Back and Barack

Back from a very nice weekend at the Missouri SCBWI fall conference in St. Louis. My talk on character went well (with the small caveat that I had to skip five pages because of time issues -- but there is so much to say about character that while the material was good, it wasn't essential, and the talk still hung together anyway), and the First Pages apparently went really well too, judging from the comments afterward. . . . Editors learn to edit by looking at material that isn't in perfect shape and figuring out how to help it get better, but readers (and readers who are wannabe writers) only ever see the published material, which hopefully is in perfect shape; so they don't get that same experience of reading the non-working stuff, diagnosing the problems, seeing the problem patterns recur over and over again in manuscripts, and learning how to fix them. And hence the problems continue. This is what makes First Pages so interesting and useful for writers, I think: not just that you're getting an editor saying what she really thinks, but that you're seeing the mistakes other people make as well for once.

I am not sure when the full Character talk will be posted on my website, because my webspace is so full that I will have to delete another talk before I can put that one up; but I will try to post at least the missing five pages at some point, as well as the sections of the talk relevant to the questions discussed in the comments here. All those comments were really useful to me in writing this speech, as I consciously tried to answer every question brought up, so thank you.

(This is not good clear prose I'm writing right now -- knotty nested clauses, complex compound not very clear sentences, lots of passive voice -- but I hope you will forgive me this one night. Do as I say, not as I do.)

Olivia posted this in the "Dim Bulbs" comments below: the Free Rice vocabulary quiz. If you are an English-SAT nerd like me, it's do-gooder heaven.

Oh, and this:

is awesome. My friend Jeremiah made it, and you can buy the shirt here.