Wednesday, November 11, 2015

SCBWI in the Rheinland

Creators of children's literature, both illustrators and authors, came together in North Rhine-Westphalia in October and November. We met in Düsseldorf on November 7th at Kaffee Uhlenbusch for a second session on catching up and writing together. We used flash cards to develop the plot of our stories working with the scene and sequel technique. (For more information on this technique, see references below.) Responding to the dilemma of fellow writers from our previous meeting, Laurel brought this particular exercise to help keep the story engine humming.

In October, the group met in the shadow of the awesome Kölner Dom in the restaurant cafe Ludwig im Museum of the Museum Ludwig where we worked on the backstory of our characters. Again, thanks again to Laurel, our flash cards were labeled and laid out to explore what was standing in the way of our characters, making that critical distinction between want and need. Not exclusively helpful to just writers, these exercises were also kickstarters for our illustrators in attendance. (For more information on the backstory technique, see below.)

As anticipated, we each left our gatherings with renewed energy and ideas and the sense of connection to a community. Not wanting to stall this momentum in any way, we've already set dates for the next four meetings for 2016 aiming to meet every other month. Do mark your calendars now, but please check the SCBWI Germany & Austria blog and Facebook page to confirm these dates and still to be determined locations.

30 January
12 March
14 May
17 September

In addition to Cologne and Düsseldorf, we are looking into meeting in Aachen, Bonn and Münster. If you'd like to nominate a location somewhere in Germany's most populous federal state, we welcome hearing from you.

Ideas are also in the works for a nautical scrawl crawl in the way of a riverboat cruise on the romantic Rhein. Among our other ambitions we'd like to look into inviting a published author to workshop or talk with us as well as coordinate NRW's participation at the Frankfurt Book Fair next year. The likelihood of these initiatives and activities taking place will go up exponentially depending on feedback. So even if you can't commit to attending, signaling your interest and potential participation will encourage us to do our research, set dates and make reservations. Our email addresses are below, we are on Facebook, or leave a comment.

As Laurel originally set out to do, we are hoping to find and connect with all children's book writers and illustrators in North Rhine-Westphalia. We also welcome participation from those interested living in other states and countries and look forward to meeting at a SCBWI event in 2016.

- Laurel Decher and Jane Joo Park

Resources for the scene and sequel technique:
Dwight Swain's TECHNIQUES OF A SELLING WRITER as explained by Randy Ingermanson


Resources for the backstory tool:
THE NEGATIVE TRAIT THESAURUS by Angela Acker and Becca Puglisi
The “Reverse Backstory Tool” appears in Appendix B.

One Stop for Writers website:
A new site that I haven’t fully explored by the authors. I didn’t find the Reverse Backstory Tool there, but it looks like writers can look through character traits and much more.


  1. This sounds like it was great! I feel like I need to move north!

  2. I don't know if you still need it, but the Reverse Backstory Tool can be found here:

    Sorry, just seeing this now. Thanks so much for the mentions, and happy writing! :)

  3. Thanks for stopping by, Angela! And keep up the great work!