Friday, August 3, 2018

Daniel José Older Gives The Opening Keynote

Daniel José Older

Daniel José Older is the award-winning author of both young adult and adult books. His books include Star Wars: Last Shot (Del Ray, 2018) and the forthcoming historical fantasy Dactyl Hill Squad. His first middle grade book will be published by Scholastic in September 2018. His New York Times best-selling young adult novel, Shadowshaper (Scholastic), was a New York Times Best Book of the Year and has been optioned by Tony-winning actress Anika Noni Rose. Daniel’s other books include the Bone Street Rumba novels, including Midnight Taxi Tango and Half-Resurrection Blues (Penguin). He is the winner of the International Latino Book Award, and has been nominated for the Kirkus Prize, the Locus and World Fantasy Awards, and the Andre Norton Award.


Daniel wins over the audience of 1,182 — including playing a music video for us, The Killers' "Mr. Brightside," which you can watch here (240 million+ views!):

And then, he launches into a master class, breaking down how the song holds lessons for all of us telling stories for children and teens. Lessons of plot, structure, voice.

Daniel breaks down the opening lines:

"Coming out of my cage, and I've been doing just fine.
Gotta gotta be down because I want it all."

The unreliable narrator.
The sarcasm and irony.
How these two lines do the two things every beginning of our stories has to do:

1) set up the character's sense of humanity so we care about them

2) set up what the character wants or needs

A good beginning makes a promise and raises a question.

"The rhythm of words and how they tumble against each other..."

And it's all there in those two lines.

There's so much more Daniel shares, about the middle "the bow and arrow is the physicality of tension", and the end, and crisis (Greek word: krísis), and leaving room for the reader to make their own conclusions.

It's brilliant, and subversive, insightful, and energetic, and so inspiring. (And dang, with a record f-bomb count.)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing, Lee! Great opening advice. Saw Daniel at Comic-Con 2018, and he's so awesome! Got an ARC for Dactyl Hill Squad, so reading it now. Wish I could be there with all of you, but in spirit!