"In writing you are the 3rd wheel. No one wants you there. You need to be invisible." --Mo Willems on "voice", SCBWI Winter Conference, NYC
Over the past month I have been taking the Picture Book Academy's "Writing Wonderful Character-Driven Picture Books" e-course taught by the marvelous Marsha Diane Arnold and Dr. Mira Reisberg. Yesterday I completed the last session...for the 3rd time! That's right. This class is self-paced and lives online and therefore you can "attend" each of the 4 sessions as many times as you like.
The 4th and final session in "Writing Wonderful Character-Driven Picture Books" is on VOICE in which you learn about character's voice and your own writer's voice, point of view, how to give your character a distinctive voice that reflects his personality, motivation, and idiosyncrasies. Lot's of info, right? And guess what? It delivers on that description!
As Marsha states, "editors (and agents) are looking for strong or fresh voice--but what does that mean?" Exactly my question. What does that mean?
The answer lies in learning your craft. Taking a class such as this is a perfect way to do that.
Sure, we are all wonderful, creative people who can write amazing stories. But there is something to be said for spending some time working on your craft. In fact, I took 2012 to focus only on craft and not on getting representation or published. It can be tedious. And you can feel like you are hearing the same info over and over again. But you know what? It does pay off.
And therefore, I urge you all. Take a class. Go to a workshop. Attend a conference. Study. Practice. There are so many opportunities out there to take advantage of. Some of them take place right in the comfort of your own home and allow you to re-visit again and again.
I will close with a quote from Marsha, "when you know the rules well, you have permission to break the rules."
The Picture Book Academy's Writing Wonderful Character-Driven Picture Books is self-paced and registration is on-going. There will also be a new session of "The Craft & Business of Writing Children's Picture Books" starting on March 11th. All information can be found at www.picturebookacademy.com.