Each year I truck up to Brasstown, North Carolina to teach Creating Picture Books at the John C. Campbell Folk School. I tend to teach this class in the Fall or near the Fireside Sale (which is an awesome annual craft fair). It makes for a lovely time of year to be in the mountains.
This is the view out each side of our writing studio - early in the morning with the frost still burning off the fields...
My time there was made even lovelier by a great group of students all ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work on their stories. And boy do we work! We attack the stories from every angle. We cut, we rearrange, we examine and reform. I'm often shocked at the radical changes the manuscripts make over the weekend.
It can be hard work, but a positive and fun group of people can make it all worth while. Here they are - from left to right, back row first: Lynda M. who travelled all the way from Pennsylvania; Celia L.; Cathy W.; Teri D.; (front row) me; Christie R.; and Robert "Bob" L.
They're holding up their mini-dummies, in which they illustrate the key components of their stories: 1.) the presentation of the problem or goal; 2.) the facing or escalation of obstacles; 3.) the climax; 4.) and the resolution.
It's amazing how clear the challenges become when approaching stories in this way - it lends a visual element of "see, this is where the story is working great" or "this is where the story needs some work."
They all did a fabulous job. And who knows, maybe a few of these stories will reach the hands of eager readers one day. I sure hope so!