HUMANITAS Executive Director Cathleen Young Supports Children's Literature


cathleen-young-mainHUMANITAS Executive Director Cathleen Young is lending her support to a webinar exploring editing, especially as it pertains to children's literature.

"HUMANITAS exists to promote rich, complex, good stories. But without an an engaged audience, stories are meaningless." Young continued, "It is important for children to develop a love of literature at a young age, because if they don't love books by the time they're ten, they frequently never do."

Harold Underdown, recognized children's book editor and the author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books, will lead the webinar, "Editing Without an Editor," along with his colleague Eileen Robinson, who will run the accompanying "chat box" and participate in the Q & A. He agrees with Young that engaging children in reading is of the utmost importance. He is adamant that kids, "need to be helped to learn to read in a way that lets them feel like they control the process (and often they do), and then once they do know how to read, not put in situations that will discourage them from reading." He continues, "Kids love to read and get excited about it in ways that many adults do not. If we let them choose their own books to read and provide them with a wide variety of options, they won’t lose that."

Underdown has been working in children's literature for over 25 years both as an in-house and independent editor. He has dedicated his career to the field because he feels strongly that, "children deserve the best—stories that don’t just entertain, don’t just enlighten, don’t just inform or inspire, but that do all of those." Underdown continues, "Children’s book writers have a challenging task. Not only do they have to write great stories, but they are doing that for children, not for other adults. And it’s an inherently more difficult task to write for a non-peer, without condescending, or over-explaining, or under-explaining, or otherwise not writing directly TO the child reader."

Underdown will address this very issue in the upcoming webinar. As an expert in the field, he feels, "kidlit writers often need years to develop the craft, and need help along the way. We try to provide that help through Kid’s Book Revisions."

The webinar will focus on revision because Underdown feels it is the most important part of the writing process, "Through it all, I’ve learned that revision IS writing. Though no two books are alike in the process they go through, ALL books are the result of a manuscript that started as a rough draft and then evolved to become something better, sometimes over the course of years and many drafts."

In a preview of what one might accomplish in the webinar, Underdown offers the advice to writers that, "regardless of their situation...the revision process is not a mysterious process. One starts by working on the big-picture problems, and gradually works through them." After the writer has tackled the major structural questions, he or she can eventually focus attention at, "the paragraph and sentence level." He continues that a writer must understand, "that there are lots of different revision techniques out in the wild that can be brought to bear in different situations." Finally, Underdown says, Kid's Book Revisions encourages writers, "to build connections to other writers for support generally and for help from critique groups and beta readers."

The webinar promises to be a well-rounded intensive focused on revision. Both Young and Underdown are thrilled at the prospect of the new, engaging children's literature that will be polished in this webinar.

For more information about the webinar, and to enroll, visit Kids Book Revisions:

See the press release detailing the webinar below:

Editing Without an Editor Webinar

October-November 2014

Dates: Evenings, October 30, November 6, 13, and 20. "Bonus track" discussion session: December 4

Workshop fee: $125; $99 for SCBWI members or early bird discount through October 1

Limited to 100 live participants

Do you have a manuscript--picture book, novel, or nonfiction--that needs work? Do you wish you could learn techniques that would help you revise not only this manuscript, but future ones?

Children's book writers keep hearing today that it's essential to submit only their best and most polished work to busy editors and agents. More and more, writers are turning to independent editors and writing coaches to help them do that. We do that kind of work ourselves, but we want you to know that many times, you can do that work yourself, and never need editorial help, or only at the very end of the process.

That's why we first created the "Editing without an Editor" one-day workshop, which we also have given as a condensed 3-hour intensive and built out into the framework of our 4- or 5-day Revision Retreat at the Highlights Foundation. Whenever we've announced one of these events, people have asked for us to Skype it or create an online version. Here it is! Just like the workshop, this webinar will teach you the basics of editing yourself, on your own or with the help of others, and give you the confidence and knowledge you need to continue to learn and use self-editing methods.

In the first session, to give you a framework, we compare "reader response" theory and the literary criticism approach, and explore how to use reader response with manuscripts. In the second session, we move to getting feedback from other people, using critique groups and beta readers, and discuss methods for making critique groups work better. In the third session we cover and try out "big-picture" revision techniques to use to find and fix problems in plot, characterization, or pacing. In the fourth session, we move on to "tight focus," detailed editing, working on your own or with a partner as you put the final polish on a manuscript.

This particular webinar format shows "slides" and a live video of the presenter. You can join in via a text chat box. There will be plenty of handouts, we will give "homework," and we plan to involve participants as much as possible in the sessions.

In a special "Bonus Track" session to be held after Thanksgiving, we will gather to answer questions, share some of the work that participants did, and give practical examples of some techniques in use.

UncategorizedJosh Neimark