Kristi spoke on characters -- strong, believable, and flawed characters. She spoke about creating ordinary but complex and unique characters. She hit the nail on the head with "interesting." By the way, she commented that she receives many manuscripts with a character having one brown eye and one blue. We laughed about it. Although I wanted to interrupt her very much to talk about my cat, I exhibited tremendous self-control. You can see why ...
So, characters: they must have strong goals, worthy goals, with high stakes. This doesn't mean that every character has to save the world, but we need to think of what the consequences are if the main character does not get what he or she wants. I call it the "So what?" factor. Kristi recommends that we examine the motives of each of our characters. And don't make the character do something on page 50 just because the plot demands it. The plot -- the what happens -- should grow organically out of the characters' strength and weaknesses.
She recommends Creating Characters that Kids will Love by Elaine Marie Alphin. I have not read it, but I've read many of Alphin's books and they are a delight. Paula is holding one of her books that she edited: Ghost Cadet. I must also mention now that she has her own publishing company: Boxing Day Books. I've had the pleasure of owning some of these books, the latest on Rose O'Neill: the Girl who Loved to Draw by Linda Brewster. What a gem of a book. I completely agree with Paula that it needs to be a movie! And Polly Wants a Poem is adorable.
I got to know Paula because she was my editor at Ladybug. I have always appreciated her astute advice. She is logical, thoughtful, and leaves no stones unturned. A writer's best friend. She asks the tough questions that writers must answer, and because of her, I'm a better writer. I've been so blessed in the editor department, and Paula is one of the best. If you need a book doctor, check out her services. She'll grill you, and make you work hard, but you'll be happy.
Paula spoke about the business of writing -- the editor's perspective -- because to get to your intended audience, you have to think about the others -- the editors, the parents who buy books for children. She asked us to think about this quote:
In Essentials, Unity
In Non-essentials, Liberty
In all things, Charity.
We spoke about the essentials. What in our life is non-negotiable? That will be the bedrock of our writing. What are we flexible about? It can open up possibilities.
We discussed the why of this workshop. And it is to share our hope that no matter how dark this world might be at times, there is goodness. It is a Christian worldview. Although this workshop was designed for people of all faiths, we were all Christian. We confess Jesus Christ to be Lord and God, and this unity brought us closer. We could open up and discuss why we write, how faith informs our writing. And of course, how we can plant seeds of faith in others, give hope to young readers in a world that often glorifies the anti-hero.
We discussed the various markets -- secular, religious, inspirational, and crossover. What's odd is that what is called "crossover" now used to the be the norm.
This is getting to be a long post. I have much more to share, but I'll circle back to writing and editing and say this. After meeting these two women whom I've known from afar, I am struck by how well their personalities match their professions. Kristi is emotional, with a great desire to share, and she brings that to her writing. The bottom line is that we read to feel. And Paula, reserved and private, brings her logic to the revision process. Both women are passionate about what they do. And as writers, we need both qualities.
Ciao meow. Only for now.