I thought I would post about Mary Kole’s 90 minute –Intensive Picture Book Craft Webinar that I took recently. Wow! No wonder a number of people were interested to know how it went. Mary Kole joined the Andrea Brown Literary Agency in 2009, earned her MFA in Creative Writing at University of San Francisco, and runs the East office from Brooklyn New York. My first impression of the Webinar was that Mary certainly knew her craft, was well spoken, and the 90 minutes was jammed packed with information. Worth every cent of what I had paid for. On top of that, there was a visual slide screen for those of us who love visual aids and on ending the webinar there was also a PDF of Questions and Answers which also showed a little of her humours side, but always one is imminently aware of her acute knowledge, and attention to detail.
Although Mary constantly reminded us not to take notes, I couldn’t help myself, there was just so much to take in. I am sure she could sense me writing….lol. From the onset in Picture book Layout/Structure we learn what should be happening in each page or two such as spreads four to eight should be showing at least two attempts to solve the conflict and making it worse before final solving. In Resolution page it must be strong, think funny, reversal, etc… and what final image would look like. Think of transition points also. Avoid clichés. Concept books, cool idea drives the story, but tough to sell, especially for debut writers. Next we went into Tension, Page Turners and Characters. A good point here is to think of how to engineer those page turns… i.e. pause, suspense, interruption etc. With Characters, keep cast small and think composition, make them genuine, each unique. Some other great ideas for thought came out of this area for me. For those into Poetic and Rhyme, it must be sophisticated. Keep it consistent. If you know what the next rhyme is, then it’s boring. The message I got here was, practice read and learn, and practice read and learn. Don’t break a pattern unless a very good reason to, it draws attention. Onto Voice and Language, most of which I had heard before, but was really enforced, such as keeping language simple and sentences short. We also looked at Universal appeal and Multi hooks, keep your characters fresh, and always ask the “so what?” question. Again I hear that life issues, humour, family, education and peer pressure are on the increase. Mary was very thorough, and towards the end we visited “How to Pitch and Query,” being brief, professional and don’t apologise for not having written anything before, we all have to start somewhere. (I felt relief in knowing my bio will be very short, but acceptable). Through each segment there were examples and lists for us to think about. Finishing up with reading a few picture books, and one from our famed New Zealand author, Margaret Mayhe. With each Mary referred to some points we should take notice of, what makes this book sing, and what made that text work. Finally Mary offered a critique.
I enjoyed this webinar very much; it was intensive, thorough, and full of information. Because it came through my real player I was able to stop and start, even replay little segments as it went along if I wished. The books she read were on view also. Best of all we are able to keep the replay and PDF file.
Next up on the 25th October is an MG and YA Intensive Webinar….. count me in! I hope you will join me, it will be very worthwhile.