writing

Using Psychological Principles to Plot Your Characters

by Brooke McIntyre

Author Jessica Bayliss worked as a psychologist for years before beginning to write in her spare time. As her writing projects grew into novels, she discovered that the same principles she used as a therapist helped her more deeply understand her characters. At the May Professional Series, Bayliss explained the core model she uses as a psychologist, and how writers can use that model to write more believable characters.

Our stories include both an action plot–what is happening in the character’s external world– and an emotional plot–what is happening to the character internally. The Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) model relates the two. In the CBT model, a character has thoughts about their particular situation. Their thoughts generate emotions. Their emotions, in turn, drive behavior.

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What Writers Need to Know to Survive with Quressa Robinson

by Brooke McIntyre

Literary agent Quressa Robinson emphasized grit and endurance as top skills needed by writers throughout their careers, as she gave the Professional Series lecture for January. Robinson came to agenting after five years as an editor at Macmillan, where she acquired adult fiction titles. Now at Nelson Literary Agency, she represents authors of young adult and adult fiction. Working with writers as both editor and agent has taught Robinson that “publishing is 99 percent rejection.”
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Agents’ Panel 2017

The November 2017 Agents Panel, an annual event sponsored jointly by SCBWI-Metro NY and The New School’s creative writing department, featured three literary agents responding to questions about the author-agent relationship.

Panelists Molly O’Neill of Root Literary, Carrie Pestritto of Prospect Agency, and Brooks Sherman of Janklow & Nesbit discussed how writers can, as Sherman put it, “negotiate their transformation from artist into small-business owner.” The panel was moderated by SCBWI-Metro NY volunteer Adria Quinones.
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Nick Bruel: How Did the Dog Find Out?

Nick_Bruel_WPby Judy Shemtob

Nick Bruel, author and illustrator of the Bad Kitty picture book series, advised SCBWI-Westchester attendees to be curious, compassionate, and brave at his Nov. 4th workshop, “The Three Things Necessary to Write a Story.” He treated participants to a Saturday afternoon of creating their own characters, cartoons, and stories as he brought out everyone’s creative self.

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Truffles, Tardigrades, Meteorites and Museums: Nonfiction with Jessie Hartland

by Annie Ruygt

Author and illustrator Jessie Hartland, the October speaker in the Metro NY Professional Lecture Series, often writes about icons: Steve Jobs: A Graphic Biography and Bon Appétít: The Delicious Life of Julia Child are two of her recent titles. Her bright, playful illustrations have a following that transcends the normal age bracket for picture books. What people don’t see is the months, sometimes years, of research Hartland pours into each book.

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Be the Hero of Your Writing Process with Kendra Levin

by Leah Heilman Schanke

Kendra Levin, Executive Editor at Viking Children’s Books, author of The Hero Is You, and the September speaker in the SCBWI-Metro NY Professional lecture series, shared how writers can use the hero’s journey model to create a “holistic, healthy, creative writing process.” Many writers struggle with process and experience dark moments where they wonder, “Why am I writing this?” Levin said. “Writers need to find ways to work organically and be their best selves.”
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First Pages with Agent Saba Sulaiman and Editor Kate Prosswimmer

by G. Myrthil

SCBWI Metro’s On-the-Road series returned to the First Baptist Church of White Plains, NY on Saturday, May 13, for a positive and informative First Pages workshop. Saba Sulaiman, literary agent at Talcott Notch Literary, and Kate Prosswimmer, associate editor at Sourcebooks, teamed up to critique a dozen or so first pages, ranging from picture books to YA, chosen at random from audience members’ submissions. Saba and Kate were lucky—all the first pages were really strong. Yet they still had helpful feedback and advice to share.

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The Top Ten Things to Look for Before You Hire a Freelance Editor

by Annina Luck Wildermuth

You’ve completed a draft of your book and want professional help with taking it to the next level. Plenty of freelance editors provide this service, but how do you know who is right for you? Sangeeta Mehta and Maya Rock presented a concise overview of the “freelance editing ecosystem” on June 14 for the last Tuesday Professional Series before Summer break.

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Opening Lines With Richard Peck

Originally Published: June 2014

by Lauren Shapiro

It feels a bit like a revivalist tent show, as Richard Peck preaches the gospel that “you’re only as good as your opening line. Our readers do not read reviews or catalog copy and do not use the internet for examining publishers offerings. Our sales are the first lines. Is there a perfect opening line, yes, but it’s been used,” he says, with perfect timing.

“The first line needs to be a grenade. The story has to begin before you start. The story is already going, pulling out of the station and the reader runs to get on board. Do not begin little did I know when I woke up that morning or we were walking up the stairs when, or it was a little town where nothing ever happened. Francine Prose’sAfter doesn’t start with gunfire; it starts after the gunfire. E. B. White’s matchless first line of Charlotte’s Web is “Where’s Papa going with that axe?”  You don’t give your readers time to think on the first page.” (more…)