Plenary session, Martha Mihalick, editor at Greenwillow.
She looks for books with a strong voice, unusual plot and/or exciting concept. She asks, “Is it fresh?”
Encountering a book is like going on a first date . . . You don’t want the person to tell you their entire life story in the first few minutes. The opening line is the first date.
A good beginning creates expectations. There’s just enough info so that you care, but you have to keep reading in order to get your questions answered. It includes the whole story without giving anything away.
Different elements may be dominant in a work (voice, plot). Which is dominant determines the type of story.
Example: Lily books. The situations and emotions are universal, but it is told with such great specificity that it can be only Lily that it is happening to.
Your beginning is your chance to connect with readers.
Ask, have you begun in the right place?
Know what makes your story interesting and make sure that that’s in the opening.
Ground your reader while intriguing them without over-explaining.
Begin with authority.
Be specific: tell YOUR story.
What is your point of connection?
Go beneath the surface.
Ann Dee Ellis, “How to Find Your Voice, or, in the Words of a Rejection Letter, How Not to Write Like an Adult Trying Very Hard to Sound Like a Teenager”
Rule #1. Stop Worrying about:
the teenage kid you know
how bad the last sentence was
Just get lost in authentic story. Just write. Let yourself go. Readers connect to honesty and openness.
Rule #2. Know your main character. How?
put them in scenes
Rule #3. Use details. Concrete, solid.
Much more useful than current slang.
Go through ms. and trim, trim, trim. Show, not tell. Less is more.
Rule #4. Believe in yourself and have fun.