Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Craft Coaching: Intensives


Opposite your Pitch Perfect Session, you may pre-register to attend ONE of the following Craft Intensives from our award-winning SCBWI-IL PAL faculty “coaches”:


Sherri Duskey Rinker

Patricia Toht

Jasmine Warga


The Journey To My First MG Novel
a Novel Craft intensive featuring Sherri Duskey Rinker (135 minutes with a break)


Sherri will discuss her process for her upcoming Revver the Speedway Squirrel (Bloomsbury: September 8, 2020), moving from the language of a chapter book (its initial format) through to the final product of her MG novel and planning out the sequel. Among the points Sherri will discuss:

—editing process with examples of comments from her editor

—the wide variety of MG novel scopes discussed within the context of some examples and popular fan-favorites

—the importance of understanding your work-in-progress’ audience — age, maturity, language, vocabulary and sentence structure

—recommend reference material to assist in novel writing.


Participant Preparation: 


Bring in 1-2 pages of your own MG manuscript.  As a writer, consider your intended audience.  Write a paragraph, or a few lines, giving us a sense of age/grade of your perceived target audience, and let us know what other books that target audience may love, have read, etc. (i.e. humor lover, animal lover, has enjoyed Magic Treehouse series, etc.).  Attach this paragraph to your 1-2 page sample.
—Sherri will read the submissions aloud and, as a group, will discuss: Are we hooked by those first couple of pages? Are we getting a sense of story arc, even in those first paragraphs? Does the language feel appropriate for the audience? Does the sentence structure feel appropriate? What about the theme — is it age-appropriate, or presented in an age-appropriate way?


Dummies, and Page Turns, and Art Notes — Oh, My!
a Picture Book Craft Intensive featuring Patricia Toht (135 minutes with a break)

You’ve found a fantastic idea. You’ve brainstormed that first, sloppy copy. You’ve revised, shared with critique partners, sketched, word-smithed and word-slashed. What else can you do to perfect that project? Bring a manuscript or dummy with you, and learn how to use these visual tools and more to make your story SHINE!


Participant Preparation: Bring a manuscript or dummy with you that you would like to work on during this intensive session.


Finding The Heart Of Your Story
a Novel Craft intensive featuring Jasmine Warga (135 minutes with a break)


Jasmine will discuss in detail her writing process for Other Words For Home, which involved completely re-writing the book, including switching it from prose to verse. Points Jasmine will discuss include:


—about how writing every book is a process of teasing out the questions the book is asking (Jasmine will discuss how to identify those questions, and how those questions shape the overall narrative arc of the book)

—knowing your characters inside and out—how falling in love with your characters and their quirks is what brings out the heart of your novel

—trusting the editing process to be messy—how sometimes you have to write the book the wrong way before you can write it the right way

—letting your art take the time it needs (ie writing is rewriting)


Participant Preparation: Bring a journal that you can jot down ideas and notes. We will do different exercises that will help us to better develop characters from your current manuscript, and figure out their narrative questions.