Craft Talk with Joanna Ho: Digging Deep to Find Fresh Words

Photo from IG Live conversation on 12/17/20

The #1 NYT bestselling author and lyrical guru Joanna Ho lets us peek into her mind and learn how to dig deep to find fresh, poignant words! Joanna reveals how the unique heart of your story is often buried under layers of cliches.

Some of my favorite nuggets of wisdom from this conversation:
💜Ask yourself: What am I trying to say? What am I *really* trying to say?
💜Get your first thoughts out on the page or surface it in your mind, then give yourself permission to wrestle and cycle through layers of meaning until you find the words underneath
💜Move from your initial intention (e.g. eliciting Disney princesses) to evoking that feeling with nuanced language; avoid stopping with language that’s too on the nose
💜Ask yourself “why” on repeat to uncover truth, then PLAY! Watch Joanna describe moving from the impact of racism > internalized messages in media > bullying about eye shape > standing up for oneself > strength, power and beauty > final language: “My lashes curve like the swords of warriors…”
💜Lyrical writing is NOT flowery writing; sometimes the simplest, most straightforward words are the most powerful

Thank you, thank you @joannahowrites for sharing your time and expertise. You help me recognize how beautiful language is born from a brave, true core. The closer we stick to that heartbeat, the more evocative our stories will be.

For quick reference, here are the books discussed in today’s talk:
EYES THAT KISS IN THE CORNER by @joannahowrites, illustrated by @dunghanhhao
PLAYING AT THE BORDER: A STORY OF YO-YO MA by @joannahowrites, illustrated by @teresamtzjun
HOW TO READ A BOOK by @kwamealexander, illustrated by @melissasweetillustrator
THE DAY YOU BEGIN by @jacqueline_woodson, illustrated by @rafael_161
DRUM DREAM GIRL by @engle.margarita, illustrated by @rafael_161
THE PROUDEST BLUE by @ibtihajmuhammad, illustrated by @metahatem
ALL BECAUSE YOU MATTER by @tamiwrites, illustrated by @bryancollier7

(Conversation held on December 17, 2020 on IG Live @carolinepritchardwrites)

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