Peg366's Blog

Carol Gorman and Laura Arnold/Possible Mistakes. Part Two.

Posted on: May 6, 2010


Carol Gorman, author of 40 books for readers from first grade to adulthood, and Laura Arnold, editor at Harper Collins Children’s Books, shared the podium as presenters at Iowa’s Spring SCBWI Conference.  Their presentation was titled:  Avoiding the Pitfalls: An Editor and Writer Discuss Common Mistakes and How to Fix Them.

Laura Arnold

As I listened I realized that I personally may have had made at least one or two of the mistakes from the list they shared.

Over the next two days, I’ll be sharing the common mistakes they see.

1.     Sometimes a writer can overwrite, which can particularly be true when writing picture books.. Writers want to compose outstanding prose yet there is a time to stop and move their novel/story on.

2.     Sometimes a writer uses the wrong word, like shuddered vs. shuttered.  In some cases the word they use make no sense like this sentence. Their example was: My liquid eyes poured.  Poured where? How could eyes be liquid?

3.     Another common mistake the two listed was the use of too many adjectives or adverbs. I don’t know about anyone else but I have been guilty of this one more than once. Their suggestion was if a writer is using 3 adjective to describe an item, then the writer should just use one adjective, preferably the most powerful adjective in the group.

4.     The mistake they talked about next seemed obvious to me when they explained it.  Their example sentence was  As she walked across the street, she got into her car. This one is pretty simple. She can’t get in the car as she walked across the street. After mayve, but not as.

5.     Both Carol and Laura stressed the folly of this next mistake. It had to do with having all the characters sound the same. Their point is who wants to hear the same thing the same way from all the characters. Instead a writer should strive to make each character in their work be unique.

6.     Often Carol and Laura read submissions where kids don’t sound or act like real kids do. Real kids speak in fragments. They use contractions. As a writer, you want your characters to be real.

7.      This next mistake is one I made more when I first started writing than I do now. According to the presenters, it is a mistake to use a verb, the same verb that is, throughout a whole story. For example the word “looked” can be glimpsed, glared,peered, or searched. It makes the story more interesting to read if the writer switches verbs once in a while.


2 Responses to "Carol Gorman and Laura Arnold/Possible Mistakes. Part Two."

Wow Peg! What a great synopsis of the SCBWI Iowa conference. Thank you!.


Thanks for the sweet comment. I have more that should appear in the next couple of days.

Are you getting something ready to send to Allyn?


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I am an aspiring picturebook writer with some magazine credits just no picture book contract yet. I know it is coming and I am more than willing to work for it.

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July 2009

May 2010
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My Favorites:

I love the children's movies Wizard of Oz and the Neverending Story. Both movies make me feel the lesson that hope is alive and well. After seeing UP this past week, it just might have a chance at being added to this list.

I love the cool colors of blues and purples.Those colors are peaceful for me.

I love The Velveteen Rabbit. Even as an adult, I still feel the urge to cry when he becomes real. I know, silly, but a good book can make me laugh and cry as it takes me on a magical journey.

Authors and Illustrators:

Authors, Author/Illustrator, Illustrators that I know and/or Like.


C= Children

MG= Mid Grade

T= Teen

YA= Young Adult

A= Adult


Bonnie Adamson *

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Tedd Arnold


Natalie Babbit

Molly Bang

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Jan and Stan Berenstain

Judy Blume

Tracey M. Cox

Linda Crotta Brennan *

Jan Brett

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Eric Carle

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Denise Fleming

Mem Fox

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Amy Heist

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Jeff Kinney

Jackie French Koller

Ursula K. LeGuin

Leo Lionni

Lois Lowry

Mercer Mayer

Robert Munsch

Laura Numeroff

Linda Sue Parks

Dav Pilkey

Patricia Polacco

Peggy Rathmann

Bethany Roberts

David Shannon

Aaron Shepard

Donna J. Shepherd *

Cynthia Leitich Smith

Jerry Spinelli

Diane Stanley

Chris Van Allsburg

Rick Walton *

Lisa Wheeler

Mo Willems

Karma Wilson *

Audrey Woods

Jane Yolen *

Favorite Websites:

Favorite Blogs:

• ShelfTalker: A Children’s Bookseller’s Blog
• Alice’s CWIM Blog
• A Fuse #8 Production
• Cynsations
• Nathan Bransford – Literary Agent
• Editorial Anonymous
• Miss Snark’s First Victim
• Writing for children and teens

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