Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Falling Leaves – Novels 2013

We hosted our 6th Falling Leaves Master Class Retreat November 15-17th at Silver Bay on Lake George in the Adirondacks of New York State.  This year our theme was novels and we had a record number of applicants. 
Our editors and their presentations were terrific. 

The Heart of the Matter — Kathy Dawson  
In this time when High Concept is king, what editors really want is something much deeper.  Does your novel have it?  If it does, are you conveying it clearly in your communication?  If it doesn’t, where can you start digging? In this workshop, we’ll talk about the various levels of your novels, and see what we can discover.  

Happy Hookers: Hooking Readers with your First Page – – Michelle Poploff  
Michelle will give a brief overview of what she looks for from the get go in voice/setting/details, and will read a variety of first pages from debut books she acquired. Participation and feedback is encouraged as attendees provide an elevator pitch synopsis of their work followed by reading the first page of their manuscripts.

Plot and Pace: Revising for More Emotional Payoff – Katherine Jacobs  
Rhythm and beats, cliff-hangers and red-herrings, climax and resolution—we’ll discuss all of these plot elements and more. Never write novels that are described as “quiet” but construct narratives that elicit an emotional response in your readers.

Do you know your character? Writing intensive on character development –Aubrey Poole  
A memorable character(s) is essential for a memorable book – one that will stick with your readers and demand discussion. But just how well do you know your character(s)? What secrets is he hiding? What fears or dreams motivate her? What color is her nail polish? Boxers or tighty whities? In this writing intensive we’ll use fun, creative ways to explore your character(s) from personality tests to acting techniques and more.  But you can’t stop there. A well-drawn character is just the beginning – because if he or she is the same character at the end of the novel, then you haven’t done your job. So we’ll also discuss the importance of character development and how the character arc ties into the plot. For all writers with novels in-progress.

Mythbusters: The Publishing Edition — Mallory Kass  

Do editors REALLY hate prologues? Is anything over 75,000 words an automatic deal breaker? Will publishers slay my vampire novel through the heart? What’s more valuable: 100,000 twitter followers or an MFA? Join Editor Mallory Kass as we separate fact from fiction and discuss the best ways to get your project the attention it deserves.

All were informative and well presented!

Attendees received a one-on-one crit of 20 pages from one of the editors.  

In addition,  attendees enjoyed group critiques Saturday morning and we hosted an open mic read  — Have Your Cake And Read It Too — on Saturday evening.

The Inn is always beautiful, accommodating and serene — but in November the weather can be a bit cool.  Not this year.  We had a gloriously warm weekend making it just perfect!  

Groups have already begun forming to follow up with each other  —  I love seeing how writers connect at these SCBWI retreats.  

All in all a great weekend.  Next year  — PICTURE BOOKS!  One editor already asked if she could come!