Eastern PA SCBWI Webinar Series: The Foundations of Story, with Eric K. Taylor


The Foundations of Story

February 1, February 15, and March 1, 2021
7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. EST

Join us for one or all three!

This webinar series is not to be missed for all children’s authors.

Monday, February 1

Part I: The Foundation of Emotion: Tension, Desire, Stakes, and Emotional High Points

We know action is central to scene. But action alone can result in what Gardner famously calls just “one damn thing after another.” Constructing situations, actions, and events in light of desires (what characters consciously and unconsciously want), stakes (what characters stand to lose if things don’t work), fears, controlling beliefs, misconceptions, and various other internal qualities makes for a richer story. Using all of this to create tension, and intersecting all of this with what Maas calls emotional “high moments,” makes our stories much richer. 

*Registration for the live webinar link closes at 5:00 a.m. the morning of the event.

Monday, February 15

Part II: The Foundation of Structure: Scene and Summary

Scene and summary are key elements of writing. Summary covers a longer period of time briefly. Summary is useful for giving background, for setting scene, for passing over time. You’ll find bits of summary sprinkled throughout a story. But the bulk of a story takes place in scene. In scene, we write about brief periods at length, where the camera zooms in close and we see what happens, real-time, blow-by-blow. Scene is where action and dialogue take place, where characters do things, where things change for the characters, where we find crises and turning points. This session explores scene and summary in more detail, examining when each is useful. And for scene, we’ll examine key elements and what’s needed to really make a scene move your story forward.

*Registration for the live webinar link closes at 5:00 a.m. the morning of the event. 

Monday, March 1

Part III: The Foundation of Opposition and Growth: Antagonists

We all want more compelling heroes. One key to developing our protagonist and requiring their growth is to create better antagonists, especially in light of your character’s inner and outer desires. This session explores why the right antagonists are critical to help make your protagonist their best self and how to design better antagonists. This includes not only hostile antagonists but also well meaning antagonists who have the character’s best interests at heart. There are even ways the hero can be their own worst enemy. We’ll consider internal and external tensions, how different types of antagonists stretch your hero in different ways, and how both emotional and practical opposition makes the character grow and change the most. A hero rarely if ever rises about the level of the antagonists.

*Series registration closes at 5:00 a.m. on Monday, March 1.

CRITIQUES: (at additional cost of $50) Submissions are due on or before Friday, February 5, 2021. For picture books, send one full manuscript plus a two- to three-sentence pitch in the same document. For CB/MG/YA, send up to 10 pages of your manuscript, plus a one-page synopsis.

Get to know your instructor: 

Eric K. Taylor is the author of Using Folktales (Cambridge) and editor of the contemporary language version of William Penn’s Some Fruits of Solitude (Herald). His adult poetry and creative nonfiction have appeared in River Teeth (“Beautiful Things” series), English Journal, Whale Road Review, Plough Quarterly, and Poetica. Children’s poems have appeared in The Caterpillar and Imperfect—Poems about Mistakes: An Anthology for Middle Schoolers. His passion is writing for children and young adults.

Eric holds an MFA in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. He has taught college-level writing, editing, and ESL; has done readings and discussions in elementary classrooms; and has led classes and workshops at AWP, StoryMakers, Eastern PA SCBWI, the New England Young Writers’ Conference at Breadloaf, the Vermont Conference on Christianity & the Arts, the Northern Pen Young Writers’ Conference, the Gove Hill Writing Retreat, and elsewhere. He has also served on the steering committee for the Vermont Conference on Christianity and the Arts. Find out more about him at ektaylorbooks.com.

For more information and to register, go to https://epa.scbwi.org/events/webinar-the-foundations-of-story/.

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