SCBWI Midwinter De-brief: World Building and Social Networking

I attended SCBWI Midwinter’s World Building Intensive partially because I’d run out of other options: I’m not an illustrator, I’d already done the First Page Critique and I don’t need to be taught how to create a website.

At first, World Building seems to be targeted towards writers of fantasy and science fiction and I’m currently writing realistic fiction, but all books take place somewhere, and you need to think about what that world is like, even if it’s the world in which you live.

Writers of realistic fiction were in the minority, which is a shame: as I had hoped, this was applicable to all kinds of writing. By the end of the weekend (in conjunction with a push from Kate Messner), I had a complete plot summary for novel number four, along with a lot of background, and an idea about what novel number five is about. A debt of gratitude to Henry H. Neff, the leader of my critique session, for his insight and kind suggestions. If you ever have a chance to do a workshop with him, take it!

There was a fun discussion with James Dashner (The Maze Runner and Krista Marino, his editor at Delacorte Press (Random House Children’s Books). The takeaway: write down how your world works; if you’re lucky, you’ll get a prequel out of it.

For more from SCBWI Midwinter, visit the SCBWI blog.

Social Networking for Writers

Sometime during the afternoon critiques my group got to discussing social networking—the importance of tweeting and blogging to building a writing career. Everyone seems to have heard that agents and editors want to see a robust online presence (although, happily, I heard over and over again, if you have to choose between books and blogs, go books!).

I love when I can bring in information from my other, tech-writing life for use here. In Dec., I saw a great webinar about building your brand that, appropriately enough for my children’s-book life, analyzed why Neil Gaiman (and you know how I feel about him and his zombie-minions) is so effective at reaching and growing his audience, at least from a social-media perspective. If you are interested and thinking that you could use some tips (or you are a Gaiman fan), listen to this presentation, charmingly entitled “Fandom isn’t Random.”

The session, sponsored by BrightTalk, is free and runs in-browser (you don’t need to download anything). After minute 35 or so it reverts to technical communication; go ahead and exit at that point.

Buen provecho, friends!

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