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By Sara Karnish

A longtime friend of GLVWG, Job Gibbs will be presenting three sessions at the 2023 Write Stuff Conference: “The Three C’s of Conflict: Part 1,” “The Three C’s of Conflict: Part 2,” and “The Funny Pages.” Here is a complete conference schedule.

Writer bio:

Born in England, Jon Gibbs now lives in New Jersey, where he was Author-in-Residence at Georgian Court University from 2012 to 2017.

Jon is the founder of:

His middle grade fantasy, Fur-Face, was nominated for a Crystal Kite Award. Originally published by Echelon Press in 2010, the second edition was released in November 2022. The sequel, Barnum’s Revenge, was published by Echelon Press in 2013. The second edition is due out this year.

Jon’s latest book, Abraham Lincoln Stole My Homework, is due out this year.

When he’s not chasing around after his children, Jon can usually be found hunched over the computer in his basement office. One day he hopes to figure out how to switch it on.

Contact him at admin@jongibbs.org.

Q: One of your sessions is called ‘The Funny Pages.’ What will we learn during this session?

JG: We’ll be looking at how humor comes in many forms, and how we can use it in lots of different ways, whether it’s to lighten the mood after a shocking or stressful scene, or show us a little backstory, or even to make us like a character we aren’t supposed to – Think the Sherriff of Nottingham in Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Q: Humor is difficult to achieve in writing. What are a few key elements to ‘writing funny’?

JG: I think we all have slightly different ideas as to what counts as funny, but when it comes to using it in a book or story, I’d say the most important thing is that whoever’s writing it finds it funny. Also, consistency is important. Humor is part of our personality. If a story character switches between self-deprecating humor and one-liners to snarky jokes and sarcasm without any obvious reason, it can be jarring (at least, it is for me as a reader).   

Q: Can you give us a sneak preview of your ‘3 Cs of Conflict’ 2-part sessions?

JG: Using examples from books and movies, we’ll be looking at some of the many ways to insert conflict in a story, and how we can use it to do more than just provide an obstacle for our characters to overcome. We’ll also be looking at examples from attendees’ current works-in-progress to see how we can ramp up the conflict while also helping to move the character/story arc along. 

Q: What does conflict add to a piece of fiction?

JG: Conflict certainly isn’t everything, but without it, any story (and most of real life) would be pretty boring. It doesn’t all have to be car chases and brawling; in fact, most conflict is pretty subtle, but if it’s not there, readers soon start flipping ahead a few pages, or worse, simply put the book down.  

Q: You write middle-grade fiction. What are some must-haves for writing middle-grade?

JG: Usually, the main character has to be middle-grade age. Adults can help solve the story problem, but they can’t be the driving force behind it. Aside from that, I’d say the must-haves are the same as any other fiction. Characters the reader cares about, good story, etc. 

Q: How is writing middle-grade different than writing for adults?

JG: There are some basic differences, most of which are common sense. The official age range for middle-grade readers is between 8 and 12, so there’s an awful lot of scope for the type of story you can tell (as well as in how you tell it). Across the board, though, really bad language, sex, etc., are definite no-nos. 

Book-length tends to be a lot shorter – usually between 20K and 50k words. If there is a romantic interest, it’s subtle – think Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger in the first few Harry Potter books.