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Meet Briana Woods-Conklin and read an excerpt from her unpublished middle-grade manuscript Breaking All the Rules.
Why do you write for children?
I write for children because those are the books that I loved most. My middle school reading years transformed me into a lover of books, and while at a young age I quickly moved onto adult literature, no other literature has impacted me in quite the same ways as the books I read during my elementary and middle school years. Children’s books allowed me to become a reader and lover of the written word. My heart remains with these books, and I really hope to make another child feel that very same excitement, identification, and desire for more literature through my own writing.
What’s the most challenging part of crafting a story?
The most challenging part of crafting a story is developing a sustainable conflict that keeps readers interested and moves the plot forward. The overarching conflict propels almost all of the character’s actions while simultaneously drawing the reader into the story. Basic ideas – ideas for characters, situations, moments – come easily, but developing the idea, complicating it and drawing it out to create and carry the larger conflict is what I find to be the hardest. Sustainable conflicts are so essential to a good story, and while you don’t want a conflict to be too boring or too easily solved, you likewise have to make sure that it does not fall outside the protagonist’s real capability.
How does your writing offer something new to the children’s literature world?
As adults, I think the deep emotional lives of children can at times be easy to dismiss or discount. But children do have deep emotions that are often complex, insightful, and sincere. The everyday occurrences and problems that are sometimes not thought of as material for a good story are most often the things I write about. In a world that focuses so much on the projection of images and always being ‘entertained’, as an author, I think I try to look at the internal life of a child and give words to emotions that might be hard to state, but easy to identify with. I think my writing offers a look at the human condition through the eyes of a child while still providing the reader with an interesting, and sometimes humorous, story.
Briana Woods-Conklin will receive her MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons College in May 2013. She attended Fairfield University where she graduated as valedictorian with a BA in English/Creative Writing in 2010. Briana works at a publishing company in Boston, MA. She currently lives in Brookline, MA and is working on a new novel.