Dec 19

Writer’s Block – What Can You Do?

Got Writer's Block?
Contributed by Regina Montana

Just about every writer faces the inevitable: writer’s block.

You stare at the page and nothing comes. It can be debilitating and depressing for the beginning writer, but not just for them. The blank page stares back and dares writers at all stages of their career to fill it up, but with what? 

I would like to make the following suggestions that others have tried and found to be quite helpful.

1.	Take a walk. It’s amazing how a solitary hike or walk in nature can help the imagination run wild. When there’s no pressure, writers are free to let their thoughts roam where they will. You can take in all the sights and sounds around you and invite the Muse. I have even asked my main character for advice as I’m walking. What will you do next? How will you solve the problem you’re facing? 

2.	Change genres.  If you’re writing a picture book, try writing a poem or non-fiction article for a children’s magazine. It helps to lessen the pressure on your brain to let your thoughts change gears for a while. What stirs your imagination? What kind of animals do you find interesting? Do you have a green thumb? Try writing a free verse poem about the geraniums you planted that look beautiful.

3.	Try your hand at painting. I actually found myself transformed as I took out some acrylics and water colors and decided I would sketch illustrations for two poems I wrote. It didn’t matter that they were not great. I enjoyed seeing the bird I wrote about take shape and even got a few compliments when I shared my drawings.  I read an interesting quotation about how trying other forms of art can help inspire creativity, get the juices flowing and flex one’s creative muscle.  

4.	Pick up that guitar you used to play. I learned to play the piano as a teenager and, despite my very basic knowledge, I love to sit down and play a few tunes when the moment arises. I now have the opportunity to learn the organ which has been a lifelong dream. I met a music teacher and she has inspired me to pursue this path. I will be able to practice on our church organ with the permission of my pastor. Maybe I’ll be better able to hear my characters talking to me and telling me the path they want to take.   

5.	So do not despair. Here are a few memorable quotations for Overcoming a Creative Block

Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. You cannot intellectualize creativity. You can think about something before or after – but not during.
—	Ray Bradbury

Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up too. If she doesn’t show up invited, eventually she just shows up.      
—	Isabel Allende

Hope these tips help you when the inevitable bout of writer's block hits.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Regina is a children’s literature writer of poems and picture books. She has written for the ezine Kids Imagination Train, and is a member of Children’s Book Insider where she contributed two articles to, as well as a member of SCBWI.  Regina is also a teacher with a Master of Education Degree.  She has raised two children of her own and is now a grandmother of 5 who give her lots of ideas when she listens carefully.

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.


Writing for children tips
Working with a Children’s Ghostwriter – The Process

The Author Website – Keep It Simple and to the Point

How to Write a Story

Social media sharing
Dec 12

What’s Your Takeaway?

The children's writing takeaway.
Most of my clients know what they want the takeaway of their book to be. 

It may be to demonstrate kindness, overcoming fear, being a good friend, learning responsibility, learning about conservation, becoming self-confident, learning coping strategies, realizing the importance of family…

Now and then, though, I still get clients who think a list of events constitutes a good story. And they have a tough time understanding the elements that need to go into making a story work, such as character arc, story arc, and plot. They also don’t understand that a children’s book should have a takeaway.

What is a book’s takeaway?

According to Merriam Webster, a takeaway is “a main point or key message to be learned or understood from something experienced or observed.”

With this in mind, the takeaway is what’s valuable in the book – the message it conveys. It’s what the reader will find memorable or worthy of remembering. 

This is important when writing for children because you want the reader to leave the book learning something, even if subconsciously. 

Examples.

Using my middle-grade fantasy, “Walking Through Walls,” the protagonist, Wang, begins as a selfish and lazy kid. His journey to become a Master Eternal, in order to become powerful and wealthy, changes him for the better.

Along with Wang becoming more than he was or better than he was, the reader can see how it came about and the value in those changes.

By the way, "Walking Through Walls" is a cross between a chapter book and a middle-grade and is a great book for the reluctant reader.

Another example is “Stephanie’s Ponytail” by Robert Munsch. 

The kids in Stephanie’s class copy every hairdo she creates. Finally, she outwits them and they never copy her hairdo again. 

As well as being a fun read, the takeaway in this book is teaching children about creativity, independence, self-confidence, imagination, and being daring. It could very well inspire them to the same actions.

So, as you’re writing your children’s story, think of the takeaway. What message do you want to instill in the reader?
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.
  
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Nov 28

Top 3 Draws of Traditionally Publishing Children’s Books

Children's Books and Traditional Publishing - Why?

While most of my children’s ghostwriting clients go the self-publishing route, about a quarter of them (maybe a little less) take on traditional publishing.

Why go traditional? What’s the draw?

The first reason is budget.

When dealing with children’s books, many authors don’t have the budget to hire an illustrator.

For a standard picture book, there are usually 12-14 interior illustrations. That’s the bare minimum. If the author wants an illustration on every page, then it’s double the amount.

If the author has a chapter book, then she’s looking at illustration for each chapter, at the very least. Thinking on the low end, if the author has 5,000 words, that should be divided into around ten chapters of about 500 words each. So that’s ten interior illustrations.

Even middle-grade books can use interior illustrations here and there, possibly for each chapter.

Granted, you can have different types of interior illustrations, such as half-pages and sketches, but it’s still an expense.

Then there are the front and back covers.

Using the illustrators I work with, the pricing ranges from $80 to $180 per interior illustration and $200+ for the front cover. Pricing is usually less for the back cover. And these illustrators are very reasonable.

I’ve had clients who have paid $10,000 and more for illustrations.

So, it’s easy to see that having to pay for illustrations can get expensive.

On the flip side, the children’s author doesn’t need to pay for illustrations with traditional publishing. The publishing house uses its own illustrators and covers the expense.

This is a huge deal and is a major draw of traditional publishing.

The second draw is the prestige and validation associated with traditional publishing.

While I’m self-published and traditionally published, let’s face it, they don’t hold the same weight. That’s just the way it is.

The primary reason for this is that a lot of self-published books aren’t professional.

With the ease of self-publishing, anyone can slap a book together without knowing how to write and put it up for sale.

These authors make it bad for authors who take the time to learn the craft of writing and create a professional book.

Although, the old stigma associated with self-publishing is easing a bit.

The third draw is it’s all done for you.

Most authors, especially the newbies, don’t know how to go about self-publishing. Having a publishing company do everything for no cost is extremely alluring.

Just keep in mind the legwork and patience involved:

A. The author needs to create a query and synopsis of the book
B. The author needs research publishers and agents that deal with the particular genre
C. The author needs to submit the manuscript
D. The author needs to wait for a bite, which is not guaranteed
E. An accepted manuscript can take 18-24 months before it’s actually published.

But aside from the work and time involved, if the author gets a book contract, she has a professional group behind her. She can rest assured she’ll have a professional book.

So, these are the top three reasons why some children’s authors prefer going the traditional path.

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 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

What’s Stopping You from Becoming a Children’s Author

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

Your Story Beginning

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Nov 21

Writing Opportunities and Inspiration Through Television and News

Writing inspiration is all around us

By Regina Montana

I consider myself an animal lover which is why they often find their way into my stories and poems as main characters.

Then, I read a newspaper headline “Animals rescued from California fires.” I knew that this had real potential for a poem or picture book. It was filled with emotion for me.

I never realized how many animals could be affected by wildfires until I read this article. Bears often get burned since their instinct tells them to climb trees when there is danger. Many of the injuries are the same: burns, dehydration, respiratory problems, traumatic lesions, and starvation.

I’m always amazed at the brilliant work that scientists and veterinarians do to care for all creatures, great and small. Maybe I could in some way figure out a way to bring this story to light. I had already written a free verse poem called “A Giant Turtle Rescue” about the rescue of sea turtles in south Texas early this year when the waters turned frigid and the people of South Padre Island all came together to rescue the turtles. I also did a sketch of the turtles saluting the people who saved them.

At one point, my mentor and children’s book author Randi Mrvos suggested I try to write a non-fiction article for a children’s magazine.

Listening to the local news one night, I heard about The Hudson River Eel Project. This was a type of citizen scientist project designed to involve adults and college students in local environmental work. The project had been in existence for about 10 years, and the purpose was to track the migration pattern of the American Eel which then helped scientists study the health of the Hudson River.

I was never really enamored of eels. Until, that is, I heard about their amazing journey. They ride ocean currents as tiny larvae born in the middle of the Sargasso Sea in the Atlantic Ocean to the shores of North America.

This motivated me. I was determined to write an article that would change kids’ minds about this creepy creature that has been around for millions of years. Once complete, I submitted it.

Recently a major newspaper wrote to me saying my article is still with the editorial department which may consider publishing it in the coming months. I remain ever hopeful that this story will amaze young readers as it did this 72-year-old grandmother (at the time.)

Did I mention I had to hike down a fairly steep embankment with a torn meniscus in my left knee, fearful that at any minute I could fall into the fairly frigid water of this Hudson River tributary? Thankfully, I did not fall, but kept a tight grip on a rope that helped us get down into the water.

We counted baby larvae that got trapped in nets called fykes. They were subsequently carried in a pail as we walked past a damn and released them into the tributary. Now they were ready to swim upstream and grow into adult eels, many 3-4 feet in length. Then they swim back out to the Sargasso Sea, the only place where they spawn and die.

So always keep an open mind when you read the news, in print or online, or turn on the television. The main character for your next picture book, magazine article, or poem may be waiting. It might even be the story of tiny larvae riding the currents of the Atlantic Ocean, then heading up and down North American rivers and growing into adult eels. And they’ve been doing this for millions of years.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Contributor to Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi

Regina is a children’s literature writer of poems and picture books. She has written for the ezine Kids Imagination Train, and is a member of Children’s Book Insider where she contributed two articles to, as well as a member of SCBWI. Regina is also a teacher with a Master of Education Degree. She has raised two children of her own and is now a grandmother of 5 who give her lots of ideas when she listens carefully.

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

5 Must-Know Tips to Help Revise Your Story

Writing for Children: Enjoy the Journey

Scenes and How to Make Them Work

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Nov 10

Children’s Book Mastery 2021

Writing for children

I’ve been so busy, I haven’t had a chance to mention that I’m a speaker at the Children’s Book Mastery 2021.

Want to ask me something about writing for children?

Well my workshop probably covers it. The title is: The Ins and Outs of Children’s Books Genres, Age Groups, Writing and Craft.

And, there’s a 12-page give away: How Do You Plan a Children’s Story.

It covers plot, story structure, characters, setting, conflict, rising action, climax, and resolution. Then it goes into theme and the feel of your story, which covers tone, mood, and style. There’s a lot packed into these 12 pages.

THERE’S LOTS AND LOTS MORE

You can learn the biggest secrets to children’s book author success from the experts at this event. Find out who the speakers are and what the session topics are right NOW at the Children’s Book Mastery 2021!

My workshop is LIVE and there are over 30 other Masterclass workshops.

The summit is on until the 13th and then the 14th and 15th are encore days. So check it out quick!

JUST CLICK THE LINK BELOW:

Writing for children
Oct 31

Every Writer Needs a Strong Critique Group

The benefits of writing critiques

Contributed by Maryellen Annese

When I first started writing, one of the best pieces of advice I got was to join a critique group. Thankfully, when I joined SCBWI, I found a group of picture book writers who met monthly to critique their works in progress. Over the last few years, I have learned so much from them. I have changed and I have grown as a writer, with their helpful guidance and advice. I strive to be a good critique partner too. I’ve found that when I look at a critique partner’s story, I follow the same structure each time:

1) Read the story all the way through first- ideas may pop into my head but I need to get a sense of the story, the whole story, before commenting.

2) Sit on it. I find my best ideas are found upon reflecting on the story for a few hours at least.

3) When I return to the story, I often ask myself these questions:

  • Does the story’s main character reflect a child? Does the problem or issue the character has reflect something a child could relate to?
  • Is there an emotional arc to the story? Has the character changed in some way?
  • Are there places where the text could be cut in order for the illustrator to be creative?
  • Any repeated words? Cliché phrases? Too much telling not showing?
  • Does the opening line grab?
  • Is the ending satisfying?

4) Critique time. I approach critiques the same way I do with parent-teacher conferences. Start out with the positives. Comment on everything that is working. Then discuss the questions above and any related comments- any areas to improve. Finally, come full circle and finish with something positive.

I am still learning every day, but so far this approach has been working for me. Every week, I check out at least 10 new picture books from the library in hopes that by reading more and more in our genre, I can become not only a better writer, but a better critique partner.

Critique Groups/SCBWI

I was recently asked how I would measure the value of my critique group. My answer: immeasurable!

I have been involved with the same critique group for about two years now. I found them by joining SCBWI and connecting with writers in my local chapter. We have six members in our critique group. Each month, members can submit a manuscript they have been working on. We zoom on the second Friday of the month to discuss. The feedback I have gotten from my critique groups have been stellar and I have learned a TON from them.

For some people, including myself, it is hard to hear criticism about your “baby”. After each revision on any given manuscript, I always feel like I’m done. Thank GOD I have my writing group. They bring me back to Earth in a nice way and give excellent feedback to help take my work to the next level.

Of course, not everything that is said in the group I will use or change in my work. But when multiple people bring up the same issue- then I know I need to work on something. My manuscripts would not be nearly as polished if it weren’t for them.

People who say that “it takes a village” to raise a child, may not know that this also applies to writing a book. My village of supporters in my writing journey is quite vast. Recently, a writer friend was giving me feedback on my manuscript for my picture book biography. She said that readers should not just learn the history of my topic, but should be inspired by it. This really changed the way I looked at my story.

Critique groups can be hit or miss from what I’ve heard. But when you find the right people, you just know. My biggest piece of advice for new writers- join SCBWI and find a critique group!

Write What You Love–Love What You Write

I have always admired picture book groups like 12×12 where the goal is to write one picture book manuscript for each month of the year. Although I have never tried it, I have a hard time imagining myself coming up with a good enough idea for every month of the year. As of March 2021, I have been on my writing journey for almost 3 years and have written six polished picture book manuscripts.

As I reflect on the writing process in each of those pieces, some of them have been more motivating than others. My first manuscript, I had the concept idea first and spent nearly a year and a half painstakingly polishing it.

For another MS, I had the catchy title idea first and wrote the story around that. After one or two revisions, I put it to bed. But certain ideas that really have grabbed me, have driven me to continue with this process. I’ve been working on my picture book biography for over a year now. The subject of this bio was blessed upon me from my students. But I was so taken with this subject that I couldn’t —and won’t— give up on the protagonist until his story is told. I have been motivated to revise, revise and revise some more with that story. I truly love this topic.

Certain stories I have written, I have procrastinated FOREVER to look at again after a critique. I just didn’t love those ideas as much. But when the idea really hits you and it’s something you identify with, you will enjoy the writing process that much more. It’s just like falling in love- you just know. When I write about what I love, then I really love writing.

Props to all the 12x12ers. You inspire me. Maybe someday I will work up the courage to join you. But for now, I am digging for the gold that is those ideas that I really believe in, which brings so much enjoyment for me to write.

This article was first published at:
https://maryellenannese.weebly.com/writing-tips.html

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Maryellen Annese was raised in Croton-on-Hudson, NY. She studied Elementary Education at Loyola College (now Loyola University) in Baltimore and received her MA from Johns Hopkins U. in Reading and ENL instruction. She’s taught various ages of elementary education for 11 years. She is also a kidlit creator and ha written fiction and non-fiction picture book manuscripts and #amquerying. She is currently a volunteer for the Eastern NY region of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). If Maryellen wasn’t writing or teaching, and could have any talent in the world, she’d be a professional singer playing the role of Angelica Schuyler in Hamilton.

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.

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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Oct 24

The Children’s Ghostwriter: Who, How, and Why

The Who, How and Why

A while ago, I had a conversation with a fellow attendee at a children picture book workshop. When I mentioned I’m a children’s ghostwriter she was curious how I got started in the field.

I couldn’t answer her. I couldn’t remember how it actually came about.

Thinking back, though, I did start out editing for authors. Many of the manuscripts I was given was in such poor condition, I ended up rewriting the stories, some almost to the point of ghostwriting.

It just seemed to evolve from there.

In case you’re wondering, a ghostwriter is a writer who will take your idea, notes, outline, or other information and write a story for you. And, ghostwriters write in every genre you can think of: fiction, nonfiction, memoirs, screenplays, video, TV scripts, technical, medical, speeches, music, and so on.

The ghostwriter offers a nondisclosure agreement and freelance agreement. And, she usually doesn’t get any recognition for her work. Although, there are instances where the ghostwriter and client agree to other terms.

Two other terms that may arise between a ghostwriter and client:

The ghostwriter has her name on the book as co-author for a reduced fee.

The ghostwriter gets a percentage of the sales, again for a reduced fee.

In my opinion, it’s never a good idea to accept either of these terms. Well, that is unless you absolutely know the book will be successful or the author is famous.

Who hires a children’s ghostwriter?

The answer to this question always amazes me.

There are people from around the world who want to be author of a children’s book but don’t have the skills or time to do it themselves.

I’ve worked with well over 300 clients from lots of different countries, including Italy, the United Kingdom, Scotland, Norway, Saipan, Jordon, Dubai, and all over the United States, even Hawaii.

It seems most often it’s parents or grandparents who develop a desire to be an author of a children’s book. Usually, they want to have a story created about their children or grandchildren, or they want to impart some wisdom to children.

I’ve worked with child therapists and child psychologists who use children’s books as a tool to broaden their ability to help children.

I’ve also worked with teachers and principals who want to teach children beyond the boundaries of their school or classroom.

And, then there are the business people who see a children’s book as part of a marketing strategy for the industry they’re in or as an addition to a product they already have.

In addition to this, I’ve worked with clients who wanted a series of children’s books to use as the foundation of a new business.

I’ve even ghostwritten for a dentist.

What skills does a children’s ghostwriter need?

  1. Being a skilled writer.

While a number of authors who self-publish have the “I want it now” syndrome and ‘wing’ their books into publication, you can’t do this when someone is paying you to write a professional story.

Aside from knowing how to write, it’s essential to know the specific rules of writing for children. The ghostwriter needs to know what the current industry guidelines are.

  1. Knowing how to listen.

Listening carefully to the client is a must. The ghostwriter needs to take simple things like an idea given over the phone or in an email, notes, or a basic outline and create an engaging and publishable book.

Along with this, the writer needs to ensure the book reflects the client’s voice and vision. Listening is an essential factor in doing this.

  1. Being patient.

It may seem unusual, but a ghostwriter needs to be patient.

I’ve had a couple of clients who approved a final story, then came back in a week or two and decided they wanted revisions.

I had a middle-grade client who kept putting multiple POVs within one chapter. I’d edit it, and he’d change it.

I had another client who pretty much kept ignoring my advice as I rewrote his young adult novel.

It’s important to be patient and tactful while explaining over and over why something doesn’t work. The reason to keep after the client is that it’s the ghostwriter’s job to make sure the final product is professional.

  1. Being organized and focused.

I usually handle more than one project at a time. At one point, I worked on eight projects simultaneously.

If you’re dealing with multiple clients, you need to be able to switch stories and sometimes genres without losing a beat. This takes focus… and flexibility while handling all he emails from clients.

For organization, I use a Word and excel file for each client. I keep track of every email and every phone call.

Any time you’re dealing with writing clients, you need to keep things moving smoothly and keep your clients satisfied and in-the-loop throughout each project.

  1. Having the ability to follow through, and be on time.

As with any writing project, you’ve got to complete it and come in on time.

In the terms of the agreement, there is a time period for the project to be complete. The ghostwriter must meet the deadline.

Above all else, a ghostwriter wants to make sure her client is thrilled with the final product.

What’s the motivation?

I can’t speak for all children’s ghostwriters, but for me, I love writing for children. It’s satisfying to teach children, engage them, amaze them, bring them on adventures, and stretch their imaginations.

And, I love helping others fulfill a desire they have to see their children’s story ideas come to life.

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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Oct 17

5 Must-Know Tips to Help Revise Your Story

Editing and revisions are a major part of writing.

Contributed by Linda Wilson

Now that the first draft of the second book in the Abi Wunder Mystery series, Secret in the Mist, is done, I can get to work. As author Michael Crichton has said, “writing is all about rewriting, which can be depressing, especially when after the seventh rewrite you find that’s still not working.” In other words, “books aren’t written, they’re re-written.”

Most helpful is a study of the charts that Kate Messner has created to use in her revision process. Before I studied Messner’s charts, I relied on lists, which is what I’m using for Mist. When I begin the third and last book in the Abi Wunder Mystery series, Secrets of the Heart, I plan to switch over to my own version of Messner’s chart system.

Get the First Draft Down

When I wrote the first book, Secret in the Stars, I spent too much time writing and editing what I wrote, all the way through the manuscript. That process turned out to be extremely inefficient. It made the book take a long time to write. This is what I advise after writing Mist:

• Leave your editor’s cap at the door and write your book straight through without any interruptions.
• Let the draft sit at least five days.
• Do a read-through or general revision, editing for word choice, obvious additions and deletions; in short, anything you see that needs improving.
• Let the draft sit.

Analyze your Story: Make a List

• Get Organized: First on the list is to take stock of ideas that occur to you while writing the first draft. I wish I could say I made a neat list of my ideas. I didn’t. The ideas appeared on whatever paper was available at the time the idea struck. Still, after sifting through the piles of papers in my office, I’m glad I saved them. Examples: Abi hears a faint whistle every time the ghost appears. This “aha” moment came to me while watching a movie on TV and hearing that whistle. I put to use that terrific little scrap of paper.
• Another example is my note: “Keep personal stakes high,” a reminder I had heard at an SCBWI Zoom meeting. I began a revision with this in mind, and that pass turned out to be the second major revision.

Create Arcs for each Character

Making character arcs are not only fun and informative, but necessary. I like to make diagrams with brief descriptions of how the characters have progressed and grown through the story. The example I like to use is the thirty-five pages in Book 1 where the dog Star was missing. It was a noticeable gap, which I filled in. In Book 2, I’ve completed the arc for Angel, an antagonist, who doesn’t appear in Book 3.

List the scenes

It is, of course, important to make sure the scenes are varied and interesting. Also, keeping track of the scenes helps you make sure the story is moving forward and doesn’t contain any “dead” spots. When Chris Eboch, a professional editor and prolific author who happily belongs to my SCBWI-NM chapter, edited Book 1, she came to a lovely chapter near the end about kittens that the two main characters were given.

But, and that’s a big but, the scene didn’t move the story forward. I had to take the entire chapter out, painful as it was after having a professional photographer take my picture with two kittens at a pet store. The good news is that the photo with the kittens is a fun one for my website, and the chapter can be used in my promo materials, hopefully to help touch children’s hearts.

List Plot Points

For this most important analysis, structure becomes important. I learned how to structure my stories in a fiction writing course I took, which followed Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero’s Journey.”

• Make a diagram of your plot points using Cambpell’s diagram. Make sure your story has the structure it needs.

Check for Accuracy

Any information included in your book can be true or close to the truth. I mention the Alleghany Mountains in both Book 1 and 2, and made sure the setting was oriented correctly with the mountains set to the west. Many parts of both books needed to be researched for authenticity, such as in Book 1, a sheriff’s and deputy’s uniforms, the color of hard hats worn by different types of contractors; and in Book 2, Quakers who moved from Pennsylvania and settled in Loudoun County, Virginia in the 1800s, studied in order to help shape the personality of the ghost.

Release your book to your beta readers and a professional editor only after it is as polished as you can get it, after you’ve gone through your checklist of edits.

This article was first published at: https://www.writersonthemove.com/2021/01/revision-5-tips.html

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Linda Wilson lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She has two daughters, Kim and Tracy, who inspired her stories when they were younger. Linda is the editor of the New Mexico Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators newsletter, and has written posts for the Writers on the Move blog since 2013. She is a classical pianist and loves to go to the gym. But what Linda loves most is to make up stories and connect with her readers. Find out more by visiting Linda’s website at https://www.lindawilsonauthor.com.

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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Oct 10

Writing for Children: Enjoy the Journey

Tips on your writing for children journey

Contributed by Regina Montana

Writing for children can be a wild ride. It is full of ups and downs, but success will depend on your tenacity to stay on that bucking bronco. Remember those scenes of cowboys holding on for dear life and then getting thrown off if the bronco was too hot to handle? Maybe this analogy is a slight exaggeration but in some ways it is not.

I’ve been on this bronco ride for about eleven years now. As I write about what it takes to stay on this amazing journey and hopefully become a published author, a few essentials come to mind:

  1. Believe in the message of your story. And not just believe, but be passionate about children reading this very unique book.
  2. Remain positive and don’t get bogged down with the rejections that inevitably will come. It’s all part of becoming a good writer. Be your own best friend. Talk kindly to yourself and celebrate small steps along the way.
  3. Read as many books as possible in the genre you want to write in. You can often find picture books read aloud on YouTube so a trip to your local library is not necessary.
  4. Attend webinars and join the many online writing groups and magazines including SCBWI and CBI. They will help you navigate the world of children’s literature. Find a mentor or critique group to bounce ideas off of.
  5. Write for at least a half hour every day. Keep a journal and write whatever comes into your head without editing. Feed your soul often by taking a walk alone and allow your imagination to wander. You might just get inspired and meet your main characters along the way. Remember: Ideas are everywhere. You must remain open.
  6. When your manuscript is finished, have it professionally critiqued by at least 4 people or services. There are many to be recommended. Develop a thick skin since it’s in your own best interest to have multiple sets of eyes reading your story.
  7. Try to find joy along the way. This journey is not for the faint of heart. If your expectations are not too many out of the gate, you can take your time, learn to write well and accept professional advice. You might just become a published author one day. The emphasis is on “one day.”
  8. Keep some inspiring words, figures or sources of inspiration nearby to look at. A figurine of my main character Sophie, a rescued tortoise, sits on my table as I write her story.

Below are my favorite books for beginning writers:

The Artist’s Way- Julia Cameron
Take Joy – Jane Yolen
Bird by Bird – Anne Lamott
Writing Picture Books – Ann Whitford Paul

Hope you find them helpful too.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Contributor to Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi

Regina Montana is a children’s literature writer of poems and picture books. She has written for the ezine Kids Imagination Train, and is a member of Children’s Book Insider where she contributed two articles to, as well as a member of SCBWI. Regina is also a teacher with a Master of Education Degree. She has raised two children of her own and is now a grandmother of 5 who give her lots of ideas when she listens carefully.

Children's ghostwriter

Check out my 200+ page ebook (or paperback) that gives you all the basics of HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S FICTION BOOK. It’s newly revised and includes information on finding a publisher or agent and marketing your books.

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