The VCFA Sticky Toffy Pudding Take-Away

I’ve made it back from my second VCFA residency!

I’m exhausted, inspired, in love with my class, and ready to dig in to a new semester of writing. Overflowing with insight and inspiration, I’m hoping the acclimation process (back to “normal” life) is slow and tender. In the meantime, I thought I’d share a few quick take-away’s from the last eleven days of stick-toffy-pudding-VCFA-Awesomeness!

1. Never let your character’s cry more than once in a manuscript! If you do, you’re being too sentimental and force feeding your audience sticky-toffy-pudding (which is just too sweet).

2. Writing a picture book is not just about the text. You must leave room for the illustrator, but you must also leave room for the performer!

3. When writing multi-cultural literature, beware of perpetuating the one story that speaks for a culture. There is never a single story that encapsulates a whole group of people.

4. Trust your readers to pick up on the clues and details you leave for them. Trust your audiences ability to intuit.

5. Learn to hesitate, question the nature of things, and be the writer who creates riddles out of answers. Sometimes the questioning, the searching, and the ability to see things a-new is more the profound than finding an answer.

6. It’s not always about “show not tell.” Sometimes, careful and informed telling can deepen the showing.

7. Beware the abstract word. Be specific and vivid. “Beautiful” is abstract and means nothing. We want a world with pearl buttons, spiced rum, and creased wax paper.

8. The metaphorical is sexy! Discover the action of your story by finding the metaphor for the emotional core of your story.

9. The landscape of your story is not just place and earth and dirt. The landscape of your story is overlain with memory, expectation, and thought.

10. There are lots of not-so-good books that get published. The reason they are published is because the author FINISHED THE BOOK! You can talk all you want about writing, but until you finish your book, your writing will never get published.

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14 Responses to “The VCFA Sticky Toffy Pudding Take-Away”

  1. chris tugeau says:

    this is VERY helpful to writers and artist …thanks for sharing!

  2. I want to simply say ‘beautiful’ Ingrid, but instead I’ll say: concise, accurate, spot-on, illuminating, great reminder. Thanks for posting.

  3. All great reminders! And I love the sticky toffee pudding comparison.

  4. Laura says:

    Welcome back Ingrid! Thanks for the great advice. About the ‘showing vs telling,’ I couldn’t agree more–telling helps the reader understand the character if used sparingly and strategically. (Not sure I agree about the crying though…)

  5. Just stopping by to tell you again that I look forward to your posts, Ingrid. Write on!

  6. Lorri Phillips says:

    Fantastic information. See you in LA

  7. moti says:

    Very useful, nice to read it :)

  8. Shelby says:

    Wonderfully stated, Ingrid! I’m just going to rely on you to summarize all of the residencies.

  9. Very useful information. Thanks for sharing. It’s great to be filled with inspiration for writing.

  10. Mary P. says:

    You are so smart and succinct! I am still in processing mode (when I should be well into packet mode, ack!). Great post!

  11. […] The VFCA Sticky Toffy Pudding Takeaway (Ingrid’s Notes) – I stand firmly by “Never let your character’s cry more than once in a manuscripts!” […]

  12. Kristen says:

    Glad you’re back in town! Looking forward to hearing all about it — and seeing you at SCBWI:-)

  13. Deb says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this! Enjoy LA… And you are looking good in pink!!

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