Saturday, July 30, 2016

Carole Boston Weatherford: The Power Of Premise

Carole Boston Weatherford giving her keynote

Carole Boston Weatherford is an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author of over forty books, mostly for young people. Her books have won two NAACP Image Awards, two Caldecott Honors, and a Coretta Scott King Award. Her best-known titles include Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom; Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement; Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-ins; and Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America. Her latest release is You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen, a collaboration with her son, debut illustrator Jeffery Weatherford. She is an English professor at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina. Visit

Lin's introduction includes calling Carole "a national treasure… She's an historian, she's a story-teller."

Carole jumped right in to share that:

"The premise may be the most important 25 words you write."

Whether you call it an elevator pitch, log line, or T.V. guide pitch, the aim is the same - to distill your storyline to one easily understood sentence that conveys what the protagonist has to overcome. The premise is a promise your manuscript will deliver on.

Brief. Provokative. Contains character, conflict, and a hook that you and your readers can be passionate about, and reveals something about the larger world.

She shared premises of different children's books (picture books through YA, fiction and nonfiction) to see if we, the audience, can guess the book - showing us what good premises accomplish.

Carole then told us about the organic way she came up with the premises for some of her books, how those premises shifted and developed and coalesced. Books she spoke about included:

Freedom on the Menu

A Negro League Scrapbook



We heard poems, and stories, and as Carole's whole talk proved,

"There is power in knowing your premise."

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