Giving and Receiving: SCBWI Japan Creative Exchange

January 21, 2017

Posted by Melissa Uchiyama

We sat. Fifteen of us, admiring and offering words of feedback to the authors and illustrators represented in our Japan chapter Saturday evening, January 21st. This was my first time being present and taking part in this aspect of SCBWI, despite the fact that Creative Exchange events take place three times a year.

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While addressing one author's draft, the group discussed how we manage multiple characters. Space can be limited within children's books, an author attested, that if creating multiple characters, we must make sure each character is necessary and that they each have a clear voice. We continued to discuss this story and others, citing the importance of spending time on the characters, and moving through backstory and scenes in a way that pushes the reader through action, not staying too much on backstory.

Something impressive was that several participants brought other similar books into the feedback process, either supplying the physical book or suggesting the writer or author look to a specifically named book for an example or strategy at reaching their goal.

When examining our illustrators' work, particularly a science-based book showcasing aquatic scenes, the group wondered about visual language and schematics of looking at pages as a double spread. Illustrators, much like authors, must answer the question, 'Does it have us turning pages?"

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Many of us seemed to be in the process of answering the question of, "Who will read this?" Certainly, the answer dictates the specific language and colors our overall vision. For writers, our readers and market will dictate how much we say and how much we leave for illustrations.

What a lucky thing to have the minds, experience, and imagination of gifted artists, in words and picture, among us, right here in Tokyo. Now that I have wet my feet, I'll certainly continue to attend SCBWI Japan Creative Exchange events. Now for editing!