What I Learned From Kate DiCamillo by Deborah Lytton

I wish I could say that Kate DiCamillo is a close personal friend and that we have talked about books and writing over cups of tea at my favorite gluten-free, vegan cafe. But I can't.

What I can say is that Kate DiCamillo has taught me a tremendous amount about writing through her books. I study her craft as I read her stories, and I try to incorporate the lessons I have learned from her in my own work.

Ms. DiCamillo's gift of storytelling balances emotion with story so that one never overpowers the other. Keeping readers engaged can make the difference between a manuscript that finds a publishing home and one that will live forever at the bottom of a desk drawer. It is the story that makes a reader want to turn to the next page, just to see what will happen. And yet, story without emotion will fail to have a lasting impression. THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE combines moving details with a compelling story all told using beautiful spare prose. Kate DiCamillo shows us in all of her works that words can be pieced together to create art and story. In BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE, she demonstrates all of this as well as the way secondary characters need to have their own backstories and character arcs in order to balance the main character's journey.

Through her books, Kate DiCamillo has taught me many lessons about story structure, character development, and word choice, but most of all, she has taught me to keep writing. Because she continues to challenge herself to create new and inventive stories that touch the heart and make lasting impressions on all her readers, young and old.