I’m just back from the New England Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators terrific annual conference. I attended workshops on creating quirky characters and levitating my fiction and had a professional critique of my MG novel draft.
Jane Yolen and Tomie DePaola were inspiring, and we heard wonderful remarks from Steve Moser and Lin Oliver, SCBWI’s founders. With almost 600 attendees, the networking opportunities were fantastic. I renewed acquaintances and made new contacts. It was a fantastic conference.
If that were not inspiration enough, last night I heard Katherine Paterson speak! So I am floating along on a sea of writerly waves. It was the perfect time to read NH author’s Ernest Hebert’s advice on the publisher David Godine’s blog.
Hebert says that when authors identify with their main characters, they tend to protect them like they would protect themselves. Wrong, he says. This results in no dramatic tension.
Hebert advises that authors “must convey in the fiction that the character will succumb to the fate of the story. …tell your protagonist that you don't love him, that he has make his way in the story without your protection.” Read the full comment in A Common Error.
So it’s revision time. Find the backstory, create a more likable character and let the worst thing happen to her.