Last month I had the opportunity to attend an SCBWI-IL conference with none other than founders Lin Oliver and Stephen Mooser. They were delightful, and it was so fun to listen to them reminisce about how SCBWI came to be and how it has developed and grown over the years.

Aside from that, I think my favorite part was listening to Lin Oliver give “The Best of the Best Writing Advice” which was a compilation of the best advice she’s heard from the some of the best children’s authors over the years. I’m sure she’d heard some pretty amazing advice, but I think she boiled it down pretty well, and I found myself nodding a lot throughout her speech. (Nodding in agreement, not sleepiness.)

Lin gave a list of 14 pieces of advice, but I thought I’d break it down into three or four posts, so we can all take it in and have something to look forward to. So here are the first four:

1. “Write the kind of book you like to read.” -Judy Blume- 
Think about who you are and what you gravitate to. Your story has to mean something to you.

2. “Follow your weirdness.” -Bruce Coville-
There is plenty of opportunity to be regular. Writing is about idiosyncrasy.  Let all of your thoughts flow through you, and notice the weird stuff.

3. “Begin on the day that’s different.” -Susan Patron- “The first chapter is the last chapter in disguise.” -Richard Peck-
There’s nothing more important than how you begin your story, for if the beginning is boring then no one will read the rest. Too many people start at the wrong place, usually several pages (or years) before the place where the story really begins. 

4. “Write in scenes. A scene is over when the thing that needs to happen happens.” -Sid Fleischman-


    • Robin

    • June 12, 2012

    • 5:39 pm

    Good advise. I’m looking forward to the rest of these golden nuggets. I love Bruce Coville’s follow your weirdness and Judy Blume’s too. I read for entertainment and sometimes I worry that my own stories are to entertain, that they’re not as important as other “serious” books, but I don’t even like those “serious” books:)

  1. I just joined SCBWI a month ago and also live in Illinois. This event was pretty close to me but I already had plans. Thanks for giving a little recap.

    I like that one about the first chapter is the last chapter in disguise. Wow, awesome.

  2. Great advice! I love this!

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