Laura McGee Kvasnosky spoke at the May SCBWI Western Washington professional series meeting. Ms. Kvasnosky, who is an author and an illustrator, shared artists' techniques that can be super helpful in structuring a novel. She pointed out that when a novelist does it right, the reader quits noticing the printed words. She said when an author has a clear image in his or her mind, he or she can transfer the image better into the reader's head. One of my incredibly talented critique partners, Margaret Nevinski, blogged about the evening here. I met Ms. Kvasnosky after her presentation, and she is so sweet! Plus she plays a mean ukulele!
This is a pic of my critique group from that same night.
This week I went to a Field's End Roundtable, and the speaker, Jennie Shortridge, really impressed me. Ms. Shortridge is the author of four bestselling novels. The title of her talk: "The Art of Arc: Getting Those Flabby Middles in Shape." What I loved most was she gave us several concrete steps to help us firm up our novels.
One tip: use clear, brief transitions. Her example was, "Two hours later, she was sitting at the bar. Her dad walked in." In writing, we can skip the mundane parts and get to what's interesting. She said, "When you peel away the crap, you reveal the good stuff."
Another piece of advice was to put limits on the story. She said a ticking clock is one way to put limits because it puts urgency in a story. "Something needs to happen or else." She also suggested shortening a story's time frame. I agree! I did this between drafts and my WIP is much tighter.
Ms. Shortridge had so many great suggestions! If you ever have the chance to hear her speak, do so!