Monthly Archives: May 2013

Rethinking Revision


One of the best sessions I attended at this year’s NESCBWI conference was Kate Messner’s workship entitled “Real Revision: Big Picture and Line by Line.” Messner is an engaging speaker — probably because of her background as a middle school teacher — but the main reason this workshop earns a “Best of 2013” rating from me is because it was filled with usable tips, guidelines, and insight into the somewhat daunting process of novel revision. Read the rest of this entry


I finished up classes for the semester on Thursday evening and rolled right on into the New England Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Conference in Springfield, MA. I always think “oh, I’ll have time to blog during the conference,” but then I talk to people and do things and can’t squeeze it in the way I want.

So, while I am about to run downstairs for breakfast before the day’s activities begin, I’ll satisfy myself by leaving you with a thirty-second snapshot of yesterday:

  • First workshop session, on using setting to structure fiction with Jeannine Atkins: Did a lot of writing exercises on setting and discovered some really nice details to use in the revisions of the opening of The Spy Novel that I am currently struggling with. Tip: look for little details you can mirror or echo on the first page and the last page of your story.
  • Second workshop session, guided sensory writing with Dawn Metcalf: spent the time sniffing mystery scents and then writing using the scent as a prompt. I wrote about driving through Hershey, Pennsylvania; being sick; a friend who wears nail polish in colors that change every day; and so on. Tip: If you’re stuck, try smelling things to get your sensory memory working.
  • Edgy YA Panel with Scott Blagden, Adah Nuchi, Carter Hasegawa, and Rubin Pfeffer: fascinating discussion about whether kids “self-curate” and read what they’re ready for without censorship. I’ll plan another blog post on that for another day, because what they had to say was interesting. Tip: Write what you’re comfortable writing, let the voice shine through, and someone will find a home for your work.

That’s all for now, folks! Now…must…have…coffee…