Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The 8th Annual Idaho Conference on Youth and Children's Literature and Writing

In April, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the 8th Annual Idaho Conference on Youth and Children’s Literature and Writing. It is the annual conference for the SCBWI-Utah/Southern Idaho region. I loved having an entire day to immerse myself in all aspects of writing. There were fabulous speakers, guests, and attendants. I learned so many things, and I am glad I had the opportunity to attend.

One of my favorite speakers from the conference was Harold Underdown. I have frequented his website in the past, but to have the chance to hear him speak live was wonderful. His keynote talk was all about the top 10 things we need to know about children’s publishing. He covered things from market and social media, to craft and trends. It was all very fascinating, and I loved hearing his take on everything.

I also got the opportunity to do a revision intensive with him. In this 2 hour block, I, along with the other attendees, got a condensed version of what he does in his week-long workshop for Highlights. We learned how to approach our writing as an editor would. It was very informative, and gave us all better ideas on how to write and revise. One of the things he said that I really liked, was: “Revision is a re-vision.” I think this a great way to see why revision is important. It helps one get the best out of their manuscript. He also taught us tips, tricks, and useful ideas that I am excited to apply to my manuscripts.

Another great speaker that I was excited to learn from, was Angela Ruth Strong. Although she does not write picture books, she did a workshop on humor. She gave us different approaches she uses to make her manuscripts funnier. She talked about giving your character quirks, using different points of view, putting your character in silly situations, and doing something the reader is not expecting. Not only did I laugh a lot during her presentation, but I also learned many great tips and ideas for bringing out the humor in my writing.

The last speaker that I greatly enjoyed learning from was N. D. Wilson. He did two different presentations, and I found them both enlightening. In the first one, he focused on the power of concrete description. He talked about the importance of using the five senses to draw the reader in. He also talked about being an observer of the world, and then put those observations into words. It was fascinating to listen to him.
In his second presentation, he talked about how words are physical. He explained to us that words are physical objects that hit you and give you a reaction. We as writers have to choose the words we use carefully, to elicit a response from the reader. He also talked about how a writer has to be a lover of words, which is very true.

All in all, I greatly enjoyed my time at the conference this year. I learned a lot, I met new people, and I found things I can take and apply to my writing. It was a beneficial experience, and I am glad that I went.

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