Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Craft: Its What's Important

"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

Have you ever left a workshop or a conference only to look at your notes and realize that there was just too much information and your notes are meager?  Although this is a sign of an excellent, jam-packed can be frustrating to feel like you somehow missed something. 

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 


  1. I completely agree! That is also why it's so important to keep old stories. It's amazing how much a difference one year can make.

  2. You're amazing, Marcie. Determined and persevering. Can't wait for your books. Thanks for sharing about my class.

  3. I have spent the past couple of weeks looking at my bank account and this course and wondering. I think you may have swayed me.

  4. Same here. As soon as I don't have to worry about eating, I'm taking this course!

  5. You are dead right about taking a course, Marcie. I will definitely get around to this one. I'm presently in the middle of Susanna Hill's Picture Book Magic. I'm learning the value of planning. I never thought I'd say these words - but it actually helps!! Who knew??

  6. Thanks for letting us know this course is worth the money. There are so many choices out there, I haven't narrowed it down to which online course to take this year. I'll keep your comments in mind.

  7. I've signed up to take "The Craft & Business..." course and I'm very excited! This is a terrific review for the Character-Driven Picture Book course; thank you.