Monday, March 23, 2009
How Lucky Are We?
We live in a wonderfully literary community here in the Charlottesville area. Once a year, for the past fifteen years, the Virginia Festival of the Book has been held right at our doorstep. Attending requires no more effort than child care arrangements and a drive downtown.
After we got some coffee and browsed the book fair in the lobby of the Omni Charlottesville, Alison, Sarah, Steph and I attended the Great Beginnings session. It was the most efficiently run first pages panel I've seen. Middle grade author Fran Cannon Slayton read the first page of each of a dozen or more manuscripts. Then Fran and her fellow Moseley Writers Andy Straka, Deborah Prum, and Jennifer Elvgren offered comments. The pace of the session moved quickly with short readings and concise feedback. The tone of the feedback was honest, but gently encouraging. Their advice: avoid clunky construction, create a well-depicted character with a strong voice, add some quirkiness and humor, foreshadow, and throw in some conflict.
After the session the Slushbusters met up with Ellen Braaf, Mid-Atlantic Regional Advisor of SCBWI. We chose a favorite local spot for lunch and talked about critique groups. Naturally.
The afternoon was just as busy as the morning, and we'll post more about it as the week goes on.