SCBWI Ireland Meet-up (Focus on Editing)

By Colleen Jones

On August 11, 2012, we held our second meet-up at the lovely Bishopstown Library in Cork city. Tea and coffee were provided by the library staff, and participants brought biscuits and hand-made chocolates to share. Of course, I would focus on food first thing!

Our first ever SCBWI Ireland meet-up in Cork was held in June 2012. Michelle Moloney-King’s impressions of the meet-up are published in a blog article in the online edition of Children’s Books Ireland’s INIS magazine. For the full article, read With a Rebel Yell…SCBWI Ireland Talks Children’s Books.

For the second meet-up, we had smaller group, as many people were on holidays or their honeymoon or having wisdom teeth out, but it was still a lively and productive meeting.

Editing

The main focus for this meet-up was on editing. To facilitate the discussion, I took some chapter headings from The Complete Guide to Editing Your Fiction by Michael Seidman. This was broken down into story elements, grammar and style, and then what I call a “random checklist”. The full list is attached as an editing brainstorming aid.

People shared some of their own editing techniques, such as:

  • Turn off the internal editor for your first draft (tie it up and stick it in a cupboard if need be) – you can get bogged down editing every sentence or word before you even have the full idea out of your head
  • Write by hand to keep the editor at bay – this can make it harder to make edits than using a computer with handy cut and paste functions.
  • Work on more than one project at a time – for some people, this gives a little space to step back from a project so you have “fresh eyes” when coming back to edit it. It can also be helpful if you’re feeling stuck. Just switch to another project for a bit.
  • Write the conclusion – some people like to write a conclusion early on and then work towards it. Not sure if it stops you from editing too soon, but it can help your focus.
  • Write text for a picture book as a single text first – some folks find it easier to write the text in full flow and then go back and break it into the 32-page panels or whatever length is required.

These are just ideas. Nothing is right or wrong, it’s just something to try.

We segued into other topics and got onto a discussion about character profiles. Some people write them first and then start the story, others write the story first and then go back and do a character profile. Either way can be helpful in the editing process as you either flesh out your character or trim out unnecessary details that don’t move the story forward. One writer said she even does horoscopes for her characters, which helps identify certain traits and compatibilities. Great idea!

We also talked about point-of-view (POV). Everyone has preferences, some like first person, some like third person. It’s good to experiment with these and even try writing a section of your story both ways to see what happens. Someone wrote a book entirely in third person, then decided it didn’t work and rewrote the entire book in first person! Good examples of successful first-person POVs is Malory Blackman’s Knots and Crosses or Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games. Katherine Paterson is great with third-person POV. See Bridge to Terabithia or anything else by her, frankly. She’s da bomb!

Event ideas

We had a lively discussion about events that people would like to see happen in the future, including:

  • Writing/sketching sessions
  • Guest speakers at meet-ups
  • Flash fiction (I had to look this up as I didn’t know what is was – very VERY short stories)
  • Group writing, where two or more people write the same story together
  • Casual drinks/chats nights

These can be done by anybody at any time, you don’t have to wait for SCBWI Ireland to organize it, though we’re happy to help!

Resources

People also named a some resources and places where we can try to spread information about SCBWI Ireland and what we have to offer writers and illustrators of children’s books:

Stumbled across some interesting courses at University College Cork while I was looking up the various websites:

These are a few book resources that people recommended during the meet-up:

  • The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Children’s Publishing by Harold Underdown
  • The Complete Guide to Editing Your Fiction by Michael Seidman
  • Children’s Writer’s Word Book by Alijandra Mogilner
  • Writing for Children and Teens: A Crash Course by Cynthea Liu
  • How to Write for Children by Louise Jordan

All of these resources will be added to the website.

Next meet-up

There is more work to be done to develop SCBWI Ireland as a writing and illustrating resource. As the membership continues to grow, we hope more people will volunteer to organize activities in all corners of Ireland!

The next SCBWI Ireland meet-up in Cork is on Saturday, September 29th, 2012 at Bishopstown Library. For more information, see the “Meet-ups” page.

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