Network News: North East Event

By Maureen Lynas

Skills Sharing in York 

The York North East Group met up for their very first skillshare/critique event in January and we got off to a great start with lots of chatter from illustrators and writers.

Part of the day was spent catching up with friends, meeting new ones, and finding out what people were working on. We shared general tips on the publishing industry and the trials, tribulations, and excitement of self-publishing over coffee and lunch.

Once we got down to work the writers shared their knowledge of story structures and their methods of planning the novel. Some of the group are planners, but some preferred to write and see what they got.

Here are some of the things the authors chatted about:


The three act structure. The simple beginning, middle and end structure with doorways in and out of the acts prompted by inciting incidents.

Different story structures such as the Hero’s Journey from Plotting the emotional ups and downs – what did we want the reader to feel at each stage of the book? Where were the eek’s and the ah’s and the grr’s. Did the emotions escalate or lurch?

Identifying the beats of the story - from ‘Save the Cat’ and other books on screen writing.

Planning (or re-drafting tools): 

Post it notes on a roll. A flexible way of planning and seeing the overall story.

Planning cards. Some used post it notes in the same way.

Spreadsheets – I have to say – I love my spreadsheet. I used the spreadsheet from Novel Metamorphosis by Darcy Pattinson as a starting point but soon added my own columns. It keeps me on track as a redrafting tool but I’m thinking of using it to plan the next book.

We decided on ‘writing a scene’ for our next skillshare event when we’ll be discussing: 

The goal
The stakes
The emotional arc
The beats
The pivot point

And anything else people bring along on the subject of writing a scene. Please do come along and share your skills.
And here are some of the things the illustrators chatted about:

We got a sneaky peek at Sam Zuppardi's new picture book Nobody's Perfect, and shared our current projects.

Then the laptops came out and we started to compare Photoshop techniques. We looked at how to separate line work from backgrounds and discovered we all had different methods.

You can see why this is important from this image from Katherine Lynas.

Next time we are going to focus on sharing our Photoshop skills with each other, as we only just touched the tip of the iceberg.

In the afternoon we held the first critique session of the year with some members participating and non-members observing. It was a great opportunity for them to see how we approach a critique.

Bookings are open for our March event so please do come along. We’d love to meet old friends and say hi to the new ones.
Maureen is the SCBWI BI NE co-ordinator, author of the Action Words Reading Scheme and Florence and the Meanies. She is also a member of the online poetry group

You can follow her on twitter @maureenlynas @actionwords @thefuneverse 

Or on facebook


  1. Thanks, Louise. I thought I'd replied to this earlier but it must have thought I'm a robot!

  2. Thanks, Maureen. As well as letting us know more about the Network, there are some interesting points about planning x

  3. Really like the idea of a skillshare event especially as part of a whole day of activities.


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