SCBWI NY: Jane Yolen’s Keynote Speech

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Jane Yolen gave the final address of the SCBWI 2010 Winter Conference. She’d been asked to make her speech “rousing”.

It was.

Here’s what she shared.

  • Even if the business of publishing is struggling, the business of storytelling is not
  • Too many of us want to be millionaires
  • Enjoy the process; don’t bellyache about what you don’t have
  • Network:
    • You’ll avoid mistakes by learning from others
    • You’ll keep current with the who/what/where of the industry
    • You’ll make many good friends in the business
    • Give back to the system
  • Learn about the publishing industry
  • Remember that writers are more than just content providers
  • Writing a book and publishing a book are two very different things
  • When you’re told to reinvent yourself and push your parameters, do it
  • Develop the ability to never give up

Then Jane shared her 20 Writing Rules:

  1. Eschew the exclamation point
  2. Go easy on adverbs
  3. Don’t let your characters float on a page
    Anchor them with action
  4. Have fun writing; if it’s agony, do something else
  5. BIC ~ Butt In Chair
    HOP ~ Heart On Page
    You may never be the best, but you can always get better
    P Not F ~ Passion, Not Fashion
  6. Don’t try what doesn’t appeal to you
  7. No one outside a fairy tale lives happily ever after
    In a meaning ending, there must be gain and loss
    Don’t look away from hard choices
  8. Fall through the words into the story
    Use words well
    Simply simple is sometimes best
  9. Not everything should be simplified
  10. Weave a tapestry of words, but use the right words
  11. It’s not the opening line, but where it leads and what it portends that matters
    Find the first line in your rewrite
    Your first line carries the DNA of the book
  12. Exercise the writing muscle every day; flabbiness is bad
  13. Every artist is either nurtured or a nurturer
    Do what you have to do to write; make the time
    The life of a full-tie artist is one of trade-offs
  14. Editors: What do we want in one?
    Truth, hard questions, timely responses and a love letter every time they correspond
    You need an editor
    Just publishing online or without an editor is not good enough
    Learn to love the process
  15. Yog’s Law: Money flows towards the author, not away from the author
    Never pay for the process, or you’ve been scammed
  16. Too many writers ignore the landscape
    Practice the art of looking, seeing
    Most of us miss the small or immobile things
    Observe carefully, take the time
    The details of the landscape must be precise, as if you’ve been to the place yourself
  17. Read aloud, even if people will think you’re crazy
    You are crazy
  18. Blocks:
    If a project is threatening to seize up, take a quick break, distract
    If that doesn’t work, write something else
    But don’t read someone else’s work
  19. There are projects you’ll never complete
    Stow them away and tell yourself it’s OK
    Moaning about it is for wimps
  20. A working writer and working illustrator do just that. They write. They illustrate. They work.
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4 thoughts on “SCBWI NY: Jane Yolen’s Keynote Speech

    uberVU - social comments said:
    February 16, 2010 at 8:49 am

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by amyknichols: Read Jane Yolen’s 20 Writing Rules (recap from #SCBWINY10) http://wp.me/pBmxU-6O #writing #kidlit…

    Lisa Nowak said:
    February 16, 2010 at 9:42 am

    You’ve done such a great job of summing up these presentations. It’s almost like being there. Thanks!

    districtfourteen said:
    February 16, 2010 at 10:49 am

    I’m still motivated from her talk. :o)

    Lynn said:
    February 19, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    Thank you for this! I had to leave before she was finished talking, I had to leave to catch my plane. Your notes are so thorough! Thank you for taking the time to blog about this!

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