The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) has released two DVDs in their Master Class series. I’ve found that people often have the misconception that writing for children is easier than for adults. It’s the opposite. Kids won’t put up with confusing or boring writing. And the shorter the book, the more every word counts, just like in poetry.
Each Master Class DVD involves an in-depth interview on a topic about writing and/or illustrating children’s books with a foremost artist in the field. So, for the topic of “On Creating the Picture Book,” illustrator & writer Tomie dePaola is interviewed. For “On Writing the Novel for Young Readers,” writer Richard Peck is interviewed.
The interviewer is SCBWI Executive Director Lin Oliver, and her professional experience as a writer herself makes listening in on her talks with dePaola and Peck fascinating. She asks questions that artists often long to ask other artists.
These DVDs are called “Master Class” for a reason, for they are in-depth interviews about craft. If you don’t already know the basic craft terminology like point-of-view and plot arc, you may find yourself confused at points. The interviews go quickly and cover a lot of ground.
For those who don’t know, Tomie dePaola has over 200 books to his credit as illustrator and/or writer. He has earned both Newbery and Caldecott Honor Awards. During the interview he and Oliver get into a wonderful discussion about how to develop and harness one’s creativity, and the dangers of ignoring a creative gift.
Richard Peck is a writer who has been awarded a Newbery Honor and Newbery Medal. He has also been the first writer for young readers given a National Humanities Medal. His interview includes an intense discussion on characterization and setting and their importance in the novel.
So if you want to write for children, I highly recommend these two DVDs.