Jul 11

Writing and Point of View: 2 Must-Know Elements

There are two elements to point of view (POV).

The first element is who’s telling the story.

From whose viewpoint is the story being related to the reader? Or whose story is it?

With this part of POV, you’re choosing the character who is telling the story.

With young children’s books, there should be only one POV, and it should be that of the protagonist.

When you’re writing in one character’s POV, it’s essential that you don’t accidentally fall into head-hopping.

Head-hopping is suddenly bringing another character’s POV into the story within the same scene. It may be the same paragraph or the same chapter.

There’s no lead-in to the POV change which makes it jarring to the reader. It can cause the reader to pause, making him read the passage over a few times to get it straight.

It may seem that sticking to one POV is an easy thing, but it’s actually a very easy slip to make. You can slip in another character’s POV without even realizing it.

An example:

Jason is the POV character. Ralph is his best friend.

Jason couldn’t wait to tell Ralph his good news. He grabbed Ralph by the arm and spun him around.

“Hey,” Ralph yelled. His immediate thought was to have his fist ready.

This brings Ralph’s POV into the scene as his thoughts are being made known to the reader.

To eliminate it:

Jason couldn’t wait to tell Ralph his good news. He grabbed Ralph by the arm and spun him around.

“Hey,” Ralph yelled, his fist ready to fly.

With this little change, you’re keeping the essence of the scene, while also keeping it in Jason’s (the POV character) POV.

Another example.

Jason couldn’t stop thinking of the girl he and Ralph met earlier. And neither could Ralph.

When you slip into another character’s internal thoughts, you’re head-hopping.

See how easy it is to do this. Just four little words.

An simple fix:

Jason couldn’t stop thinking of the girl he and Ralph met earlier. He knew Ralph couldn’t either.

According to Jerry Jenkins, “I avoid that [head-hopping] by imagining my Point of View or Perspective Character as my camera—I’m limited to writing only what my character “camera” sees, hears, and knows.”

The second element is whether the story is told in first, second, or third person.

The second element establishes how the story is told. In other words, is it told in first person, second person, or third person limited?

This is a powerful element of storytelling

A quick overview:

First person pronouns are: me, I, mine, and my.

The protagonist is telling his story. He’s the narrator.

Examples of this POV are:
Angry Ninja by Mary Nhin
Fancy Nancy by Jane O’Connor
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

Second person pronouns are: you, your, and yours.

The protagonist is the narrator and talks directly to the reader.

Examples of this POV are:
How to Babysit a Grandpa by Jean Reagan
-Train Your Angry Dragon By Steve Herman
The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone

Third person limited pronouns are: he, she, they, it.

A narrator is telling the story through the perspective of the protagonist in the case of young children’s books.

The narrator is inside the protagonist’s thoughts, senses, and feelings.

According to MasterClass, it ”can give readers a deeper experience of character and scene, and is the most common way to use point of view.”

Examples of this POV:

Walking Through Walls by Karen Cioffi
The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
The Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel

Hope this helps you get a better handle on point of view.

Sources: https://theeditorsblog.net/2011/09/10/head-hopping-gives-readers-whiplash/

NEED HELP WITH YOUR STORY?

Let me take a look at your notes, outline, or draft. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and coach. I can turn your story into a book you’ll be proud to be author of.

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

Let’s get your story in publishable and marketable shape today!

Or, if you’d rather give it a shot and do-it-yourself, check out my book, HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S FICTION BOOK.

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Jul 04

Writing the World Around You by Paying Attention

Contributed by writer-author D. Jean Quarles

Recently I spoke to a friend about paying attention. We were talking about being observant in relationship to her home and neighborhood, but how much do we as writers also need to slow down to ‘get it right’?

Here are some points to ponder:

Details: You’ve probably heard the adage, ‘it’s all in the details.’ And I agree. When reading another’s work, it’s the details that suck me in and take me on the journey with the author. When we as writers slow down and pay attention, adding those small details makes our writing that much more impactful.

Sensations: To get the details right, focus on smell, taste, and hearing as well as what you see. We have more than one sense, yet many times we forget that. Creating scenes where more than one sense is used gives a roundness to our writing that elicits connection.

Remember when: You were a child and the simplest things delighted you? The sound of crickets? The smell of wood smoke? The way the butterfly flits from one flower to the next? These simple things that once delighted you, can pull your reader back to a similar time and place and delight them.

Dialog: How we talk to each other in real life is, many times, not at all how we think we talk to each other. Often in my conversations with family and friends we are finishing others thoughts, interrupting, getting it wrong, or getting it right, but still not necessarily listening well and responding appropriately. Dialog creates conflict, and also creates connections between your characters. Slow down and listen to conversations. Pay attention to how people really communicate with each other.

Find your metaphors: Metaphors add so much to your writing, but sitting in a room in front of the computer may not be the best place in which to develop them. Instead, pay attention to the detail you are trying to convey in a different way and use those same senses above to find a connection that fits.

In this world that seems so much about hurry, hurry, hurry, it may not be easy to make the switch to slow down, listen, and feel, but your writing will be enhanced and your readers will appreciate the effort.

About the Author

D. Jean Quarles wife, mother, grandmother, and business coach, as well as a writer of Women’s Fiction and co-author of a Young Adult Science Fiction Series. She loves to tell stories of personal growth – where success has nothing to do with money or fame, but of living life to the fullest. She is also the author of the novels: Rocky’s Mountains, Fire in the Hole, and Perception, and the co-author of The Exodus Series: The Water Planet: Book 1 and House of Glass: Book 2.

You can learn more about D. Jean Quarles, her writing, and her books at her website at www.djeanquarles.com. You can also follow her on Facebook.

This article was first published at: https://www.writersonthemove.com/2016/07/writing-world-around-you.html

Children's ghostwriter

Whether you need help with ghostwriting, rewriting, or coaching, let me take a look at your children’s story. Just send me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com. Please put “Children’s Writing” in the Subject box. Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700

Let’s get your idea off the launch pad or your outline into a publishable and marketable story today!

Or, if you’d rather give it a shot and do-it-yourself, check out my book, HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S FICTION BOOK.

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Jun 27

Write for the Reader, Not for Yourself

Years ago, a client told me that I don’t write for the client; I don’t even write for myself; I write for the reader.

This was in regard to a picture book I wrote for the client and it’s the best compliment I’ve ever gotten.

This is how every author should write.

Two key points when writing for children are: Write for the reader and take professional advice.

At this point in my writing career, I’ve probably written around 350 stories, between ghostwriting and rewriting. Most of them are ghostwritten.

That’s a lot of clients. And even though I’ve had a number of series clients and return clients, all-in-all, I’ve dealt with at least 300 individual clients.

And I’m most likely underestimating this.

My point, though, is that most authors, especially new authors or wanna-be-authors, don’t realize the importance of writing for the reader.

So, what exactly does this mean?

A perfect example of this is a young adult story I’m currently working on. It’s over 100,000 words and is engrossing, but it’s also very complicated.

I’m working with the client for around nine months or so, and a running problem keeps coming up: he writes for himself.

He knows what every character’s backstory is – every little detail.

He knows the story’s backstory.

He knows the history of the story topic intimately.

He knows why Character Z is evil.

He knows how the enemy is getting their information.

He knows how the next two books in the trilogy will pan out.

The problem…

The reader doesn’t know. And, the client more than occasionally throws in something that the reader will get lost on.

The client can’t grasp that the reader can’t read his mind.

It’s easy to fall into this hole.

It’s super easy to get caught in this scenario, especially if it’s a long story and you’re writing independently.

Again, you know what you intend. You know what’s happening – you know the why to what’s happening. But this doesn’t mean the reader will unless you clue them in.

To give a more straightforward example, suppose a story has four brothers battling an enemy, but it’s mentioned somewhere that there are five brothers. The fifth brother is mentioned vaguely in a very brief scene, then just disappears.

The author knows who the fifth brother is, where he is, how he vanished, and why he vanished. The author thinks it’s important to mention the fifth brother because that brother will play a big part in another book. The problem, again, the reader doesn’t know any of this.

The reader will begin to wonder. Who’s the fifth brother? Why was he there and then vanished? What is his place in the story? She’ll possibly get annoyed that the author even mentioned the fifth brother.

You don’t want the reader to feel she’s left out of the loop or that the story is too complicated for her. Give the reader what she needs to be engaged in the story and on top of it.

LOL Writing this, I’m not even sure if I’m being clear enough. I know what I’m trying to say; I hope it translates over.

Readers are savvy and can read between the lines as long as the author provides enough clues or information.

Write with clarity. Don’t expect the reader to be a mind reader.

Finally, if you’re working with a professional editor, rewriter, or ghostwriter, take her advice, especially when it’s on something that just makes sense.

Children's ghostwriter

Whether you need help with ghostwriting, rewriting, or coaching, let me take a look at your children’s story. Just send me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com. Please put “Children’s Writing” in the Subject box. Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700

Let’s get your idea off the launch pad or your outline into a publishable and marketable story today!

Or, if you’d rather give it a shot and do-it-yourself, check out my book, HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S FICTION BOOK.

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Jun 20

The Author and Copywriting

Whether you like it or not, as authors and writers, you need to write compelling, even persuasive content.

You might ask why.

Well, if you’re spending your time creating a book, magazine article, essay, blog post, or content for your website, you have a purpose in mind.

That purpose is to create and build visibility and sell what you’re offering.

This is where copywriting comes in.

So, what exactly is copywriting?

According to American Writers and Artists Institute (AWAI), “Copywriting is the process of writing persuasive marketing and promotional materials that motivate people to take some form of action, such as make a purchase, click on a link, donate to a cause, or schedule a consultation.”

Writing persuasive content helps you create and build visibility, and it helps you sell your books, your services, or your products.

An article at AWAI, “5 Sales Copy Editing Tips to Double Conversions,” gives five tips on how to get visitors to your website and potential clients to say YES to your offer.

Five tips to make your article or blog post more persuasive.

Here are three:

  1. It’s always about the reader.

With all the content online, you need to grab the reader quickly.

Let the reader know what’s in it for her in the beginning paragraph.

Let her know how your article can help her.

An example: Last month, my article, The One Sentence Pitch for Your Manuscript, had the most pageveiws of all my articles. It was posted over five years ago.

Based on this information, I went back to the post to make sure it followed this advice. It did.

Within the first paragraph, I explain what a one-sentence pitch is. And in the next, I explain why it needs to be only one sentence.

So, my beginning content gives the reader what he’s looking for.

I did have to add an updated call-to-action which is why you should check on your older posts.

  1. The So Whater.

This is a great tip and one that I learned years ago from children’s writer Margot Finke.

In children’s writing, the So Whater is about moving the character and story forward by continually asking yourself, so what.

Suppose Amanda gets a virtual reality headset. “So what,” says the So Whater.

Suppose the game she gets with the set is about scuba diving with sharks.

Again, the So Whater says, “So What?” And, she goes on to say, “So what,” every time you add something to the story.

Having to come up with answers for the So Whater motivates you to come up with what happens next that will make a page-turning story.

It’s the same with copywriting.

You have to think of where and when the reader may say, “So What?” “What’s in it for Me?”

Keeping this in mind helps you have the answer already in place to stop the So Whater before he gets started.

  1. Make your call-to-action (CTA) work for you.

Your CTA needs to motivate the reader to click on what you’re offering.

  • It may be to buy your book.
  • It may be to attend a podcast, webinar, or other format.
  • It may be to sign up for your mailing list.
  • It may be to take a survey.

Whatever you want the reader or visitor to do, make it clear and enticing.

  • You might add a guarantee: You’re going to love this or ask for a full refund – no questions asked.
  • You might offer an additional helpful tool or PDF or other if the reader takes the action you want.

In my copy for Become a Power-Blogger in Just 4-Weeks, I include helpful bonus information.

  • Compare the price to something else, making it sound cheap compared to the other product or service.

The article at AWAI gave this example: For the cost of a Starbucks latte each day, you can be enjoying …

  • Offer a how-to PDF that will simplify the reader’s life.

I recently created a DIY Self-Publishing PDF as an offer to join my mailing list.

It takes the author from an edited manuscript to publishing an ebook or paperback. I know this is a valuable offer because I tried to find the information when I was self-publishing How to Write a Children’s Fiction Book.

  • Add testimonials or other social proof.

Suppose you have 100,000 subscribers to your email list. You could use that as social proof: Join 100,000 other subscribers. Or, something like, A 100,000 subscribers can’t be wrong – jump on board.

I have testimonials on my Home page of my website. Testimonials work. I’ve had clients tell me they hired me because of my testimonials.

  1. Would you click on your CTA?

Once you have your article or content written and edited, read it as a visitor to your site or a reader. Then read the CTA.

Would the content motivate you to take action?

You might be thinking that all this takes time, and you’d be right.

But once you get into the routine of doing it, it will come easier and quicker. And more than that, it will work for you.

On top of all this, what you write online is there forever and reaches far. The internet is a crazy place; you just don’t know who will see that article, CTA, or other content you write.

It’s important to make your content effective. Make it do what you want it to, what you need it to do, to get the reader to click on your CTA.

NEED HELP WITH YOUR AUTHOR PLATFORM:

Build Your Author/Writer Platform is a 4-week in-depth and interactive e-class I instruct through WOW! Women on Writing. It covers all the tools you’ll need to build visibility and traffic, and boost sales.

CLICK THE LINK BELOW to check out all it includes!
http://wow-womenonwriting.com/classroom/KarenCioffi_WebsiteTrafficInboundMarketing.php

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Jun 13

3 Ways Writing Builds Strength

Contributed by Linda Wilson

There are lots of ways to build strength in life: Eat right, exercise, get enough sleep, be social, stay mentally active.

That last category? We writers have that covered in spades. After all, challenging our mental acuity is our game. I like to think for reasons beyond simply making an effort to stay healthy.

Tucked into suggestions to challenge our gray matter by the Alzheimer’s Organization, which lists such activities as attending lectures and plays, playing games and working crossword puzzles, is writing. With all that serious writing entails we writers must be way ahead of the game.

Subtle Strengths Reaped from Being a Writer

1-Don’t talk about it–DO IT: How often have you had this conversation with someone who wants to lose weight?

Weight Loss Challenger: I’m trying to lose weight.
You: Good for you.
Challenger: My goal is 15 lbs. but I don’t know if I’ll ever get there. I’ve tried every kind of diet and nothing works for me.

STOP!

Too often the person who talks about weight loss winds up in an endless weight-loss-weight-gain cycle and doesn’t reach her goal UNTIL she stops talking about it. Only then can she get down to business and DO IT. It takes strength to drum up the necessary discipline.

I use this example to illustrate the mistake I made as a beginner writer and the mistake other beginners might make: I talked about what I planned to write, even expounding on the details of the piece/story. Maybe I even started the project . . . but never finished it. Why? Talking about what you’re planning to write can take the wind right out of your sails–it can rob you of the energy you’ve put into coming up with your idea in the first place, so that when it comes time to write, your enthusiasm is gone.

2-The Zone. Now that you’ve leaped over one of your initial hurdles, pouring out your heart and keeping it between you and the page, you find that you soon enter THE ZONE–that magical place any serious creator occupies while working, be it an athlete, a musician, a homemaker who establishes a loving and pleasing environment–it doesn’t matter. The very act of creating will get you there. The world will open up to you. You’ll be in the candy shop, given carte blanche to pick any kind of confection you want: cake, ice cream, cookies; or hey, anything made with semi-sweet chocolate, my personal favorite (while being “strong” enough not to gain weight, mind you). You will begin to build or continue to build on your knowledge and skills and explore any and all aspects of life to your heart’s desire. A writing friend once told me one of the benefits she loves about writing is that you become an expert on many subjects and you carry this knowledge with you for the rest of your life. There’s a great deal of strength in that.

3-Learning your craft and sharpening your skills: This is a great accomplishment. You literally transform yourself into the ranks of successful people who have arrived at their success like you have, from their relentless efforts and hard work. A likely trajectory to becoming an accomplished writer can go something like this:

-Write for your school newspaper beginning as early as possible; then become editor.
-Establish a place to write and a schedule so that you write regularly every day, if possible.
-Keep a journal. Come up with subjects that are important to you and think of ways you can write about them.
-Take courses, read “how-to” books, join writing organizations and attend workshops and conferences. Share your writing with other writers.
-Explore publication outlets online, at the library, with writing organizations you belong to. Find a publication(s) that would welcome what you have to say.
-Learn photography, a handy skill to accompany your writing.
-Learn how to speak in front of others.
-Network, see what other writers are doing and learn from them. We are a sharing group .We have been known to go to great lengths to help and promote our fellow writers.

Before you know it you will have found your niche and if you keep working at it you will eventually reach your goals. Once you’ve reached your goals you can flex those buff writing muscles you’ve developed to benefit yourself, your readers and those fortunate enough to come in contact with you.

This article was originally published at: http://www.writersonthemove.com/2016/04/three-ways-writing-builds-strength.html

Children's author

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher, has published over 150 articles for children and adults, several short stories for children, and her first book, Secret in the Stars: An Abi Wunder Mystery, which is available on Amazon. Publishing credits include biosketches for the library journal, Biography Today, which include Troy Aikman, Stephen King, and William Shatner; Pockets; Hopscotch; and an article for Highlights for Children. Secret in the Mist, the second in the Abi Wunder series, is coming soon. A Packrat Holiday: Thistletoe’s Gift, and Tall Boots, Linda’s picture books, will be published soon. Follow Linda on https://www.lindawilsonauthor.com.

Children's ghostwriter

Let me take a look at your notes, outline, or draft. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and coach. I can turn your story into a book that you’ll be proud to be author of.
Shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com (please put Children’s Ghostwriter in the Subject line). Or, you can give me a call at 834—347—6700

Let’s get your story in publishable and marketable shape today!

Or, if you’d rather give it a shot and do-it-yourself, check out my book, HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S FICTION BOOK.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

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Jun 06

What’s Stopping You From Becoming a Children’s Author?

Writing for children

There are many people, men, woman, professionals, and those in business who actually dream of being the author of a children’s book.

Usually, it’s to inspire a child or to bring memories or stories they told their children to life. Or, it can be a business person who wants a children’s book as part of their product line.

From my experience, the majority of these people want to be author of a picture book.

I’ve had hundreds and hundreds of queries about starting a project that fell through.

Why does this happen?

Why do the majority of people who want to be children’s author drop their dream?

While I don’t know for sure, I do think there are a few basic reasons.

  1. The cost.

Yep. If you are hiring a children’s ghostwriter, it will cost money.

This is a huge concern for most, and understandably.

What really surprised me during 2020 was the number of people who did use my services. It was my busiest year ever. It had to be that people had time on their hands and wanted to be kept busy.

Then there are the writing services on sites like Fiverr. These sites and many others use non-speaking people to write the stories for clients.

Yes, it will be cheaper than a professional writer, but keep in mind that you get what you pay for.

Below is an example from a Fiverr project a client came to me to fix. This was for a picture book:

“His feet were heavy with reluctance as he dragged them unwillingly one in front of the other. He looked at his reflection in the bathroom mirror and couldn’t help but notice his sad expression. His piercing dark blue eyes, once full of joy and excitement, now looked weary and defeated.”

In another section there were three “really” within four sentences.

The entire story’s formatting was horrible, such as the lack of new paragraphs for new speakers. There were grammatical errors and multiple points of view.

So, again, you get what you pay for.

I can’t imagine someone wanting to have their name as author of a story like that.

Another cost factor with children’s books is illustrations.

If you’re self-publishing, you’ll need to hire an illustrator for a picture book.

You’ll also need illustrations for chapter books and middle grade books.

I listened to a YouTube video with editor and former literary agent Mary Kole. (Check out her YouTube channel, Good Story Company.) She said if you want a high-quality professional illustrator for a picture book, you’re looking at $10,000 to $20,000. And, if you want an acclaimed illustrator, it’s much more. (1)

Obviously, most people can’t afford that. So, it’s understandable why some people drop the idea.

But there are good illustrators who charge far, far less.

  1. Motivation wanes due to life.

One perfect example is a client from 2019.

I wrote a young adult (YA) story for an attorney. It was almost done and he was gun-ho. He even wanted seven picture books written after the YA was finished.

He paid in full and we were working to finish it.

Then he slowed down. Family. Vacation. Work.

Then COVID-19 hit.

I contacted him and he said he’d get back into it, but he didn’t.

I’ll contact him again as he paid for a completed manuscript and there are still about five or so chapters to go.

So, as we all know, life happens. This can put a monkey wrench in any project.

  1. It seems too complicated.

There is a lot involved in having a book ghostwritten and illustrated.

And, it’s a lot of work if you’re writing the story yourself.

After that, it’s the business of getting the book formatted, the interior design, and uploading for publication and distribution.

It can seem daunting.

But it doesn’t have to be.

There are a number of services that will help you put your book together and get it published. I’ve even added this service to my site to make it easier for clients.

There is plenty of help out there.

So, what to do?

If your dream is to have your name as author of a children’s book, take the first step.

Find out what’s involved and what the cost will be. This will give you a solid foundation on what you need to do and what you’ll need for a budget.

It may be that your imagination is getting carried away.

Shoot me an email to discuss your project.

If you prefer writing the story yourself, I offer coaching services that includes guidance on how to self-published.

Don’t let your dream go unfulfilled.

Get started today!

References:

(1) Picture Book Author-Illustrator

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Children's ghostwriter

Let me take a look at your notes, outline, or draft. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and coach. I can turn your story into a book that you’ll be proud to be author of.

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

Let’s get your story in publishable and marketable shape today!

Or, if you’d rather give it a shot and do-it-yourself, check out my book, HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S FICTION BOOK.

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May 30

Submitting to an Editor or Literary Agent? 6 Things to Watch For

Submitting to an editor at a publishing house or to a literary agent can be nerve wrecking. But, if you want your story to find a home, it’s a journey you have to take.

Any journey you’re about to go on, takes planning, preparation, and then execution.

It’s the same with submitting your manuscript.

So, how do you plan and prepare to submit?

The first thing is to know what agents and editors want from you, and the best way to know this information is to read their submission guidelines.

There is no way around doing your research.

With that said, there are some basic tips to add to your submission toolkit.

  1. Know who you’re submitting to.

Don’t put Dear Editor or Dear Agent. Have a name and use it.

Search the website of the publisher or agency you’re targeting and get the name of the person accepting submissions in your genre.

If you can’t find exactly what you need from the website, call the publishing house or agency. Ask who is accepting submission in your genre.

  1. Know what type of books the publisher or agency deals with.

Getting back to research, be sure you’re submitting your book to a place that deals with the genre your book is in.

I’m a children’s writer and it wouldn’t make sense for me to submit my fiction chapter book manuscript to a publisher or agency that deals with adult nonfiction.

Not only would it be a waste of my time, but the person receiving my submission will be annoyed that I didn’t bother reading their guidelines.

Another potential problem is that if I one day write a nonfiction manuscript and it’s just what that particular publisher or agency is looking for, they may remember me from the children’s manuscript.

  1. Make your hook compelling and unique.

The hook in your query or proposal needs to be brief, one or two sentences. It’s the first impression you’ll get to wow the agent or publisher.

Use present tense, and convey the emotion of the story by using strong active verbs. And mention or hint to the stakes and the main conflict.

  1. Present your best writing.

Do your best to submit writing that’s irresistible.

Hopefully, you’ve either learned the craft of writing or at least read a lot of books in the genre you’re writing.

Study what appeals to you; examine what makes you want to turn the pages, and use these strategies to make your book enticing enough that the editor or agent will want to read more.

And, be sure to edit and proof your manuscript before submitting.

There are tools like ProWritingAid and Grammarly that will help you catch errors you didn’t realize you missed.

If you want to take even more care and if it’s in your budget, get a professional to look your manuscript over.

  1. The comparison section is important.

Publishers and agents want to make sure you’re familiar with the genre you’re writing in, and what published books your book is comparable to.

This will take research. This means to read, read, and read some more. Read books in your genre and books that focus on your topic or similar to it, even if somewhat.

Choosing two or three comp titles is a good place to be.

In her article, Comp Titles in a Query, former agent Mary Kole says, “The purpose of strong book comps is to make a realistic comparison between your work and someone else’s. Ideally, the author or book you’re choosing is thoughtful, rather than just a runaway bestseller. It’s always best to give reasoning for your choices, if you can.”

  1. Have something to put in the marketing section of your query.

Make everything about you and your platform professional.

This includes your author website.

Your website should be up to date, easy to read, and have information about you and your books, if you have any published.

Again, do research to see what other authors’ websites look like.

Along with this, have social media accounts and be active on them. If you don’t have a large following, show that you’re making strides in that direction.

Publishers and agents want to know that you know what a writer’s platform is and that you can help sell your books.

  1. Be professional in your presentation.

Your proposal should be professional. Research how to organize and format it.

Resources:

A Literary Agent’s Wish List

8 Tips for Writing a Powerful Hook for Your Book Proposal

Children's ghostwriter

Whether you need help with ghostwriting, rewriting, or coaching, let me take a look at your children’s story. Just send me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com. Please put “Children’s Writing” in the Subject box. Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700

Let’s get your idea off the launch pad or your outline into a publishable and marketable story today!

Or, if you’d rather give it a shot and do-it-yourself, check out my book, HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S FICTION BOOK.

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May 23

Your Story Beginning

With all the information online about writing, I still get clients who start their stories with backstory, boring introductions, or with a number of characters leaving the reader in the dark as to who the protagonist is.

The beginning of your story, whether a picture book, chapter book, or middle-grade, is to provide the reader with some key information.

  1. The story should start with the protagonist.

You need to quickly establish a connection between the reader and the protagonist.

The reader needs to know at the beginning who’s taking them on the journey, who’s point-of-view they’re being privy to.

  1. Keep the beginning in the present.

Starting the story with something like:

Alicia looked at herself in the mirror as she thought about her life before. She was a hair stylist in a high-end establishment and loved her job. That is until her boss took on a partner. Things went downhill from there. Having to quit, it took her six-months to find another job. And that job was in a low-end place she swore she’d never work at.

The opening paragraph above is considered information dump. It’s there solely to let the reader know the protagonist’s past.

While some of the information may be important to the story, it shouldn’t be dumped in the beginning.

Instead, you might start it like:

“Hey, Alicia,” called Juan. “Your 3 o’clock is here. I’m sending her back.”

Alicia looked at herself in the mirror. How did this happen? What am I doing in this dead-end job?

This brings us to number three.

  1. Start your story with action.

The latter scene in number two is action related, but it doesn’t have to start with dialogue.

You might have the protagonist angry with his best friend.

Josh stood with his arms folded and his eyes narrowed as he watched Branden talking to Mia. What’s he doing talking to her? He knows I like her.

OR …

Josh stood with his arms folded and his eyes narrowed. “I saw you talking to Mia. You know I like her.”

Branden shrugged. “It’s no big deal.”

Josh got even more angry.

OR …

Max looked at the rock-climbing wall. Man, it’s high. His body tensed as he put his foot on the first rock that jutted out. He looked at the crowd that gathered in the gym to watch him. Why’d I accept this stupid challenge?

OR …

Wang tied the last bundle of wheat and hurled it into the cart. He wiped the back of his neck then pulled the cart up the hill. Looking back at his father, who leaned on his shovel, hunched over, Wang mumbled, “This is not the life for me.”

The action doesn’t have to be life or death, but it needs to let the reader get an idea of know who the protagonist is. It should give the reader something to latch onto.

Editor Mary Kole of Good Story Company said, “the underpinning of action is conflict.”

In the first and second scenarios, Josh is having a problem with his friend.

In the third scenario, Max is afraid. Maybe he’s afraid of failing, or afraid of being made fun of if he can’t climb the wall.

In the fourth scenario, Wang doesn’t want a fate like his father’s. He doesn’t want the back-breaking work and sweat of tending the wheat fields.

These are just one paragraph examples, but they should give you an idea of how to create effective beginnings for your stories.

Just remember that your story beginning should make the reader want to know what’s going on. It should motivate him turn the page.

NEED HELP WITH YOUR STORY?

Whether you need help with ghostwriting, rewriting, or coaching, let me take a look at your children’s story. Just send me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com. Please put “Children’s Writing” in the Subject box. Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700

Let’s get your idea off the launch pad or your outline into a publishable and marketable story today!

Or, if you’d rather give it a shot and do-it-yourself, check out my book, HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S FICTION BOOK.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Secondary Characters – Are They Important?

Be a Successful Writer Even if You Don’t Think You Have Enough Time

Picture Book Writing Style

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May 16

Common Children’s Author Mistakes, Big and Small

I watched a webinar through Children’s Book Insider (CBI) with traditionally published children’s authors Jean Daigneau and Gloria Adams. They had some very helpful tips.

One section I found interesting was:

BIG common mistakes that authors make with children’s books.

  1. The number ONE most common big mistake is a weak plot.

So, what does a weak plot mean?

No conflict, or very little.

Basically…

The main character needs to have a problem. It can be internal or external, but it needs to be something that has consequences attached to it.

The conflict doesn’t need to be life or death; it may be that he figures out a way to stop a bully. Or, she figures out a way to get the bike she’s been wanting. It could even be that he was lonely and finds a friend.

It does need to be something that will get the young reader engaged.

It’s the conflict that will make the reader become invested in the main character’s journey. It’s the conflict that will motivate the reader to read to the end.

  1. The number two most common mistake is the lack of a story arc.

A story needs a full story arc. A beginning, a middle, and an end, and within that structure there needs to conflict that rises.

There also needs to be a satisfying resolution to that conflict.

This is commonly known as Freytag’s Pyramid.

The story starts on the left side of the pyramid. The action and conflict climbs up to the peak (the climax). Then it’s down the right side with falling action and the resolution.

  1. Another big mistake is the lack of a character arc.

The character needs to grow in some way.

He needs to change in some way as a result of his journey to overcome the obstacle blocking him from reaching his goal.

Maybe the character becomes kinder, happier, more confident, smarter, physically stronger, emotionally stronger, more creative, less fearsome. You get the gist.

He shouldn’t be the same person as he was at the beginning of the journey.

When you look at the character at the beginning of the story and then at the end, he needs to be different. There needs to be some kind of growth.

Some of the SMALLER mistakes or problems authors make are:

  1. Double tags.

Here’s an example:

Pete threw his fist in the air. “If he does that again, I don’t know what I’ll do,” he said.

This is a double tag.

It’s already established that Pete is the one talking because he’s noted throwing his fist in the air. The “he said” shouldn’t be included.

If you know the reader will understand who’s talking, you don’t add a dialogue tag.

  1. Picture books and illustrations.

If you’re writing a picture book, take the illustrations into account.

Write with them in mind. Leave enough room for the illustrator to be creative and bring the story to another level.

  1. Illustrator notes.

It may be tempting to try to direct the illustrator with a lot of illustrator notes, but don’t do it.

Unless it’s something that the illustrator wouldn’t know, but needs to know, don’t mention it.

An example of this:

Maybe your protagonist has a dog and you want it to be a specific breed of dog and a specific color. This is something you can note as the illustrator certainly wouldn’t know about it.

  1. Candy-coating the story.

A number of my clients don’t want anything bad to happen to the characters in the story. This is especially true of picture books.

But it’s tough to have conflict if nothing bad can happen to the characters.

The best stories, even if fantasy, have realism in them.

  1. Unsatisfying ending.

The ending of your story is important to get right.

All loose ends must be tied up. And, especially in picture books and writing for young children, the ending must be satisfying.

The reader should go away feeling good about the story.

Another important aspect of the ending is to NOT tell the reader what the message of the story is.

The take-away value of the story should be subtly conveyed through the story itself. Don’t hit the reader over the head with it

Winding this up…

A good story needs it all. It needs conflict with rising action and resolution. It needs character growth with a subtle message.

The best way to incorporate all this into your story is to read a lot of traditionally published books in the genre you’re writing. Pay attention to what makes those books work.

Children's ghostwriter

Let me take a look at your notes, outline, or draft. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and coach. I can turn your story into a book that you’ll be proud to be author of.

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

Let’s get your story in publishable and marketable shape today!

Or, if you’d rather give it a shot and do-it-yourself, check out my book, HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S FICTION BOOK.

May 09

Series Writing – Charting the Details

Writing a children's series.

Writing a series can be rewarding and also challenging.

Think about it.

With a single chapter book, middle grade, or young adult, you need to keep track of all the details.

With a series, there’s a lot more to keep track of.

Linda Wilson has a helpful article on charting the details of your series:

The Challenge is in the Details

Begin your children’s book series by creating worksheets to keep track of the details. This will help avoid the pitfalls of time spent having to flip back to previous books for small (or large) details that may have escaped you. Preparing your series worksheets isn’t much different than keeping track of the details for each of your writing projects. To accomplish this for each individual book project:

  • Keep a separate notebook for each book.
  • In each notebook, preferably during the first stage, create a chart of the following important information. This will take time but will be worth it. The information will be at your fingertips to tweak as you go along, and also to use for school visits, your blog, etc.

These are the categories you should have:

  • Age group
  • Genre
  • Verb tense
  • Point of View
  • Mood or tone
  • Setting
  • Time span
  • Character list, role played in your story and profiles
  • Theme
  • List of Scenes or contents of chapters
  • Concept sentence
  • Why you wrote your book
  • Where your idea came from
  • Research: what you researched, what file it’s kept in, sources you’ve cited
  • Books by other authors that are similar to your book or that you used as models
  • A list of your favorite authors, your favorite books and the authors’ bios

Ideas on how to Organize your Series

Keep a separate section or separate notebook if you’ve created a series. A series organizational chart can contain information similar to the charts for your books.

  • Series title
  • Genre
  • List of characters and how this list changes from book to book
  • How the books tie together
  • How your characters grow and change as the series progresses
  • Series timeline
  • Settings
  • Keep track of the series books you’ve read and notes you’ve taken
  • Most important: write down how your series will end
  • Also: keep track of special information pertaining to your story, such as in my MG mystery, the chapter(s) and page numbers of when the ghost appears.

Join the Fun

One of the most fun parts of writing a series for me has been reading popular and well-loved series by other authors.

  • Take notes on the books you’ve read and on how the series is connected.
  • Note who the mc is and how the mc changes and grows
  • Are there new characters introduced? Which ones stay the same in each book?

What’s so intriguing is the difference in how the books are connected from series to series. In the Stepping Stones series of chapter books about ghosts by Marion Dane Bauer, each book has different mc’s and characters; the connection is that each book is about a ghost-of-a-different-color: The Blue Ghost, The Green Ghost, The Red Ghost, The Golden Ghost. And the delightful Princess in Black series by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, in which sweet Princess Magnolia must handle a monster problem when her glitter-stone ring rings. Out bursts the Princess in Black for her next adventure, which is different in each book.

When I first realized that two of my projects could become series I was intimidated. But, after studying the nature of series writing I’ve come to realize that planning is key, as it is for the creation of any book, either right from the start or the plans emerge sometime during the revision stage. I plan to avoid as many pitfalls as possible by following the advice of authors who have shared their expertise and experiences. I hope this information will help you, too.

About the Author

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 100 articles for adults and children, and six short stories for children. Recently, she completed Joyce Sweeney’s online fiction courses, picture book course and mystery and suspense course. She has currently finished her first book, a mystery/ghost story for 7-11 year-olds, and is in the process of publishing it and moving on to new writing projects. Follow Linda on Facebook.

This article was originally published at: https://www.writersonthemove.com/2016/11/series-writers-chart-details-part-3.html

Children's ghostwriter

Let me take a look at your notes, outline, or draft. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and coach. I can turn your story into a book that you’ll be proud to be author of.

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

Let’s get your story in publishable shape today!

Or, if you’d rather give it a shot and do-it-yourself, check out my book, HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S FICTION BOOK.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Secondary Characters – Are They Important?

Be a Successful Writer Even if You Don’t Think You Have Enough Time

Picture Book Writing Style

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