Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

The Why Behind It All: Character and Story Development Through Answering Tough Questions with Jess Rinker

Date(s) - 08/03/2022
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm


The Why Behind It All: Character and Story Development Through Answering Tough Questions

90 minute Webinar

Wednesday August 3, 2022, 6.30PM Eastern/5:30 PM Central/4:30 PM Mountain/3:30 PM Pacific

  • SCBWI Members: $15
  • Non-members: $25

Optional Written Critique from Jess Rinker following live webinar (First page, Query, Middle grade, YA, and chapter books)

  • First page and Query critique: $25  
  • Manuscript critique (up to 10 pages): $70


Your protagonist’s desires drive the story, while their misbelief complicates the journey. These internal conflicts create the plot. And take it from this former pantser–you need a plot! But figuring out this underlying “third rail” takes patience, work and a lot of insight. Often writers are private, introverted folks who don’t get out a lot, but a huge part of writing is understanding how people tick and WHY they do or say anything. And the key to storytelling is understanding why your main character does what she does. You must psychoanalyze her! Join me in discussion, tips and exercises on ways to mine these important details from our characters, and how the question WHY can help you settle on your protagonists wants, desires, fears, and more in order to craft a heartfelt story.

About the presenter:

 Jess Rinker is the author of several books for young readers including picture book biographies and middle grade fiction. Titles include Gloria Takes a Stand, a biography of feminist icon Gloria Steinem, Send a Girl!: The True Story of How Women Joined the FDNY and middle grade novels The Dare Sisters and The Dare Sisters: Shipwrecked!, a continuation of the heartfelt and adventurous story of Frankie, Savannah, and Jolene Dare as they search for Blackbeard’s treasure. She’s also the author of Out of Time: Lost on the Titanic and the forthcoming middle grade novel The Hike to Home, due out July, 2022.

Jess has a BA in Social Welfare and an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She also teaches in Sierra Nevada University’s MFA program in the Writing for Children and Young Adults track, and adjuncts at her local community college.

She currently lives in the gorgeous mountains of West Virginia with her husband, Joe McGee, who is also a children’s author. 

To register, fill out the form below. SCBWI members MUST be logged in to get the discounted rate. Registration for the webinar and critiques will close on August 1, 2022.

International members only: If our payment system isn’t processing your credit card or PayPal payment, email to request an alternate method of payment. Please include your name and address in your request.

A recording of the webinar will be available for 30 days after the live event. The recording will be for registered attendees only, so if you can’t make the live event, you can register to view the recording.

Access information for the live webinar will be sent on the morning of the webinar and access information for the recording will be sent out the following day. Those who purchase critiques will receive submission instructions via email on the day after the live webinar.

NOTE: Please do not sign up for coveted and limited critique slots if you are unable to make the deadlines outlined. We will be unable to issue refunds for missed deadlines.