Worser and Worser; O. Henry Writing Club

Anne Bustard, author of Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story (Simon & Schuster, 2005), spoke about plot yesterday to SCBWI Austin members at Barnes & Noble Westlake.

She drew on her own experiences as a reader, writer, educator, and former children’s bookstore owner, and she highly recommended the book Immediate Fiction by Jerry Cleaver, creator of the legendary Writers’ Loft in Chicago.

Anne’s examples of children’s books that showed steadily rising opposition against the protagonist were: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst and Frindle by Andrew Clements.

She also talked about books that began with a character want (like Pig Enough by Janie Bynum and The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka) as well as books that began with a conflict (like Milo’s Hat Trick by Jon Agee and Bubba and Beau Meet The Relatives by Kathi Appelt).

Another helpful book that came up during the Q&A that followed was Story by Robert McKee. It also was noted that Immediate Fiction doesn’t particularly address subplots, but arguably the same principles could be applied to a lesser intensity.

After Anne’s talk, Greg and I stayed on for the 15th Annual O. Henry Writing Club Celebration, MC’d by Austin writer Spike Gillespie.

We were among ten local authors who each read aloud one of the winner’s entries and presented them with a signed copy of one of our own books and a collection of O. Henry’s short stories.

“My” winner was a delightful middle school girl, who has an interest in journalism and horseback riding. It was a great honor to meet her, read her work, and present her with a copy of the anthology along with my first novel, Rain Is Not My Indian Name.

About a hundred people were in attendance, and I was pleased to see adults applauding for youth writing.