Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Words from Margaret Peterson Haddix

MARGARET PETERSON HADDIX is the author of more than twenty books for children and teens, including the Shadow Children series and the newly launched Missing series. Her books have won numerous state readers choice awards and the International Reading Association' s Children' s Book Award.

Dig In

Growing up she always ended up doing things the hard way: proving to 2 older brothers… that she was just as good, or better. Do we have FEAR as children? We are FEARLESS as children.

Approaching writing is much the same. Ask questions:

What is safe enough? How much risk?

Danger? Depict realistically. Use REAL life experiences. (White water rafting)…. “dig in”

Focus – this is what really matters RIGHT NOW…

What are my characters focused on? What are they doing?

Surprises: Johnny One note? – commentary is original? Important… what is your character trying to do? What is their motivation ? Think deeply about what makes them deeper than paper dolls? When all of your characters are alike, then there is no room for character advancement or development. recalls childhood of Betsy McCall Dolls.

Does it make a difference which character makes a comment, say the dialogue? Know your character’s better. Good example given was the movie The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

What words in your mind will make you “try your hardest” to get your message across? Purist, simplest motives. Innocence.

Entering contests helps because of “deadlines” and strengthens skill and motivates, amasses a body of work. Even rejections can be seeds for other stories.

focus of life – deadlines and “distractions”..

“Just Ella”


Writing is like falling in love.

Anticipating a 15 ½ year old that is learning to drive getting on the road for the first time…

Kids are changeable as they LEARN their new skills – adaptable, always evolving

Dramatic changes – tougher for adults than it is for kids/teenagers.

We have 20 – 30 years of experiences to draw from.

More concerned about loves and hates from one minute to the next.

Hang out with kids to get inspirations… watch kids play… play games… na├»ve

What reminds you of being a child…. Journals, diary’s, artifacts?

You will go in the direction that you are looking!!! FOCUS

Flashes of Awe – Dig in – Inspiration for writing.

Transcribed from notes taken 8/1/08 at the SCBWI conference - afternoon session - by Suzanne Gibson

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