Saturday, April 20, 2013

CONFERENCE 2013: Julie Just, "Page 1, Line 1"

Julie Just of Pippin Properties

Breaking News: Pippin Properties has just signed the talented Julie Just, who begins at the esteemed agency in May after finishing up at Janklow & Nesbit yesterday! Here are some bits of wisdom from Julie on story openings, from her singular experience and perspective.

She begins with the fact that kids are more distracted/stressed today than they've ever  been. Young people have access to everything, their level of stimuli is so different today. As for children's book writers, your writing faces a bit of an extra test - can you compete with what else is out there? (social media, games, etc.)

Every project she's taken on and sold, she knew from Page One. That writer was there on the first page. She says, "When I ask editors what they're looking for, they usually say "voice." Plot, mechanics, etc. can be edited. Voice can't be edited. If it's not there, you can't edit it in. Do you have what you need before you send your work out?"

Julie also cites a great nugget from the author Betsy Lerner (Forest From the Trees): "The writer has to earn the reader's trust, reader doesn't even know they're making that pact with the writer."

Julie explains that the main character's worldview should be fairly obvious up front. Psychological stakes are then raised, and the reader drawn into the story. Do you want to spend a whole book with this person?

Ex #1: multiple drafts of Ned Vizzini's opening for The Normal World.
This writer, god bless him, too NINE DRAFTS TO DISCOVER THE REAL OPENING. This is a fantastic example of a writer not giving up until he got where he needed to go.

Ex #2: Jeff Baron, I Represent Sean Rosen (March 2013 release)
Are you rooting for this narrator or not? Do you believe what he says? It needs to convince, and not bore.

And for picture books, versus novels? "I would apply the same standard to a picture book," she states.

Watch as Julie builds her list in her new job!

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