Oct 08

Make Your Children’s Writing Website Focused – 3 Must-Haves, 6 Tips

Tips on optimizing your websiteIs your site on the mark?

As we get caught up in our writing careers sometimes it’s easy to forget to remain focused.

That’s a no-no! It’s important to present a focused brand and site.

Okay, so what are three website must-haves and six tips?

The Must-Haves

1. Create a website using your own name.

As a writer, whether you’re co-writing with someone or not, you need your own website. And, your main (hub) site should have your name in it. This will be your central site linking off to your other related sites.

As an example, my children’s writing site is: Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi.

Now, with this title I have two essential elements covered: (1) my name, (2) the site’s keyword.

The visitor and search engines can quickly determine what the site is about. This is super important for website ranking and authority. While there are a number of other areas that need your keyword for website optimization, the title is one of the top ones.

Note: In this case, when I say “title,” I mean the URL also. Your URL is an optimization tool. It gives the search engines more information the site.

So, using my site above, the URL is http://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com

My site’s title and its URL both have the always-important keywords in them. This is focus.

2. Include the niche you write in as part of your URL and website title.

This was touched on in number one above. If you write in only one niche, say children’s historical fantasy, you should have that keyword in the title of your site, as well as in the domain name. Then you can have one site to list all your books. Just be sure to create separate pages for each book.

Tip: It’s really a much better idea to create a separate website for each book, in addition to your central author site. It allows you to create multiple must-have pages for each book. See number 4 in the tips below.

HOT TIP: If your title is too long, it’s better to use the niche keyword, say ‘children’s historical fantasy,’ and omit your name. Unless you’re Eric Carle, or Kevin Henkes, or James Patterson, you’re name has no search engine value.

3. If you are branding yourself as a children’s writer, keep your site specific to writing for children.

I originally had a problem with this. I ventured into a number of writing arenas including content writing and online marketing. Instead of keeping those areas separate, I brought them into my children’s writing site.

So, why is this a mistake? Well, because of dilution of expertise.

If you’re branding yourself as a children’s writer, the focus of your site must be children’s writing. If you promote yourself as ‘doing this, that, and the other thing,’ you’ll become known as the ‘jack of all trades and master of none,’ – dilution of expertise.

TIP: If you’re also involved in other writing arenas as I am, create a separate sites for promoting yourself as an expert in those areas. You wouldn’t want to have your steamy romance books listed on your children’s writing site.

Remember, whatever your site’s niche is, keep it focused on that niche.

6 TIPS for a Better Website/Blog

1. Always have an about page on each of your sites, include a short bio and photo.

2. Always have an opt-in box (for your mailing list) readily visible on your sites.

3. Always make sure your visitors can easily find how to contact you – a contact page is a good idea.

4. Have a page for reviews of your books, excerpts of your books, testimonials, illustrations, awards, etc. You can also link to interviews others have done about you and your books. (This is where a separate site for each book comes in handy.)

5. Offer a resources and/or tools page. The visitor will appreciate this and hopefully share your site with others and link back to it.

6. Get a book trailer or video on your site. Mix it up. People love visuals.

Using these tips will help you create a focused and reader/search engine optimized children’s writing website.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

What Makes a Good Story? Plot Driven vs. Character Driven
Editing a Children’s Book – 10 Tips Checklist for Authors
Submitting Your Manuscript – 8 Tips

NEED HELP WITH YOUR CHILDREN’S MANUSCRIPT / STORY?

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn you story into a publishable and saleable book.

Shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice @gmai . com (please put Children’s Writing Help in the Subject line)

 

Sep 28

Days End Lullaby Video Book Review

Children's bedtime storyThanks to Amy Robbins-Wilson, creator of Lullaby Link, Day’s End Lullaby is now in a video.

Amy did a Google search for “lullaby” and came upon my book. She contacted me and offered to include my book as a review video on her site. But, she didn’t stop there, she offered to create a video of the lullaby on YouTube!

Well, Amy kept her word and provided me with links to both the review video on her site, and the video of the lullaby on YouTube.
Please check out these two videos and let me know what you think:

Day’s End Lullaby Singing Book Review Video:
http://www.lullaby-link.com/days-end-lullaby.html

Day’s End Lullaby YouTube Video – Entire song sung by Amy Robbins-Wilson
CLICK HERE!

This children’s bedtime picture book has the sheet music to the lullaby included as an added feature at the back of the book.

You can get your own copy of “Day’s End Lullaby” at:
http://www.amazon.com/Days-End-Lullaby-Karen-Cioffi/dp/1419691570/ref=sr_1_1

Sep 21

What Makes a Good Fiction Story? Plot Driven vs. Character Driven

Writing fictionStories can be plot driven or character driven, so which is the best formula to use when writing a story? Knowing a little about both methods should help in making a decision.

Plot Driven Story

A story’s plot moves the story forward, from point A to point B. It doesn’t necessarily have to be in a straight line; in fact a course that twists and turns is much better. This type of plot creates movement and interest. It’s the twists and turns that will keep the forward momentum fresh, as well as creates anticipation. Anticipation will hold a reader’s attention.

The plot also provides reasons and explanations for the occurrences in the story, as well as offers conflict and obstacles that the protagonist must overcome to hopefully create growth. These elements create a connection with the reader. It entices the reader to keep turning the pages. Without a plot it is difficult to create growth and movement for the protagonist. It might be comparable to looking at a still photo. It might be a beautiful photo and may even conjure up emotions in the viewer, but how long do you think it would hold a reader’s attention?

Along with this, the plot molds the protagonist. It causes growth and movement in the character. Assume you have a timid woman who through circumstances, the plot, transforms into a brave, strong, forceful hero. Where would the story be without the events that lead this timid woman to move past herself and into a new existence?

Character Driven Story

On the other hand, a character driven story creates a bond between the protagonist and reader. It is the development and growth of the character, the character’s personal journey, which motivates the reader to connect. There doesn’t need to be twists and turns, or fire works. The reader becomes involved with the character and this is all the enticement the reader needs to keep reading.

In addition to this, the character works hand in hand with the plot to move the story forward. As the character begins her transformation the plot moves in the same direction.

In some instances, such as short stories, a character driven story can work amazingly well, such as in The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin. In cases such as this, the connection developed between the character and the reader can be more than enough to satisfy the reader. But, all in all, it seems to be the combined efforts of a well plotted and character driven story that works the best.

The Best of Both Worlds

According to science fiction and fantasy writer, L.E. Modesitt, Jr., “The best fiction should be an intertwined blend of character, plot, setting, and style.” I agree; all elements of a story working together create stories that will be remembered.

All the aspects of a story should complement each other, should move each other forward to a satisfying conclusion, and should draw the reader in. If you have an action packed plot driven story, but it lacks believable and sympathetic characters, you’re story will be lacking. The same holds true if you have a believable and sympathetic character, but the story lacks movement, it will usually also fall short. As with all things in life balance is necessary, the same holds true when writing a story.

MORE ON WRITING FICTION

Submitting Your Manuscript – 8 Tips
Become an Author – 5 Basic Rules
Being a Writer – Learn the Craft of Writing

NEED HELP WITH YOUR CHILDREN’S MANUSCRIPT / STORY?

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn you story into a publishable and saleable book.

Shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice @gmail.com (please put Children’s Writing Help in the Subject line).

Like this article? Please share it!

Sep 14

Editing a Children’s Book – 10 Tips Checklist for Authors

Children's writing self-editing tipsYou’ve been working on your story for a while now and you think it’s just about done. It’s been critiqued numerous times and you revised it numerous times. Now, it’s time for editing. This entails proofreading and self-editing. You don’t want to short-change yourself on the last stretch, so get ready to put the final layers of polish on your manuscript.

While this article is geared toward children’s writers, it has information for just about all writers.

Here are 10 tips you can use to help fine-tune your children’s manuscript:

1. Check for Clarity

Check each sentence for clarity. It’s important to remember that you may know what you intend to convey, but your readers may not. It’d be a good idea to have someone else read the manuscript for you. This is where a good critique group comes in handy.

2. Check for “Telling” and lackluster sentences

Check each sentence for telling. While you will need some effective telling, you want to have more showing.

Example: Joe hit his head and was dazed.
Alternative: Joe banged his head against the tree. He wobbled a moment and fell to the ground.

Show, don’t tell. Use your imagination and picture your character going through motions—maybe he’s turning his lip up, or he’s cocking his head. Try to visualize it; this will help in showing rather than telling.

A good way to add more showing is to add more sensory details. Use the five senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste) to create a living character; this will help breathe life into your story.

Example: Joe felt cold.
Alternative: A chill ran through Joe’s body.

Example: Joe was frightened.
Alternative: Joe’s breath stopped. Goosebumps made the hair on his arms stand at attention.

3. Watch for head hopping

Checking for head hopping is especially important for children’s writers since their stories should be told from the protagonist’s point of view or perspective.

If the story is being told from your main character’s point of view (POV) make sure it stays there.

If my POV character Joe is sad and wearing a frown, it wouldn’t be advisable to say: Noticing his sad face Fran immediately knew Joe was distraught. This is bringing Fran’s POV into the picture.

You might say: Joe knew Fran would immediately notice his despair; they were friends for so long.

Or, you can just use dialogue: “Joe, what’s wrong?”

4. Watch for story consistency, conflict, clarity, and flow

Checking for consistency, conflict, clarity, and flow is another must for all writers of fiction. If you’re a children’s writer it’s even more important. Children need a structured story that’s consistent. The story also needs to provide conflict and action to keep the child engaged, along with clarity to help with comprehension. It should also flow smoothly with one paragraph, chapter moving seamlessly into the next.

5. Use spell-check

Make sure you write with spell-check on or use your word processor’s spell-check when you’re finished with your manuscript. I like writing with it on.

Just be careful here because while spell-check will catch misspelled words it won’t catch words that are spelled correct, but are the incorrect word in regard to meaning.

Example: He was to tired.
Correct: He was too tired.

These words are called homonyms and spell-check will not catch them.

A homonym is a word that sounds like another word, but is spelled different and has a different meaning. Examples of homonyms are: hare/here/hair; bare/bear/; stationary/stationery; peek/peak; principle/principal; capital/capitol; compliments/complements; cite/site/sight.

6. Use the FIND function on your word processor

This is a great tool to check for “ly” words, “ing” words, weak verbs, and over used words such as “was.”

7. Watch for redundancy

Check the story for repeated phrasing and even paragraph beginnings. You don’t want several paragraphs in a row beginning with “the” or other repetitive wording. When editing your manuscript use the Find function in your word program and look for overused words.

Another aspect of redundancy is using unnecessary words.

Example: Sit down on the chair.
The word ‘down’ is redundant; ‘sit’ implies down.

Example: She whispered quietly.
The word ‘whispered’ is redundant.

8. Check for tight writing

In today’s market, tight writing is important—readers have a shorter attention span. So, get rid of unnecessary words and text.

Example: Joe had a really hard time lifting the very heavy and big trunk.
Alternative: Joe struggled to lift the huge trunk.

Also, watch for words such as “began” and “started.”

Example: He began to lift the trunk.
Alternative: He lifted the trunk.

9. Check for punctuation and grammar

There are a number of great books and even online articles that will help you learn proper punctuation and grammar. Two books that I use are: The Frugal Editor by Carolyn Howard Johnson and The Great Grammar Book by Marsha Sramek.

You can also do a Google search.

10. Take illustrations into account

When writing a picture book you need to allow for illustrations. Picture books are a marriage between content and illustrations—a 50/50 deal. So, watch for text that an illustration can handle. With picture books your content doesn’t have to describe every little detail—the illustrations will embellish the story.

Well, this completes the 10 tips, but please know that self-editing is a tricky business and this is not an all inclusive list. Even knowing all the obstacles to watch out for, self-editing is still tricky. It’s almost impossible for us writers to catch all our own errors; we’re much too close to our work. We know every nook and cranny of the story and that makes it difficult to read it in a fresh manner. Even if we think we’re reading every word, our mind is way ahead of us, that’s why it’s advisable to look into hiring an editor.

NEED HELP WITH YOUR CHILDREN’S MANUSCRIPT / STORY?

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn you story into a publishable and saleable book.

Shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com (please put ‘Children’s Writing Help’ in the Subject line)

MORE ON WRITING

Become an Author – 5 Basic Rules
Submitting Your Manuscript – 8 Tips
Characters or Story – Which Comes First?

This article was originally published by Karen Cioffi at:
http://www.writersonthemove.com/2011/08/self-editing-10-tips-checklist-for.html

Sep 07

Submitting Your Manuscript – 8 Tips

Publishing children's writingWriting is a personal experience. Each writer faces his or her own obstacles and processes. But, one common aspect of writing is it always starts with an idea. You may take that idea and turn it into an outline. You then take your outline and sprinkle it with letters and words and watch it grow. Words turn into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, and paragraphs into chapters. The journey can take months and even years. But, the love of writing, the love of your story, and the hope of publication keep you dedicated.

The writing journey can take months and even years. But, the love of writing, the love of your story, and the hope of publication keep you dedicated.

Time passes, and finally the day arrives – your manuscript is complete. The envelopes are ready. All you have to do is submit, submit, and submit again. But, hold on a minute. Have you gone over all the necessary steps to ensure your manuscript is actually ready to be submitted to a publisher or agent?

There are eight steps that every writer, especially those new to the business of writing, should follow before submitting a manuscript:

1.    Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. Then self-edit your story until it’s the best you can do.

2.    Make sure you belong to a critique group in your genre. Submit your ms for critique.

3.    Revise your story again taking into account the critiques you received. Here you want to use common sense in regard to which critiques you listen to. If all your critique group members tell you a particular section of your children’s story is age inappropriate, listen. If one member tells you he/she doesn’t like the protagonist’s name, use your own discretion.

4.    Resubmit the manuscript to the critique group again. See if you’ve revised or removed all the problem areas.

5.    Proofread and self-edit the manuscript until you think it’s perfect.

6.    Print the manuscript and check it again. You’ll be surprised at the different types of errors that will be found in this format. You should use a colored pen or pencil for these corrections so they’ll be easy to spot later on.

7.    Now, it’s time for the final corrections. Give it another go over.

8.    Have your manuscript professionally edited.

If you’re questioning why you need to have your manuscript professionally edited after going to the trouble of having it critiqued and worked on it meticulously and endlessly, the answer is simple: An author and a critique group are not a match for the expert eyes of a professional editor.

Did you and your critique group catch all the punctuation errors? How about knowing when or if it is permissible to use quotation marks outside of dialogue? Do you know about the Find function on your word program to check for over used words, such as was and very. What about ellipsis dots, or the over use of adjectives and adverbs? This is just the tip of the iceberg. Isn’t it understandable why it’s important to take that extra step, and yes, expense, to have your manuscript edited. If you’re undecided, ask the professional writers you know if they recommend it. You can also ask if they could recommend a qualified and affordable editor.

The powers that be, editors, agents, reviewers, and publishers, all know the difference between a professionally edited manuscript and one that is not. Every house needs a solid foundation, right? Getting your manuscript professional edited is the same thing – it will provide a solid foundation. The number of authors seeking publishers and/or agents is staggering. Yet, the number of publishers and agents is limited. Give your manuscript every advantage possible. One of those advantages is having it professionally edited. It can be the deciding factor in whether your manuscript makes it to the editor’s ‘to read’ pile or the trash pile.

Children's ghostwriterLet me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter and rewriter. I can turn your story into a publishable book that you’ll be proud to be author of.

Shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com (please put Children’s Writing Help in the Subject line). Or, you can give me a call at 834—347—6700

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Being a Writer – Learn the Craft of Writing
Critiques are Essential for Writers
5 Must-Know Tips on Writing a Powerful Thriller (and most other fiction stories)

Aug 31

Words and Children’s Writing Pitfalls to Look Out For

Words and Writing for ChildrenI wrote a fantasy story originally geared toward middle grade. Realizing the word count wasn’t enough for a middle grade story, I changed it to a chapter book.

Good idea, right?

Yes it is, but if you do something like this, you need to remember to check the age appropriateness of the words you originally used. You might ask why this necessary…well, it’s the difference between an editor giving your story a second glance, or not.

It’s so important that publishers will ask what grade level your book is geared toward. You had better make sure the vocabulary of your story and the intended audience are a match.

What exactly do I mean? Let’s use an example:

The boy performed amazing magic. Was it an illusion or real magic?

If you were writing this for a 6th grader, the word illusion would be fine, but say you are writing for a 2nd or 3rd…then you’ll need to change that word.

According to “Children’s Writer’s Word Book,” ‘illusion’ is in the 6th grader’s vocabulary. You would need to change it to a word such as trick or fake to make it age appropriate for a 3rd grader.

The use of words goes far beyond that of choosing age appropriate words, they can be used to say the same thing using different words. Words are so amazing – just make sure yours are just right for the age group you’re writing for.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Finding Children’s Story Ideas
Children’s Writing and Publishing Process – The Traditional Path
Children, the Environment, and Story Telling

NEED HELP WITH YOUR CHILDREN’S MANUSCRIPT / STORY?

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn you story into a publishable and saleable book.

Shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com (please put Children’s Writing Help in the Subject line)

Aug 24

Become an Author – 5 Basic Rules

Tips on Writing.It may seem like becoming an author today is a no-brainer. You just write something, get it up on Kindle, and you’re an author.

Well, that’s true, but I wouldn’t consider you an author. And, neither would any other experienced authors. And, chances are, if you get any readers, they wouldn’t call you an author.

To be an author, you need to create a quality book. You need to write a story that’s well written, that’s engaging, and that you can be proud to have your name on. Before this can happen, you have to have some knowledge of what you’re doing.

Below are five fundamental rules for new to the arena authors.

1. Learn the craft of writing. Even seasoned writers are always honing their skills.

You can take online courses or classes. You can enroll in college classes. You can read, read, read books on writing. And, just as important, you should read books in the genre you want to write.

Tip: Don’t read exclusively in that genre, read in a number of genres, but focus on the genre you want to write in.

In addition, there are many writing blogs that offer great tips on the craft of writing. Take advantage of them.

Tip2: Learning the craft of writing includes learning how to self-edit your work.

2. Join a critique group and writing groups with new and experienced writers.

Even seasoned writers have trouble finding the trouble spots in their own stories. For this reason, you must belong to a writing group and critique group.

Critique groups see what you don’t. They spot: holes in your story, areas where you’re lacking clarity, grammatical errors, and so much more.

It’s essential to have your story critiqued or edited before you submit it for publication. This includes self-publishing. Just because you’re by-passing the publishing house gatekeepers, doesn’t mean you can forego having a polished story.

3. If you can afford it, work with a writing coach.

This really does make a difference. You get answers to all your questions, along with guidance and advice. Just be sure the coach knows her business.

There are lots and lots of people claiming to have the ability to teach you the ropes. Check them out first, before paying them. A good way to find reputable writing coaches is to ask other experienced writers.

4 Learn about marketing and book promotion.

Yep, this is a requirement of being an author. Even if you’re traditionally published, you’ll need to know the book marketing ropes. Look at heavy-hitter James Patterson’s TV commercials. He knows he has to market his own books.

Obviously, most of us can’t afford TV commercials, but if do online searches, you’ll find many free articles, teleclasses and even courses on how to promote and market your books. Take advantage of them.

The internet is severely overcrowded. There are thousands, more likely millions, of authors trying to sell their books. This means you need an edge. You need knowledge. You need something that will bring you to the forefront, or at least close to it.

Tip: If you’re thinking of hiring a service to help with your book marketing, be sure they’re reputable and know what they’re doing. Ask questions, such as:

  • What’s the total cost?
  • What distribution outlets will they use?
  • Are press releases included? If so, which ones will be used?
  • How long will the campaign last?
  • What type of social media promotion do they use?

In other words, find out exactly what you’re paying for. And, ask around if anyone knows of them and if they’re reputable.

5. Pay it forward. Help other writers who are starting out. Okay, I know this isn’t a prerequisite to becoming an author, but it should be.

Established authors have always taken the time to help other writers. I’ve benefited from this and now I do the same. I even created a blog with other experienced authors and we share writing and marketing tips. You can check it out at Writers on the Move http://writersonthemove.com,

Then, what you learn, pass along.

These are five of the basic elements of becoming an author. I hope they help you reach your writing goals.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Critiques are Essential for Writers
Submitting Manuscript Queries – Be Specific and Professional
How Do You Make a Good Story Worth of Getting Past the Gatekeeper

NEED HELP WITH YOUR CHILDREN’S MANUSCRIPT / STORY?

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn you story into a publishable and saleable book.

Shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com (please put Children’s Writing Help in the Subject line)

Get your writing career started today with CreateSpace. Check out this how-to:

Aug 24

Being a Writer – Learn the Craft of Writing

Learn the craft of writingIn the June 2010 issue of The Writer, author Jane Yolen discussed the need to learn the craft of writing in an article titled, “Dedicate Yourself to a Writing Apprenticeship.” She explained that the process is slow and long, but is necessary to being a writer, to learn the craft of writing.

If you’re wondering what the craft of writing is, it’s proper writing technique, grammar, and style. These writing elements include structure, formatting, clarity, and in fiction writing, plot, character development, point of view, and dialogue. Even knowing the particulars in the genre you write is important.

So, what exactly is the meaning of the word ‘craft?’

Wikipedia’s definition is, “A craft is a branch of a profession that requires some particular kind of skilled work.”

Merriam-Webster refers to ‘craft’ as an occupation requiring “artistic skill.”

And, TheFreeDicitionary.com mentions membership in a guild.

Between all three definitions we know that a ‘craft’ is a branch of a professional group or guild. It is a career or occupation, not simply a hobby.

Interestingly, there are various avenues that can be taken to become an accomplished or professional writer, but each one has the need for learning, practice, time, and commitment. Some writers may go to school and get degrees, others may learn from a coach or mentor, others from trial and error, failures and successes. But, whichever path is taken, there is a lot of work that goes into becoming experienced and knowledgeable, in being a writer. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect.

But today, with the easy-to-do-it-yourself self-publishing explosion, writers may not be viewed as professionals. Certainly, most people have read a self-published book or e-book that lacks proper grammar, structure, and even clarity. These products are easy to spot, but yet they’re available for sale, and the authors consider themselves writers.

While it’s great that those who want to write have a vehicle to publish their own work, especially in this overwhelmed publishing market, those who don’t take the time to learn the craft of writing do themselves and others an injustice. They make the self-publishing book market murky and the label of ‘writer’ less professional.

This shouldn’t be the case.

Think of a professional musician. Imagine him playing an amazing piece, smooth, fluid, and beautiful – every note is perfect. Now imagine another musician; this one isn’t in tune, can’t read the music, misses notes, and sounds awful. Which musician do you want to be?

You should want to be the professional; the one who offers polished and experienced work; the one who earns a reputation for quality.

According to WritersHelper.com, it doesn’t matter what your experience level is, there is always room for improvement. Writers should strive to “study ways to improve their craft.” While this may take time and work, it is easy to find the needed help and resources.

To begin, do a search for online writing instruction; try the keyword “learn to write.” You can also check your local schools for adult education classes, or take some college writing courses. There is an abundance of writing information available, much of it free or very inexpensive; take advantage of it.

Being a writer means you need to learn the craft of writing, and continue honing your skills.

Originally published at:
http://www.karencioffiwritingandmarketing.com/2012/01/being-writer-learn-craft-of-writing.html

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Finding Children’s Story Ideas
Writing with Clarity
Imagery and Your Story

NEED HELP WITH YOUR CHILDREN’S MANUSCRIPT / STORY?

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn you story into a publishable and saleable book.

Shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com (please put Children’s Writing Help in the Subject line)

Aug 23

Critiques are Essential for Writers

Writing critiques are a mustAs a working editor, and former book reviewer, it’s easy to tell which authors haven’t bother to have their work critiqued or edited.

Any advice I give, whether in articles or e-books on writing for children or writing in general, I always include the importance of belonging to a critique group. Even experienced authors depend on the unique perspective and extra eyes that each critique member provides.

The critique group can catch a number of potential problems with your manuscript:

1. grammatical errors
2. holes in your story
3. unclear sentences, paragraphs, or dialogue
4. the forward movement of the story
5. overuse of a particular word, adjectives and adverbs
6. unnecessary words to help create a tight story

The list goes on and on. And, there are even more potential problems to be watched out for when writing for children. It’s near impossible for even an experienced writer to catch all his or her own errors.

Your critique partners will also provide suggestions and guidance. Note here, it is up to you whether to heed those suggestion and comments, but if all the members of your group suggest you rewrite a particular sentence for clarity, hopefully a light will go off and you’ll pay attention.

Along with having those extras sets of eyes to help you along, you will begin to see your own writing improve. You will also be able to find your own errors and those of others much quicker. This will help you become a better and more confident writer.

Now, while the critique group does not take the place of an editor, they do help you get to the point where you think you’re ready for submission. At this point, it is always advisable to seek an editor to catch what you and your critique group misses. And, believe me, there will be something in your manuscript that wasn’t picked up on.

When looking into joining a critique group, be sure the group you join has both new and experienced writers. The experienced writers will help you hone your craft just through their critiques of your work.

So, today’s tip: if you’re not already a member of a critique group, join one today!

MORE ON WRITING

Children’s Writing and Publishing Process – The Traditional Path
Children, the Environment, and Story Telling
Submitting Manuscript Queries – Be Specific and Professional

NEED HELP WITH YOUR CHILDREN’S MANUSCRIPT / STORY?

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn you story into a publishable and saleable book.

Shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com (please put Children’s Writing Help in the subject line)

Aug 17

Finding Children’s Story Ideas

Writing ideas for children's writingSitting at the computer with a blank word document in front of you may be intimidating for a writer. You just finished one manuscript, or you’ve hired out to ghostwrite a story, or whatever the reason is, you need to begin writing a children’s story.

Hmmm. What should it be about? You think and think. You gaze out the window. You draw a blank.

Alexander Steele wrote a short article in the October 2010 issue of the Writer, “Where can you find the seeds of a good story?” It was interesting to read that Herman Melville, author of Moby-Dick, had his own whaling adventures which he used to create a wonderful and everlasting story. Steele advices, “Probably the most fertile place to look for ideas is right inside the backyard of your own life.”

You might be thinking you don’t have close contact with children and your childhood was boring, so you don’t have any experiences do draw on. Or, you may be so busy living your life and raising your children that you don’t have time to stop and see all the amazing story opportunities that are right in your own backyard. Well, even if these scenarios fit, you can take steps to rectify the situation.

Finding Story Ideas if You Don’t Have Close Contact with Children:

1. Turn on the TV. Yes, this is an excellent source for story ideas, as well as watching children’s behavior. While it may be in the confines of a scripted show, the writers of these shows try to keep it as real as possible. Take note of the situations, the attitudes of the actors, the scenes, and everything else. Even children’s cartoons have engaging storylines. It may be just the spark you need.

2. Go to a playground with notebook in hand. Watch the children play and listen to them talk. If you’re a professional writer (ghostwriter), or you’re already published, consider asking your local age appropriate school if you could sit in the lunchroom during lunch periods. A useful way to get a positive answer would be to first ask if you could give an author or writing presentation to the students. The principal would need to be sure you are a legitimate writer. Please note though, there may be legal and safety aspects a school would need to consider.

Note: If you do go to a playground or other area where there are children, be sure to inform parents/guardians of what you’re doing. It’d be a good idea to bring a copy of one of your published books with you, so they feel comfortable that you are indeed a writer. It’s a crazy world, always take precautions, and keep the safety of our children at the forefront.

3. Read newly published children’s books, and reread ones you enjoyed as a child then reinvent a story. This is a tip I took advantage of with my own children’s fantasy chapter book. I read an old Chinese tale and reinvented it for a children’s book. I was recently reminded of this ‘story idea source’ by multi-published children’s writer Margot Finke.

Finke advised to study books you like; pay attention to why they work, then “craft an entirely new story.” She explained that, “quirky and fresh” wins publishing contracts today.

Finding Story Ideas if You Do Have Close Contact with Children

1. Study the children you do have contact with, whether your own children, your grandchildren, or other relatives. Children are an amazing source of inspiration and ideas. They have an innate ability to make you feel: just looking at a picture of children may make you smile; hearing a baby laugh can actually make you laugh.

Watch the children, notice their mannerisms, body language, movements, attitudes and emotions, speech, and their interactions with other children and adults. You’ll not only get story ideas, you’ll also get dialogue and ‘showing’ descriptions.

2. If you have regular contact with children, you really shouldn’t need any other steps, just listen, observe, and take notes. But, if the character’s age of your new story differs from the ages of the children you see, use the steps noted above.

MORE ON WRITING

Writing – Are You Showing or Telling
Writing Children’s Books – Genre Differences
Writing a Fiction Story – Walking Through Walls Backstory

NEED HELP WITH YOUR CHILDREN’S MANUSCRIPT / STORY?

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn you story into a publishable and saleable book.

Shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com (please put Children’s Writing Help in the Subject line)