist of an illustration and it will prove extremely helpful.
- Even when you cut every word you think you can, once the words are on the page, you'll be able to cut more.

So now I know, I'll still revise and revise, but in a much smarter way -- with a dummy.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My Conundrum

But first, I’m taking the plunge: this is my very first blog post. Woohoo!

Why today? Because last Sunday I went to my first event at The Writers' Loft in Sherborn. I wish I had heard about them earlier. What a homey place, filled with an extremely welcoming writerly community. (Thank you, founder Heather Kelly!) As I entered the building, it was so nice to be greeted by Josh Funk, who oozed good vibes, gave me a tour and showed me the ropes.

The workshop was “Creating an Author Website” given by techie extraordinaire, Ray Brierly. (A top-notch class for a nominal fee? Ridiculous in this day and age but very much appreciated.) I took this workshop because, as a pre-published children’s picture book author, my fear is that I won’t be credible without a website. But what kind of amazing content do I have to put on a website? No colorful book covers, no accolades to tout, no MFA title…

Anna Staniszewski, author and writing professor at Simmons College, was there with encouraging words of wisdom. Even though everyone often blogs about the same types of things, just write about your journey, from beginning writer to professional author. Your journey is unique to you. Write about the workshops you take (I take many), the conferences you go to (I go to many), and anything else you experience along your writing path.

Now I’ve been taking classes and writing for years. And years. And going to conferences. And reading other people’s bogs. But I guess all the pieces have finally come together. So I’m finally jumping in and blogging. Which is pretty big for me.

Now back to my conundrum: as a pre-published author, do I take the bigger plunge and make a website – which I totally believe I could do, thanks to Ray’s class. Well, I’ve given it much thought and, for now, my first toe in the water will be a blog. All of my info will fit, with room to spare, on a blog. Down the road, a website... 

So one step at a time, as long as I keep taking them. And since I’ve been at this writing stuff for a long time, I might be running sooner than I think.