Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tony DiTerlizzi

What I learned from Tony DiTerlizzi at the SCBWI 2012 Summer Conference. I intend not to write out all of Tony's lessons but rather to paraphrase, not only because Tony gets paid to share his wisdom, but because I add my own thoughts and voice to the notes I take. So this is Tony and me.

When writing and/or illustrating, draw and write for yourself, but don't lose sight of the target audience. Is this for the 8 to 12 year-old group? Then channel your  inner middle-grader. And stay consistent. Explore the idea, work out the theme, outline and sketch. He recommended storyboarding and stressed the importance of character development. Tony works with sketches and writing at the same time, each informing the other. But while working on the book, always keep in mind the end result - the book! It all has to come together.

Tony talked about the power of myth and the role of the archetype in stories. For instance, the role of the guide - Obi Wan, Dumbledore, Gandalf... but be careful to not get caught up in cliches.

Tony likes to assign himself homework. For instance, read a certain book by a certain date.

When making a portfolio, manuscript, or book dummy, Tony recommends that you TELL YOUR OWN STORY. Even a story of fiction must come from what is you. I'll be writing more about telling your own story and finding your voice in later posts.

Books that Tony recommends (with trepidation, as there are always reasons to break rules): The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, by Vogler. 20 Master Plots: And How to Build Them by Tobias. The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell.

[edit] I also wanted to note that I had been reading Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth, and Art by Lewis Hyde. It's not an easy read but with some patience it has some really deep insights. I've always been interested in the trickster archetype - Coyote, Raven, Loki, Hermes, Monkey - and how they propel change and growth by throwing a wrench into the works.

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