Why I’m Glad I Attended the SCBWI Mid-Year Workshop

So the SCBWI 46th Annual Summer Conference kicks off this weekend and I thought it would be a great time to recap the regional conference John and I went to last month.

Let’s just say that we had such a blast in Orlando that we’ve now set a goal to attend the big conference in LA next summer.

For those who don’t know, SCBWI is the largest children’s writing organization in the world. Basically, it is a nonprofit that facilitates networking for people (writers, illustrators, editors, publishers, booksellers etc) involved in creating children’s literature. In my opinion, it is an amazing organization.

Anyways, back to the Florida Mid-Year Workshop. John and I decided to attend the humor track for the day, which means we got to spend the whole day with author Bruce Hale and editor Francesco Sedita. It was great.

I took a bunch of notes, which I considered taking a picture of and sharing here, but let’s be honest. I can barely read my chicken scratch. There’s no way they’d be readable in a photo. So I’ll just touch on a few highlights.

One of the first things we talked about was “why am I funny?” The best answer I came up with is that I’ve dealt with some fairly rough stuff early on in my life. (Haven’t we all?) I could have chosen to be angry, to cry, or to laugh. Now I’ve done my fair share of all three. But, overall, I feel like I chose laughing and trying to make others laugh. I don’t think it was a conscience decision, but there you have it. I think a lot of my humor comes from trying to make dark times lighter.

We talked about writing comedy from the set up—not the punch line. We’ve all screwed up a joke by giving away the punch line too early or in some other similar fashion. Most jokes fall flat because the set up—how they are delivered—isn’t done properly. Something to remember.

The cool thing about the workshop was that it wasn’t really about delivering one line zingers and whatnot. But how to make your writing humorous as a whole. How to interject a bit of humor during a dark moment for your main character. How to release tension through humor. It really was great.

While I learned a ton during workshop, some of the best value came while talking face-to-face with some of the professionals. John and I had an few minutes afterwords to talk one on one with Bruce and Francesco. The encouragement, suggestions, and feedback that we received were invaluable. Like I said in a previous post, John and I are collaborating again, and Francesco is interested in reading my manuscript for my Madam Fang picture book.

Its always fun to leave somewhere feeling invigorated, inspired and motivated.  What’s even better, (warning: mushy gushy stuff incoming) is sharing that experience with your best friend and amazing husband. I can’t wait to see where it leads us.

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