Monday, January 30, 2012

NY SCBWI conference

This past weekend I spoke at three different break-out sessions at the NY SCBWI conference on "Narrative Fiction". As I said during my speech, I was a little perplexed about the topic, but decided to focus on the three aspects of the narrative I felt were the most important: 1) narrative voice, 2) structure, and 3) plot. I basically summarized options and gave some examples, and some things to think about when choosing your narrative voice and structure. For the plot section, I talked about Libby's post about plot from last Fall, which I had always really liked, and read a few of her plot summaries and had attendees guess the book, which was fun. For a great write-up of my session, check out the SCBWI blog here. (that's where I borrowed this picture from)

I also participated in the GLBTQ&A session, where we discussed the market for GLBTQ (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning) literature. It was a wonderful discussion led by my buddy Lee Wind who I met at the Nevada SCBWI conference. Also participating was author Ellen Hopkins, agent Jennifer Laughran, and my former colleague T.S. Ferguson who is now an Associate Editor at Harlequin Teen. One disheartening thing we discussed was that even though T.S, Jenn, and I have all stated that we're open to and looking for submissions with GLBTQ characters and content, the truth is that less that 5% of the submissions we receive fall in that category (Jenn originally estimated just 1%). We discussed the fear that writers have for writing outside their own experience, and one writer very aptly said something to the effect of, "I don't live in a dystopian world, yet people don't criticize writers for writing about that kind of world." We encouraged writers to write outside of their own experiences, but to do so sensitively, and when in doubt, make sure to get beta readers who may be more intimately familiar with the content.

We capped off the night with some Karaoke (of course). It was a wonderful day, and I had fun making new friends, seeing some familiar faces, and talking books! (although considering the three-hour nap I took in the middle of the day on Sunday, I was pretty worn out.) But, I would highly recommend the NY SCBWI conference for writers of all levels. The keynote speeches are always wonderful, the break-out sessions enlightening (I hope!), and it's also a great networking opportunity to meet editors, agents, authors, and illustrators of all different levels.


Libby Koponen said...

Alvina! Thank you for posting this -- it makes me want to go to the next SCBWI conference, something I've never wanted to do before.

I liked that you admitted to the three-hour nap, too. :-)

And thank you for saying you really liked that plot post: I always really liked it too and was a little disappointed that no one commented and only one person checked "interesting" -- though glad ONE person did.

As long as one reader finds a post or a book interesting, it wasn't a waste.

Anyhow thanks for this post!

Kristen Wixted said...

Your session was great! I got lucky--all mine were. I think I get more out of conferences as I get better at writing. I understand more.
Anyway, thanks for being so prepared! And thanks for answering my question about beginnings--I'm going to look for that post you mentioned.

Meghan McCarthy said...

I should add that even though I said that life isn't always fair I am one of those people who is trying constantly to make it fair. It's a losing mission.