Sunday, February 12, 2017

ICYMI: Nonfiction Workshop with Mary Cronk Farrell

Last Wednesday, dozens of SCBWI-WWA writers (and illustrators!) attended a special workshop, Talking with the Dead… and Other Secrets to Writing Nonfiction for Today’s Readers, presented by award-winning author and former journalist, Mary Cronk Farrell.

Mary Cronk Farrell headshot

Mary started out by sharing an uplifting message for all of us:
“Story has made us who we are, and story can save us.”
But is nonfiction "story?" Indeed! Great nonfiction always comes from the heart, and kids often tend to seek out nonfiction specifically.

Mary shared some interesting data about how our brains our changing thanks to the internet. Whether this is good or bad can be debated, but what matters most is that we use this knowledge when we're writing in order to grab, and keep, the attention of our readers.

Mary then broke down how some of the big nonfiction award winners from 2016 succeeded in doing just that. She analyzed each of the following titles:

  • March: Book 3 by John Lewis
  • Animals by the Numbers by Steve Jenkins
  • Some Writer! by Melissa Sweet
  • Samurai Rising by Pamela S. Turner 
  • Giant Squid by Candace Fleming 
  • I Dissent by Debbie Levy

She also talked about how to research and find the necessary details to bring our stories to life, including primary source documents and interviewing people, and how to synthesize a huge pile of information down into a coherent story arc.

It's not easy, but if you're following your passion and pursuing a story that matters to you, it will ultimately be worth it--to you AND to your readers!

A huge thank you to Mary for venturing over the pass to share so much of her knowledge and expertise with us! If you haven't yet, be sure to check out some of her fabulous nonfiction titles. You won't regret it!

Pure Grit coverFannie Never Flinched coverIrena's Children coverJourney to the Top of the World cover

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