Tuesday, January 29, 2013

COSCBWI January 2013: 1st Meeting & 1st Pages!

Hello all my writer and illustrator friends!

Since this is my first COSCBWI meeting summary blog post for 2013, I figured I ought to do a formal introduction to kick off the new year.  I'm the Membership Coordinator for COSCBWI and have been a member of the group since 2008.  I help out with planning events and workshops, as well as rolling out the welcome mat to members.  If you're a regular to my blog, then you know that each month I do a little summary of the COSCBWI meeting.  And if you're new around here, now you know it, too!

January's meeting featured a meet-and-greet with plenty of familiar faces and some brand new ones as well.  After everyone was introduced and some announcements were made, members could volunteer for a critique of the first page of their manuscript.  COSCBWI usually does one or two first page critiques a year.  Since I've started my monthly summaries, I've done write ups for two of these critique meetings, which you can find here and here.  I won't repeat all the helpful tidbits from these posts, but I'll add a couple of new pointers we discussed!

1)  Remember to start your story on the right foot.  If you pick up some of your favorite books, you can see what appeals to you in the first page of a story.  Is it lots of action and an interesting introduction to the characters, or a long and flowing description of what the main character is wearing down to their shoelaces?  You'd probably say the former--unless the story is about magical shoelaces that give their wearer the ability to fly like a falcon.  (Hey--now there's an idea for a novel!)  By studying the first pages of published novels, you can see what works--and perhaps, what doesn't--and apply those techniques to your own writing.

2)  Don't hesitate to ask for opinions from people you trust.  Your first page is your first impression with agents, editors, and readers, so you want it to be as perfect as possible.  An extra pair of eyes (or six pairs, or twenty) can help you catch silly mistakes before you send out a manuscript with embarrassing typos or other issues.  Your manuscript only gets one first impression, so do everything you can to ensure it's a good one!  

3)  Don't get too hung up about your first page (or first chapter) when you're just drafting your novel.  Sometimes, we writers think our story starts at a certain scene or event, but when we finish drafting the whole thing, we realize it actually starts somewhere else!  First pages don't have to be perfect on the first draft.  Just get it down, move on, and see what you think after you write, "The End."  If you allow your creativity some wiggle-room, you may come up with an even better first page than your first first page.

And that was our first meeting of 2013!  For anyone reading this who couldn't attend the meeting, here are a few announcements you missed:

-Meeting days for 2013 are moving from the usual third Wednesday of every month to the FOURTH Wednesday of every month due to a scheduling conflict with the Upper Arlington Library.  (Everyone likes the venue, so we just changed the date so we could stay put.)

-Nikki Boetger, the new Illustrator Coordinator for COSCBWI, is kick-starting monthly meetings geared towards illustrators!  (Yes, that means there will now likely be 2 COSCBWI meetings per month for anyone interested in attending!)  The first one will be February 6 at 7:00 PM at the Upper Arlington Library.  (Same place as the usual monthly meetings.)  All COSCBWI members are welcome to attend, whether you're an illustrator, author, or a little bit of both.  Hope to see you there!

-COSCBWI is one of the SCBWI chapters co-hosting the Wild Wild Midwest Conference this spring!  The conference will take place May 3-5 in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  Be sure to check the COSCBWI website for more details soon! 

-Lastly, be sure to LIKE our new Facebook page!  Reminders, announcements, and member news are updated frequently, so check us out under "Central Southern Ohio SCBWI!"

If you want to learn more about COSCBWI, be sure to check out our website here: www.coscbwi.org.  I hope to see you at our next meeting!

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