Saturday, February 2, 2013

Julie Scheina: Senior Editor, Little Brown

Julie Scheina is a senior editor at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Little Brown publishes around 135 books a year.

What Hooks Me is such a broad topic, so Julie plans to talk about four common aspects of the books she loves: voice, character, world building, plot and pace.


Voice is the hardest to pin down.  Many vaguely say, "I know it when I see it." Julie likens it to knowing when an instrument is in tune. Great books can reach beyond genre through a great voice.
The one-on-one connection a reader has with the voice is key.

Examples of a picture book and novel with great voice:

Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake by Michael B. Kaplan 

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl


Introducing memorable characters, ones that will stick in your mind, is key to a great book.
A character's personality should not be flat, or one note. A character shouldn't be perfect. Great characters are unique and special in some way. They're not cliche.

A great character is one we like to talk and think about.

Examples of memorable characters:

 Isabelle in Fortune's Magic Farm.

Fortune's Magic Farm by Suzanne Selfors

Violet from Iron Hearted Violet.

Iron Hearted Violet by Kelly Barnhill

World Building

The world tells us what the character's life is like. Some of these worlds become like another character in the story.

Some questions that should be asked about your world: Why are we here? Is it necessary? What makes it unique? How does the character's view interact with the world?

A few of Julie's favorite world building authors/books:

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

Fathomless by Jackson Pearce

The Golden Compass by Phillip Pulman

Plot and Pacing

So once you have all these things, then what? Plot shows how your characters are tested. The key is balancing conflict and development, and the pace needs to move along at a reasonable clip.

A great question to ask yourself about each page of your book: What happens here, and does it need to?

Bitter End by Jennifer Brown

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

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