Editor Emma D. Dryden on Character Choice, World Building and More

Apr 15, 2019 | Novels

Editor Emma D. Dryden, leader of our workshop Filling the Writer’s Toolbox, is one of the most renowned editors in children’s book publishing. After spending 25 years as editor and publisher of Margaret K. McElderry Books and Atheneum Books for Young Readers, she founded drydenbks, a premiere children’s editorial & publishing consultancy firm.

If you want to make your manuscript as good as it can be, Emma is the one who can help you do it! In case you can’t make it to the workshop, we’ve gathered some articles from Emma’s blog to give you some guidance.

Successful World-Building
Successful and compelling story world building–whether fantasy, sci-fi, or the familiar here and now contemporary–relies solely on an author figuring out how to see with their character’s eyes, taste with their character’s tongue, hear with their character’s ears, touch with their character’s fingers, and feel with their character’s senses. Only when we figure out what and how a character perceives and feels when his or her lens is placed over the world can that world be brought into sharp, specific focus. Read more.

7 Attributes of Elite Writers & Illustrators
These 7 factors are pertinent and applicable to the creative process and to the publishing process. Take a look:

1. Have a Clear Purpose and Vision

2. See Adversity as Only an Obstacle

3. Accept Failing as a Learning Tool

4. Know What You Can or Cannot Control

5. Develop Thoughts and Beliefs that Match Your Values and Goals
Read more.

Experiencing Stories with All of Your Senses
Why do I suggest authors hand write their manuscripts? To immerse as many senses at once in the creation of a story: Hand writing engages the hands and touch; hand writing engages the ears (the sound of a pencil or pen crossing paper is a form of background music that can’t be created in any other way); hand writing engages the eyes. If one is writing with scented pens, hand writing can even engage the sense of smell. Lest you think I’m being flip, there is a distinctive smell of pencil on paper, the smell of certain inks and pens is distinctive, and the smell of eraser is distinctive, too–and these can certainly add to the overall immersive sensory experience of hand writing. Read more.

Making Choices for Your Characters
I’ve recently been talking and guest-posting about the importance of ensuring our protagonists evolve and grow through the choices and decisions they make throughout the course of their stories. Whether these choices and decisions are compelled by something awful (the protagonist up against a threat with no apparent choice) or by something terrific (the protagonist seeing the means to achieve and go for their goal), it’s the choices and decisions our protagonists make that go into defining who they are, add solidity to what they’re made of, and instill a drive to face new things when they think they’ve faced everything they can possibly face. Read more.

Thank you to our faculty for this Guest Post!

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