Friday, August 7, 2009

INGRID LAW, "Creating a Strange Voice in a Namby-Pamby, Willy-Nilly Way"

INGRID LAW, "Creating a Strange Voice in a Namby-Pamby, Silly-Nilly Way"

Another packed panel session, this time with Newbery Honor ("Savvy") novelist Ingrid Law. SHe had a fantastic handout called "Ingrid's Voice Toolkit" that conference goers found incredibly helpful. Some highlights for you:

Books she recommends include:
-- "Spunk & Bite: A Writer's Guide to Punchier, More Engaging Language & Style" by Arthur Plotnik, Random House Reference, 2005
-- "DARE - Dictionary of American Regional English"
-- "Rhyming Dictionary" (
-- "Idiom Dictionary" (

When it comes to using the dictionary, she stresses that "You should never use a thesaurus randomly or without cross-referencing in the dictionary." She lists an example such as, "Her bangs were uneven." What other words could you do to elevate this sentence? She also adds, "Better yet... find a way to SHOW the reader the bangs are uneven before simply picking a different word."

Other handout highlights included samples of long, lyrical sentences in kid's lit versus short and quirky sentences, repetition, similes and metaphors, etc. 

Pictured above is also a fun writing exercise Ingrid have everyone do - she listed a setting (apartment), two characters (young and old woman), and the action of a woman dropping her groceries. She had everyone write a scene using those plot points and trying to employ a unique voice to it.

Overall, a very thorough and meticulous lecture that inspired conference goers with new tools to use to improve their writing and create a unique voice and point of view.

Plus, she had a cake for us to eat with the words SCBWI on it!


  1. Wow, sad I missed that one! Thanks for the info!

  2. Hi Jess. Glad you could at least get a hint of her panel then! She is such a talented writer and very warm and sweet in person. Hopefully you'll get a chance to catch her at a future event. I hope you enjoyed this year's conference.