Author Margaret Peterson Haddix spoke at the 2008 SCBWI LA conference. The following bits of wisdom were mentioned in her keynote speech:
- “Dig In” – Focus on this now.
- What makes your character’s dig in?
- “Why” why are your characters doing what they are doing?
A Bit about Voice…
- Character’s Voice – see if you can switch a line from one character to another and see if you know who is who or if they are interchangeable.
- Give characters distinct voices.
What Stories are Worth Telling?
- What stories do you have that are worth the effort to tell? Peterson Haddix referenced the movie “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” where the author had to dictate through blinking his eye the entire text of his book. What’s worth that effort for you?
Remember Being a Kid…
- Use your childhood journal (if you have one) to remind you of what it was like back then.
- Try something new to remind you what it feels like – kids are always experiencing things for the first time. It can be scary.
Where Do You Want to Go?
- “You will go in the direction you are looking.”
Margaret Peterson Haddix has written more than 25 books for kids and teens, including Running Out of Time; Don’t You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey; Leaving Fishers; Just Ella; Turnabout; Takeoffs and Landings; The Girl with 500 Middle Names; Because of Anya; Escape from Memory; Say What?; The House on the Gulf; Double Identity; Dexter the Tough; Uprising; Palace of Mirrors; Claim to Fame; the Shadow Children series; and the Missing series. She also wrote Into the Gauntlet, the tenth book in the 39 Clues series. Her books have been honored with New York Times bestseller status, the International Reading Association’s Children’s Book Award; American Library Association Best Book and Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers notations; and more than a dozen state reader’s choice awards.