Sunday, February 11, 2024

Creative Lab: The Jump Start: Playful and Practical Strategies for Breathing Life into the Characters in Your Idling or Abandoned Novel-In-Progress with Phil Bildner

Phil Bildner is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous books for young people including the NCTE Charlotte Huck Award Honor-winning middle grade novel, A High Five for Glenn Burke, the Margaret Wise Brown Prize-winning picture book, Marvelous Cornelius, and the Texas Bluebonnet Award-winning picture book Shoeless Joe & Black Betsy. Phil is also the author of A Whole New Ballgame, Rookie of the Year, Tournament of Champions, and Most Valuable Players in the critically acclaimed middle grade Rip & Red series. His other picture books include Martina & Chrissie, Twenty-One Elephants, The Soccer Fence, and his latest is the biography, Glenn Burke, Game Changer

Phil Bildner presenting the Creative Lab: The Jump Start

This creative lab is packed with stories and both paired, team, and individual craft exercises!

The first exercise from author Laurel Snyder, "Pockets" - we're asked to make a bullet point list of what's in our pockets right now. (We do this on index cards.)

Then, we trade index cards with someone else-- and we're told to take two of the items they wrote down, and then we're using them as prompts, answering these two questions:

1) Why does this person/character have these items?

2) How can/will these items move the plot/story forward?

There are so many things you can learn about your characters (and YOU) by inventorying what's in someone's pockets--and why.

There's a real reason the person has those items, you can create an invented reason, and as a third option you can hybridize the two... Phil tells us "so much of writing is experimentation."

Folks around the room share different items that were in their pockets: mini tabasco bottles, rocks, a mailbox key, grains of sand, a candy wrapper, three different lip glosses... 

As Phil explains, you'll looking for that entry point, a connecting point to your own story.

The room is packed, everyone's engaged, and inspiration and insights are flowing...

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