Sunday, August 3, 2014

Linda Sue Park: The How of It: Making Every Word Count

Here's a fun fact about Linda Sue Park: She once was a contestant on jeopardy. Yes, she is that smart. Which is why this room is packed and ready to soak up her brilliance.

Linda Sue has written novels, picture books, and poetry for younger readers, including A Single Shard, winner of the 2002 Newbery Medal, and the New York Times bestseller A Long Walk to Water. Lin Oliver also introduces her as adorable, fun, and full of energy.

Stealing a note from Tim Gunn (from Project Runway), Linda Sue tells us, "Don't bore the editor."

We need to make every word count. But how do we do it? By using the tools of the writer's craft.

Linda Sue shows us photos of the many illustrators tools: brushes, paints, pencils, etc.

What do writers have?


As writers, we all use the exact same tool. That's all we've got so we have to use those words to the their maximum potential.

Linda Sue speaks to those in the room who believe they have a submission-ready manuscript. When you think your work is submission ready, Linda Sue suggests putting it away. Not for hours, but for a month. Or even two.

When you pull it back out you can make it better still, but how?

Linda Sue shares many practical way to examine the words you're choosing. Here are a few:

  • Choose a scene in your manuscript that has a lot of dialogue in it. Rewrite it entirely in dialogue alone. Then go back in and reinsert only the narrative that is completely necessary. 
  • Choose a small section of your manuscript and put it all caps. Doing this can make you examine the words differently. 
  • Read your manuscript out loud. Linda Sue reads each manuscript (even novels) at least two times before she submits. Have someone read it out loud for you, especially if it's a picture book.

Words are everywhere right now. They have become one of our cheapest currencies, which makes it even more important for the words in our stories to be special.

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