Apr 18

3 Fiction Writing Mistakes to Avoid

Contributed by Suzanne Lieurance

A few mistakes in your fiction can often make the difference between a very good manuscript and a not-so-good one that is rejected by publishers.

Below are just three of the most common mistakes in fiction that I see day after day as a writing instructor and writing coach:

1) Overuse of participle phrases to begin a sentence.

A participle phrase usually begins with a word that ends in the letters “ing.”

There is nothing wrong with beginning a sentence with a participle phrase.

But when you do it too often, it begins to draw attention to itself and distract the reader from the action of the story.

Like this:

Reaching behind her, Mary grabbed her backpack and ran straight for the woods. Pushing branches and tangled vines out of her way, she was able to find the foot path. But a snake was stretched out across it. Turning around quickly and searching for another way through the forest, she suddenly heard someone call out her name.

Notice how clunky that sounds.

When you finish writing a story, go back over it and circle all the sentences that begin with a participle phrase.

If you have several of these phrases on each and every page, change most of them.

Like this:

Mary reached behind her and grabbed her backpack, then she ran straight for the woods. She pushed branches and tangled vines out of her way until she was able to find the foot path. But a snake was stretched out across it, so she turned quickly and searched for another way through the forest. Suddenly, she heard someone call out her name.

2) Dislocating or projecting body parts.

Yes, many writers actually do this in their stories.

The most common example of this is when characters’ eyes leave their bodies.

Here’s what I mean:

I was angry at my brother. I shot my eyes across the room at him and gave him a dirty look.

Yikes!

Was the poor brother left holding those eyeballs, or were they just stuck on the front of his shirt or something?

3) Dialogue that is punctuated incorrectly.

The most common example is when characters laugh words.

They simply can’t do this.

Try it yourself.

Can you laugh and speak at the same time?

Not really.

Yet, when you use a comma to separate the dialogue tag from the dialogue itself, you are indicating the words were laughed.

Here’s an example:

“I’d never try that in a million years,” laughed Denise.

To avoid this mistake, simply use a period after the dialogue, creating two separate sentences.

Like this:

“I’d never try that in a million years.” Denise laughed.

Each of these mistakes is easy to correct.

But now that you’re aware of them they should be easy to avoid in the first place!

Try it!

Suzanne Lieurance is a freelance writer, author, and writing coach.

For more writing tips and resources for writers, visit writebythesea.com, and don’t forget to get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge.

This article was first published at: https://www.writersonthemove.com/2020/02/3-mistakes-to-avoid-when-writing-fiction.html

Children's ghostwriter

Whether you need help with ghostwriting or 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 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

Children’s Writing – Creating your Main Character P1

Secondary Characters – Are They Important?

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

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Apr 11

Proofreading and A Harder to Read Font

Whether you’re writing a children’s book, a novel, a blog post, or anything else, every author wants it to be error free.

No matter what you’re writing, the first step to get there is to edit and proofread your content.

If you’re submitting a manuscript to a literary agent or book publisher, it’s essential for it be polished. And it’s just as important if you’re self-publishing.

Well, according to Shane Frederick from Yale University, along with the your initial edit and proofreading, you need to read your manuscript in a more difficult font.

Frederick developed a simple 3 question or riddle test to reveal how students think and how it’s easy for the brain to miss things, including the right answer. The first response of the brain is to choose the simplest answer, the quickest one.

When it comes to proofreading, as Arial or New Times Roman are the most commonly used fonts, it’s advised to change your manuscript’s font to Monotype or Comic Sans Italicized. Using these more difficult to read fonts will reveal problems you skipped over in the font you usually use.

When the brain has to work harder to read and understand something, what you’re reading is better absorbed and retained.

Check out the video:

It’s an interesting phenomenon. Give it a try.

NEED HELP WITH YOUR STORY?

Whether you need help with ghostwriting or 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 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

Book Marketing – The Foundation

How to Write a Story

Traditional Publishing and the Author Platform – Be Realistic

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Mar 28

The Writing for Children Ropes – 8 Tips

I always enjoyed writing. I’ve written poems, short stories, even songs. And although I enjoyed writing, I never thought of publishing my work or making it a career until around 2007.

As a novice, I figured it’d be a breeze – easy peasy. I mean how difficult could it be to write simple children’s stories?

Since I always felt comfortable writing, I thought it be a natural transition. Writing was something I always went to when in awe, when being inspired, or during struggles. And, I was always able to think of things to write about.

So, I began the process of actually writing children’s books with the intent of having them published.

My eyes were quickly opened. Another world sat before me, one filled with a lot of hard work, time, road blocks, and rejection letters.

While I did minor in English Lit in college, it had been many years ago. Along with this, it’s not really the background specifically needed in writing for children or writing to get published in the market at the time … or now.

To write for children …

  • You need to know what the current market wants.
  • You need to know techniques such as the Core of Threes and having the protagonist solve the problem, not the parent or grandparent.
  • You have to know showing is a must, and telling should be limited.
  • You need to have the right sentence structure along with proper grammar and punctuation.
  • Your words and dialogue must be age appropriate.
  • You need to have an age-appropriate plot.
  • There should be only ONE point of view, one main character.
  • Your main character needs to grow in some way as a result of his journey.
  • You need to watch out for blind spots in your writing. Spots where you know what you intended to be conveyed, but the reader won’t.
  • You need to understand and utilize words such as tighten, good voice, focus, point of view, hook, and lots of other writing elements. It goes on and on and on.

Well then, just how do you learn all the information needed to write for children, especially if you don’t want to get a degree in children’s literature or are unable to enroll in a school specifically geared toward this subject?

The answer is the internet.

Sounds easy, right?

Well, think again. Since I’ve gotten my Bachelor’s degree, I’ve taken a few college courses and other courses long distance and online and I can tell you that learning a subject in a classroom is much easier than learning through other means.

And, learning on your own with the internet is even more difficult and very time consuming.

Why is it so hard?

The reason for the difficulty is there are thousands and thousands of websites and blogs that offer children’s writing information.

You’d think this is a good thing, but not everyone online knows what they’re talking about. For this reason, it’s important to use common sense when searching for information.

Make sure the site is current and posts content regularly. Another must is to research the blog owner. Does she have published books? Traditionally?

Is she in the business of writing or a hobby writer?

Another difficulty is that finding good sites can be time consuming.

If possible, get recommendations from other authors or folk in your writing groups.

So, what can you do to ease into this?

  1. Writing Groups

Your first order of business is to join a children’s writing group. One of the best is Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). There are new and seasoned people in the business of writing there who are willing and able to help. This is also a good place to network.

You can also do an online search for other groups.

  1. Critique Groups

Next on your plan should be to join a children’s writing critique group. You’ll be able to find one in SCBWI.

  1. Writer Conferences

It’d be a good idea to attend writer conferences. Some of the bigger ones are:

SCBWI Annual Conferences
The Highlights Foundation Workshop Retreats
Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference
Northwestern Christian Writers Conference

You can also do a search for others. Just be sure to look at dates. I’ve found a number of sites that list events that are outdated – by years.

  1. Writing Workshops and Webinars

There are also a number of sites that offer online writing whether workshops, zoom meetings, or others.

MasterClass
SCBWI
WOW! Women on Writing
JaneFriedman.com
WritersDigest.com
Gotham Writing Workshop

The workshops and sites mentioned in this article may not all focus directly on writing for children, but they will offer great writing information.

  1. Blogs

Another source of advice is children’s writing tips is children’s editors, publishers and agents’ blogs. Often, you’ll get great tips and information.

Find reliable and well-established sites. An excellent one is GoodStoryCompany.com and KidLit.com with Mary Kole.

Here are a few others:

Steve Laube Agency
Caitlin Derve
Truby’s Writing Studio
Children’s Book Insider
The Write Practice
Writer’s Digest
Writers Helping Writers.net
Writers on the Move.com

  1. Books on Writing for Children

Below are a few:

How to Write a Children’s Fiction Book by Karen Cioffi
The Magic Words by Cheryl Klein
The Business of Writing for Children by Aaron Shepard
How to Write a Children’s Book by Katie Davis and Jan Fields
Yes! You Can Learn to Write Children’s Books by Nancy I. Sanders

  1. Read, Read, Read

Read writing books and books in the genre you want to write.

Pay close attention to the books in your genre as you read.

What do you like about the book? How did the author convey emotion? How did the author hook you? How were the sentence, paragraphs, and chapters written?
How was the dialogue written? How did the story flow? Who was the protagonist? How did s/he grow through the journey?

Pick up on everything you can.

  1. Industry Standards Matter

Keep up with the industry standards. What are traditional children’s publishers and literary agents looking for? What’s being published? What are the standard word counts for the different genres? What books are winning valid awards?

This matters whether you’re traditionally publishing or self-publishing. You want a professional book. One that screams that the author knows what she’s doing.

While the world of writing for children can feel overwhelming, it can also be very rewarding. Take the time to learn the ropes so you can create a publishable book. And, create a time management plan.

Keep on learning; keep adding tools to your writing toolbox.

With hard work and perseverance, you can write a children’s book that you’ll be proud to be the author of and one that will be publishable as well as marketable.

Children's ghostwriter

Whether you need help with ghostwriting or 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 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

Self-Publishing: 3 Perks and 4 Warnings

What is an Author Platform – How Do You Build It?

Small Home-Grown Book Publishers – Good or Bad?


Mar 21

Are You Overthinking Your Story?

As a children’s ghostwriter I work and have worked with a lot of clients.

What I’ve noticed over the years is that some authors can’t stop overthinking their story.

So, what does ‘overthinking’ a story mean?

Well, it means a number of things from not being able to see a manuscript ready for publication to overthinking a sentence or the storyline.

Working with over 300 clients, it’s interesting that only a handful had trouble realizing when the story was complete.

They’d want to add this or add that, not realizing less with young readers is more.

Overall, though, the majority of my clients overthink at the sentence level.

For example, I have one client who questions every duplicate word within a paragraph.

Now, it’s true that choosing the right words is essential for writing, especially writing for children. But there are some words that will need to be repeated whether for emphasis or because the word is simply needed – there may not be a suitable synonym for it.

If you look at the paragraph above, there are words that are repeated: that, words, writing, and for.

Words like conjunctions, determiners, and so on are also factors to consider.

A conjunction is a word that’s used to connect words, phrases, and clauses.

Such words include: and, but, for, if, when, and because.

Examples:

I’ll go to the store if it’s not raining out.
I’d go to the story, but it’s raining out.

Determiners are words that go before a noun to indicate quantity (e.g., two boys, a lot of dogs). These words are in two classes: an article (the, a/an) and a demonstrative (those, they, this, few, several, that).

An example (notice the determiner, that):

Can you pass me that book?

While often it is possible to rewrite your sentences to avoid repeating words, sometimes it just doesn’t work.

But I’m going astray.

Along with the sentences, clients also overthink the storyline and the characters.

The author may want to fit too much into a young children’s book. They may want to include two different topics within one story. Or they may have too many characters.

When writing for the four to eight-year-old group, simplicity and clarity rules.

The young reader needs one plot and one main character. There can be a couple of other characters, like friends, siblings, or cousins being involved, but you really don’t want more than that.

Again, for the young reader, it’s all about simplicity and clarity.

Trust your ghostwriter, or if you’re writing the story yourself, read a lot of traditionally published books in the genre you’re writing.

This will give you a feel for what good writing is.

You might also actually write out or type out the stories of some of the books you read as practice. It helps train your brain to recognize good writing.

Another strategy you might use if you’re writing the story yourself is to read a number of books on writing skill, take a children’s writing course, or you can hire a children’s writing coach.

Children's ghostwriter

Whether you need help with ghostwriting or 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 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

Are All Children’s Books Meant to Become Books?

Hiring a Ghostwriter for Your Picture Book? Are Illustrations Included?

Writing Plot Twists into Your Story

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Mar 07

Story, Plot, and Arcs

Lately, I’ve received a few picture book manuscripts from potential clients who wanted quotes on editing.

Once I read over the stories, I quickly knew they weren’t editing projects because there were no actual stories. They were a list of events or scenes.

It seems to be a common problem with new authors who don’t take the time to learn the very basics of writing a story.

So, what exactly is a story and plot?

An article at The Write Practice uses a quote from E. M. Forster to explain the difference between story and plot: “The king died and then the queen died,” is a series of events and can be considered a story. “The king died, and then the queen died of grief,” is a plot.

The story is the basic storyline. It’s the overall description of the story.

In my middle-grade book, Walking Through Walls, the storyline is the protagonist wants to become rich and powerful, no matter what it takes.

The plot is in the details.

The plot of Walking Through Walls would be the protagonist wants to become rich and powerful, no matter what it takes, and he believes learning magic will get him there.

Another good example of story and plot is The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin.

The story: Within one hour, the protagonist thinks her husband died in a train crash. Having missed the train, he comes home and the protagonist drops dead.

The plot: The protagonist thinks her husband died in a train crash. Having missed the train, he comes home and the protagonist drops dead but it’s not from the shock of overwhelming joy.

Paints quite a different story, doesn’t it?

Now, if you have a series of events: Pickles the dog plays with a cat, then plays with a frog, then plays with a goat, then plays with a pig, you don’t have a story arc or character development. Again, this is a series of events.

I’ll have clients ask why something like the above isn’t a story. The dog is having lots of fun with different animals.

Well, if it was a concept book, teaching about animals, then it could work.

But if it’s to be a fiction story, it doesn’t work. The reason is it’s lacking a story arc and a character arc.

The story arc is the path the overall story takes. Every character in the story goes on this journey.

It’s also called the narrative arc.

According to a MasterClass article, the narrative arc “provides a backbone by providing a clear beginning, middle, and end of the story.”

The character arc on the other hand is the path the protagonist takes.

Just like the story, this arc takes the protagonist on a journey along with the reader.

The character arc is all about the protagonist. It’s him confronting a conflict or challenge, his attempts to overcome it, and his ultimate success. Through this character journey, the protagonist grows in some way. She may gain knowledge, become confident, rise up to challenges, become mature, or grow in some other way. But it’s essential there is growth, especially when writing for children.

So, going back to Pickles the dog, he, as the protagonist, has no conflict or challenge to overcome. He doesn’t grow in any way.

And as for the Pickles story, it’s flat. There’s no arc.

Readers won’t become invested in a series of events. They want to connect to the protagonist and root for him to overcome his obstacles. They want a full story arc and character arc.

NEED HELP WITH YOUR STORY?

Whether you need help with ghostwriting or 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 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

7 Steps to Writing Success Through Positive Thinking

Writing Elements – Is One More Important Than Another?

Submitting Your Ghostwritten Book to a Children’s Publisher

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Feb 28

Dialogue and Tags

Writing Tips

I’m rewriting a young adult book for a client. It’s over 100,000 words.

With that many words, the author felt compelled to mix up the dialogue tags.

That, though, is never a good idea.

Some of the tags he used were: spat, laughed, teased, smirked, joked, yawned, and sneered.

But my client isn’t the only one who doesn’t realize that there are specific words for dialogue tags. That might be because new authors aren’t familiar with the tag’s purpose.

So, what exactly is a dialogue tag?

According to The Write Practice, “they ‘tag’ the dialogue to a particular character. Also often referred to as an attribution, a dialogue tag is a small phrase either before, after, or in between the actual dialogue itself.”

That puts it pretty simple.

Dialogue tags are phrases that identify who is speaking. They are a must for clarity and in order to keep the reader in the know and involved in the story.

A few examples:

“What was that?” asked John.

“I couldn’t finish my homework,” John said.

John sat on the chair and said, “I give up.”

“If I go to the store,” John said, “I’ll pick up milk.”

So, you can see that dialogue tags are straight forward. They allow the reader to know who’s talking.

The basic tags are said and asked. These tags kind of become invisible to the reader. The reader can acknowledge who is talking while not thinking twice about the tag.

But when the basics just aren’t enough, you can also use whispered, shouted, mumbled. They should be used sparingly, though.

So, going back to dialogue tags that shouldn’t be used, I did a search and was surprised at the results.

One site had a list of dialogue tags that included, emitted, bubbled, chuckled, grinned, sang, smiled, and rejoiced.

Another site had grieved, mewled, bawled, blubbered, fretted, agonized, comforted, admired, hissed, soothed, glowered, placated, assented, tittered, and sobbed, stating they could be used as dialogue tags.

This may be one of the problems as to why some writers feel it’s okay to use these words.

A good way to think about whether a word can be used as a tag, is to think of the word and what it means.

You can’t blubber dialogue.
You can’t admire dialogue.
You can’t comfort dialogue.
You can’t sneer dialogue.
You can’t tease dialogue.
You can’t emit dialogue.
You can’t spit dialogue.

Dialogue tags and adverbs.

This is another common problem that can arise with dialogue and tags – the use of adverbs.

My client did a lot of this also.

Using an adverb after a tag looks like this:

“Don’t bother getting up,” John said angrily.

“You’re beautiful,” John said admiringly.

“Get out of my chair,” John said disgruntled.

Instead of using adverbs, the sentence or paragraph should show how the character is feeling.

Here’s an example:

Ellen couldn’t open her eyes. Crying all night left them swollen and achy. “How could this happen?” she whispered.

Showing what’s going on allows the reader to know how she’s feeling. You wouldn’t need to add “sadly” at the end of the tag.

Do you always have to use dialogue tags?

Another question that can come up about dialogue tags is whether they have to be used all the time.

The answer is, no, as long as it’s clear who’s speaking.

John shook his head. “No way. I’m not going.”

“You’ve got to,” said Pete.

“No, I don’t.”

In this simple example you can see that only one of the dialogue’s has a tag.

The first one notes who’s talking by using: John shook his head.

The dialogue that comes after that is from John.

The third dialogue line is John responding to Pete. As there are only two characters in the scene, the reader will know John is speaking.

Writing dialogue is easy once you get the hang of it.

A good way to learn how to write dialogue with proper tags is to read a lot of traditionally published books. Pay attention to the dialogue and tags.

It’s not that I’m putting down self-published books, I’ve self-published two books. The problem is not all self-published books are done professionally.

Traditionally published books have professionals editing them; they have gatekeepers to ensure the story is quality. They know the ropes and it’s important to learn from books that are done right.

Writing Help

Whether you need help with ghostwriting or 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 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

Why Do You Want to Write a Children’s Book?

When Is It Time to Let Your Manuscript Fly?

The Hardest Part of Writing is Actually Starting

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Feb 21

Writing Skill Versus Talent

I read a very interesting paper, Innate Talent: Myth or Reality? by Lynn Helding. It delved into whether you can truly succeed, become extraordinary in your field without innate talent.

It got me thinking of writing among other things, such as musicians and mathematicians.

Do some writers have an innate ability (talent) to create amazing and memorable stories?

Do the words just flow onto the page with less effort than the average writer?

Can a writer with an innate ability come up with storylines when needed without staring at the computer or pulling their hair out?

If you don’t possess that innate talent, can you become a skilled writer and produce works as outstanding as someone who has talent or is gifted?

Does practice and HARD work make up for innate talent?

While I’m not an expert in the field, in my humble opinion, I believe that people do possess certain innate abilities, whether that be talent, physical prowess, agility, exceptional intellect, or something else.

With that said, and aside from physical attributes, I don’t believe the lack of an innate talent in a particular area limits anyone from excelling in that area.

Jeff Goins in his article, The Truth About Natural-Born Talent, agrees with this. “Certainly, there may be some amount of natural talent for some abilities. But as Geoff Colvin pointed out in his book Talent Is Overrated, if talent does exist, it doesn’t really matter.”
https://goinswriter.com/talent-myth/

Goins goes on to say that it’s all about hard work, practice, consistency.

In an article at Fortune Magazine, Secrets of Greatness, it pretty much states the same thing. “You do not possess a natural gift for a certain job, because targeted natural gifts don’t exist. You are not a born CEO or investor or chess grandmaster. You will achieve greatness only through an enormous amount of hard work over many years. And not just any hard work, but work of a particular type that’s demanding and painful.”

Even the paper I mentioned at the beginning of this article concludes that innate talent is not what creates greatness. It’s the time, effort, and work one puts into a career.

On the flip side in the Fortune Magazine article, Warren Buffet said that he was, “wired at birth to allocate capital.” The article does note that Buffet devoted his life to studying his field.

What’s super-interesting in that article is that research shows that a lot of people who work hard for decades in a particular field may not achieve greatness.

The researchers found that it takes ‘deliberate practice’ and consistency to make the difference, to take one’s performance to the elite status.

As I mentioned, I do believe that some people do have something, an innate talent or physical attribute, that may make writing, playing an instrument or sports, or excelling in the business world come easier and allows them to become extraordinary in that area.

One example is the 7’2 basketball player. Won’t it naturally be easier for him to make a slam dunk than a 5’10 player could? But on the flipside, imagine that 7’2 guy trying to do gymnastics.

I guess the physical attributes may play more of a factor than innate talent. As research is showing, an average person can become great with hard work, deliberate practice, and consistency.

The innate talent may get the individual started and it may initially be easier for him, but, some with an innate talent won’t go on to greatness or develop expertise without putting in the work and time.

What do you think?

Children's ghostwriter

Whether you need help with ghostwriting or 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 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 Tips to Determine Your Audience and Target Market

Outlines and Character Details – Tips on Writing a Middle Grade Story

Writing Dialogue? Try These 5 Top Tips

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Feb 14

Believe in Yourself as a Writer

Contributed by Suzanne Lieurance

Are you struggling with a writing project that seems overwhelming?

All writers go through this at one time or another.

Usually it means that YOU—the writer—are not quite convinced you can pull off this particular book, article, novel, or whatever the project may be.

In fact, you probably spend precious energy second-guessing yourself thinking, What in the world did I get myself into this time?

But here’s the rub.

The project will only start to fall into place once YOU are convinced you can complete it.

So take a deep breath and relax.

Figure out why you’re struggling with this project and write down the problem(s).

For example—Do you have a too-tight deadline?

Does the project require intensive research and you’re overwhelmed with all the facts and figures you’ll need?

Are you spinning your wheels just trying to figure out how to get started?

Once you’ve figured out the real problems behind your struggle, take some steps to solve them.

For example, if you’re on a too-tight deadline, contact your editor right away and ask for more time.

Your editor wants quality work, and if you contact her now, rather than at the last minute, more than likely she won’t be upset about giving you more time.

Editors usually allow a little wiggle room for all projects anyway.

If your project requires intensive research, make a list of the source materials and experts you wish to use for this project.

Then, BEFORE you contact the experts, do enough research about the topic to develop a structure for the book or article you are trying to write.

You’ll have to do enough research to develop the topic headings, or chapter titles for your work.

But, once you’ve done that, THEN contact the experts with questions that relate to each of your topic or chapter titles.

That way, you’ll get quotes that relate closely to the material you already have for the project instead of lots of other material and quotes that will be difficult to work into your chapters or subtopics.

If you’re stuck at a point in your novel and you just can’t get your characters to move the story along, you probably don’t know the characters well enough and you’re trying to get them to do something they don’t want to do—or wouldn’t do if they were actual people.

Take one or two of the main characters and ask them some questions (yeah, this sounds crazy to people who aren’t writers, but I know YOU know what I mean).

Find out more about their backgrounds and you’ll learn more about their passions, desires, and fears, which will translate into motives and actions that will come naturally for these characters—and will be easier for you to write.

You really CAN complete that writing project that seems overwhelming.

YOU just have to believe it first.

Try it!

Suzanne Lieurance is a fulltime freelance writer, writing coach, and the author of over 35 published books. She offers more tips and resources for writers at writebythesea.com.

For more tips, resources, and other helpful information about writing and the business of writing, get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge.

Children's ghostwriter

Whether you need help with ghostwriting or 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 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

3 Reasons Editing Should Come Before Self-Publishing

Writing Success – Do You Really Have the Power?

Children’s Writing – Creating your Main Character Part 1

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Feb 07

How to Write a Children’s Fiction Book MBR Review

Book reviews help sell books.

They should be a part of every author’s marketing toolbox.

I’ve been fortunate to have a review of my book on Midwest Book Review Book Watch January 2021.

If you’re not familiar with them, they were established in 1976 and are committed to promoting literacy, library usage, and small press publishing. Their publications are specifically designed for community and academic librarians, booksellers, and the general reading public.

Okay, on to the MBR review.

How to Write a Children’s Fiction Book
Karen Cioffi
https://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com
Privately Published
9780999294918 $14.95 paperback, 262 pages
B0891PHML4, $6.99 Kindle

Children’s books are more complicated to write than they first appear. This practical and well-organized book has explanations and formulas for writing them, with examples. There is an assignment for each of the eight sections. An entire book may be written by consulting this text. Children’s target audiences and genres are included. If you need story ideas, the first chapter covers that right away. Cioffi shares that character and dialogue are significant as these must be convincing to the child. Language must be authentic with age-appropriate words. Plot, theme, the craft of writing, hiring help, researching publishers, self-publishing, marketing, and working with editors are covered. An extensive list of resources is provided. Cioffi’s comprehensive book is a must for children’s book authors.

Carolyn Wilhelm, Reviewer
Wise Owl Factory LLC
http://www.midwestbookreview.com/rbw/jan_21.htm#carolynwilhelm

Here’s another review.

This one by children’s author, Linda Wilson

A comprehensive guide that offers a step-by-step approach

Anyone wondering how to write for children and where to begin would benefit from Karen Cioffi’s book, How to Write a Children’s Fiction Book. A thorough reading of Cioffi’s book cover-to-cover would be an excellent way to begin the path to publication.

I started from scratch not knowing anything about writing for children and recently finished my first children’s book, the first in a series for young children. A lot of time—years—and effort would have been saved if I’d had this guide to follow.

Cioffi’s book begins with the most important aspects every children’s author needs to know, including how to choose your target audience, genre differences, and ten basic rules for writing for young children. The book then goes into detail, such as how to create a story, the use of dialogue, action, and imagery; and the all-important skill of showing vs. telling. Also, how to revise, edit and research; how to find a publisher; understanding contracts, and how to locate marketing resources.

The first draft of book two in my series is done, and even after studying children’s literature for many years, I have found that there’s no end to learning the craft. I made a major change in my draft due to advice I read in Cioffi’s book. So, even experienced authors can find reminders of the goals they’re striving for.

Cioffi’s book would be an excellent resource for any children’s author.
I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

CHECK OUT ALL HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S FICTION BOOK HAS TO OFFER: CLICK HERE!

Jan 31

Hang in There

Writers need to hang on.

“The longer you hang in there,
the greater the chance that something
will happen in your favor.
No matter how hard it seems,
the longer you persist,
the more likely your success.”
~ Jack Canfield

I originally posted this in February 2020 to let my readers know that I was taking a little break for a week or two … because of COVID-19. But with that in the past, I think the quote is a great reminder to persevere.

This means for life and for writing.

Career writers know that the writing business has it's ups and downs, like any other business. Hang in there.

It also goes for your writing in progress. Maybe you started a manuscript last year or two years ago and haven’t seemed to find the time to get back into it… to finish it. Persevere. Don’t give up on it. When you’re able, get back to your story.

Be well and stay safe!

NEED HELP WITH YOUR CHILDREN’S STORY? SEND ME AN EMAIL OR GIVE ME A CALL.