Sep 21

What Do Fiction Writing and Film Editing Have in Common?

Writing Fiction and Film Editing

I read an interesting article on editing. Well, not just editing, but how to do it effectively. Did you know that in “Apocalypse Now, Francis Ford Coppola filmed and edited thousands and thousands of feet of film. Mental Floss puts the footage at 1.5 million feet.” (1)

So, why did Coppola take so much footage?

He took that much so that he’d have plenty of room for cutting. He could pick and choose what would make each scene the best it could be.

This is the same with writing fiction.

You might want to write more than you need so when you get into the editing phase, you can choose what will work and what won’t work for each scene. You’ll have plenty of content to make choices and get it just right.

For more on editing, check out:

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

Revisions and Editing – Do a Verb and Word Check

3 Reasons Editing Should Come Before Self-Publishing

Reference:

(1) http://www.glimmertrain.com/bulletins/essays/b131boast.php

Children's ghostwriter

Let me take a look at your notes, outline, or draft. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter and rewriter. 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.

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Jan 20

Your Children’s Fiction Manuscript and a Ghostwriter

Working with a children's ghostwriter

Coming up with a fiction story idea is an amazing thing. Getting notes down or a basic outline is even more amazing.

Then for some authors, it’s time to hand it over. They realize they need professional help to bring the idea to life.

With this scenario, the ghostwriter pretty much has free range.

This is true because the client, the author, can envision the type of story they’d like, but they don’t have any investment in how to get it there.

While there’s an idea or a basic outline, the story isn’t told. The writer can weave her magic and create it, with the feedback of the author as they go along, of course.

But what happens when there’s a complete manuscript?

What happens when the author has taken the time and effort to not only come up with an idea, but has written the story? Whether it’s taken him a few months or a couple of years, it’s his baby. He’s brought it to life.

In this scenario, the author is fully invested in the story.

The problem is the author may not know how to write. And, even more important, she may not know anything about writing for children. It really is a different type of writing – lots more rules.

Thinking of a couple of quick examples:

– The author may own a kennel of dogs and wants to show each dog’s personality. Max is playful to the point of being hyper. Daisy loves being held and likes to cuddle. And, watch out for Dutch.

– The author is a professional and is determined, maybe even obsessed, on driving home what’s good for the child. Each scene tells the child what to do.

– The author has gone on an amazing journey or has a passion and wants to share it with children. He wants it to be fiction, but it reads more like a nonfiction story.

While writing a book based on these examples will satisfy the author, it won’t meet standard children’s book guidelines.

It’s not to say these ideas aren’t good ones, each of these scenarios can be kindling for an out-of-the-ballpark story … if it’s written right.

Hoping the author/client can let go.

What I’ve found is it can be tough rewriting a story, actually more difficult than ghostwriting from an idea or basic outline in some cases.

Some clients have on blinders. They want what they want whether it’s reader friendly or not. They just can’t let go of what they’ve written.

When this happens:

The writer often becomes a writing teacher.

The writer tries to explain why something in the story doesn’t work. Or, it may be even worse and the entire story is a problem.

She tries to explain the children’s writing rules that all books for children should adhere to.

She hopes the client is reasonable and understands. She hopes the client allows her to do her job.

The writer becomes a negotiator of sorts.

It can become a back and forth. The writer resorts to the, “Well, what if we do it this way?”

Unfortunately, the client has on blinders and wants what she wants. So, it’s back to, “Well, what if we do it this way instead?”

The writer just jumps in.

Knowing the story needs to be improved, the writer may just rewrite it into a publishable book.

This can be a gamble though.

It can be a waste of the writer’s time and effort if the client doesn’t like it. Then the writer has to go back to being a teacher and negotiator.

When the writer’s hands are tied.

It can become an ethical dilemma for the writer when the client doesn’t want to budge.

– Does the writer simply write the story the way the client wants even though she knows it’s not professional?

While the writer is being paid to write for the client, this isn’t always the best route to take. Although the writer’s name won’t be associated with the book, it’s a story being worked on and should be as professional as can be.

But there are some instances when the client just wants the book for personal or family use. In these cases, it’s the writer’s decision. I will take on the project.

– Does she walk away from the project after it’s started?

This is obviously a very individual decision, one that a professional writer doesn’t take lightly.

While I haven’t accepted projects because I knew they wouldn’t be publishable worthy, I’ve never had to walk away from an ongoing project.

I’ll teach and negotiate until the story is the way it should be. It takes more time and effort, but that’s okay.

Every situation is unique and the writer will need to decide what’s best.

Be a children's writer

Whether you need rewriting or ghostwriting, let me take a look at your 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!

Apr 08

Writing Fiction – What is Foreshadowing?

Fiction and Foreshadowing

Foreshadowing is a literary device used to make the reader wonder. It gives the story a sense of mystery or anticipation. It can also create tension.

According to Literary Devices (1), using this device, “a writer gives an advance hint of what is to come later in the story.”

Foreshadowing is a great device to keep the reader involved in the story and the characters.

There are a number of foreshadowing strategies. Below are four of them.

An Approaching Event

An example of this type of foreshadowing is in “Walking Through Walls.” Wang (the protagonist) listens as his friend, Chen, tell how neighboring warriors kidnapped his sister.

The reader surmises or anticipates that there will be an upcoming battle to rescue Chen’s sister.

The Pre-Scene

A pre-scene hints at something on the horizon.

An example of this might be a new student entering a classroom and another student eyes him up and down. Nothing else happens in that particular scene.

The reader automatically anticipates there will be trouble between the boys down the road.

In an article at Novel Writing Help, “a pre-scene is simply a smaller version of a larger scene to come. They are not significant by themselves, but they imply that there is something more spectacular waiting to happen right around the corner.” (2)

The Loaded Gun

This strategy is attributed to Russian author and playwright Anton Chekhov.

He said, “If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on a wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.” (3)

This type of foreshadowing doesn’t have to use a gun; it could be any object.

For example, suppose a boy is cleaning out the attic of a hundred-year-old home for a neighbor. He finds an old corroded coin. He absent-mindedly shoves it in his pocket.

The reader knows that coin is significant and expects something to happen pertaining to it in the story. If the writer is smart, she will fulfill the reader’s expectation.

The Prophecy

With this type of foreshadowing, a glimpse of misfortune to come from something that happens is given to the reader.

As an example, the albatross is a sign of good luck if seen by sailors. With the reader being privy to this knowledge, a sailor sees one fly over his ship at the midway point on every voyage he’s on. But, on this particular voyage, there is no albatross to be seen.

The implication to the reader is that there is going to be trouble for this sailor and this voyage.

Don’t Overdo It

While adding foreshadowing to your fiction story is an effective writing device, you don’t want to overdo it.

In an article at NY Book Editors, it explains that “to balance your story, there needs to be revelations and circumstances that catch the reader off-guard. If your reader is in a constant state of analysis [over foreshadowing], your pacing will suffer. To strike the perfect balance, introduce hints but then jolt your reader with something unexpected.” (4)

If you’d like to read more about foreshadowing and your fiction writing, check out the references below.

References:

(1) https://literarydevices.net/foreshadowing/
(2) https://www.novel-writing-help.com/examples-of-foreshadowing.html
(3) https://www.writingclasses.com/toolbox/ask-writer/whats-this-business-about-chekhovs-gun
(4) https://nybookeditors.com/2018/03/how-to-foreshadow-like-a-pro/

Children's ghostwriterWhether you need rewriting or ghostwriting, let me take a look at your 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 book in publishable shape today!

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Publishing Your Book the Hybrid Way

The Author Website – Do You Really Need One?

Jan 28

Fiction Writing – Do It Right

Writing TipsI’m reading a book on writing fiction. It’s “Writing Fiction – The Practical Guide From New York’s Acclaimed Creative Writing School.”

It’s written by the Gotham Writers’ Workshop faculty and Alexander Steele is the author of Chapter One, Fiction: The What, How and Why of It.

Steele explains, “Promising ideas + hard work = good fiction. Well, not quite. Something is still missing.”

So, what’s that something?

You need to invest time, effort, and yes possibly some money to learn at least the basics of the writing craft.

I’ve written about the importance of learning the craft of writing in number of articles. It’s so important to learn how to write if you want to be an author of fiction stories (and nonfiction stories).

There are things like:

– Knowing how to write dialogue
– Knowing how to use showing rather than telling
– Knowing the elements of fiction writing
– Knowing how to use quotes in nonfiction writing
– Knowing how properly format a manuscript

Learning all this and the many other rules of writing shows you took the time to do it right. It shows you care about your writing . . . and you care about your audience.

Think of it as playing an instrument, say the guitar. You figure out the very basic chords, but that’s it. You might be able to strum those chords, but would you call yourself a good guitar player. Do you think anyone would pay to hear you play? Would anyone want to listen to you for free?

Stelle equates it to building a chair. You might be able to put one together, but will it support the weight of a person? Will it look good? Will someone want to buy it?

I think you get the idea.

While anyone can type away and create a story or article, will it be professional. Will it be a quality story? Will it be marketable? Will you be proud to be the author of it?

Self-publishing has opened the door to fulfilling dreams of becoming an author. It’s true that anyone can now publish a book, but how much better will your book be if you learn at least the basic rules of fiction writing.

As Stelle puts it, “The ‘rules’ of fiction craft weren’t created by any one person in particular. They simply emerged over time as guiding principles that made fiction writing stronger, in much the same way the mortise-and-tenon joint emerged as a good way to join parts of a chair.”

The rules work and once you learn the craft, even if you’re just beginning, it can make your writing easier. The guess work is eliminated and you’ll have a better idea of when and where to break the rules to make your story unique.

So, how do you learn the craft of writing?

You learn to write fiction the same way you would learn anything – by studying it. Take writing courses and/or sign up for a writing program. There are plenty of online and offline places that offer writing.

You can even learn a lot by reading the blogs of ‘quality’ writing sites. And, be sure to join writing groups. Often there are discussions on the craft of writing.

In addition to this, READ!

Reading books from traditional publishers will help train your brain to know what ‘good’ writing is and what marketable writing is. And, unless you’re writing just for you and your family, you will want to create a marketable book.

You should also read books on the craft of writing.

Journalist and author Hunter S. Thompson said, “Anything worth doing, is worth doing right.”

Children's ghostwriterWhether you need rewriting, ghostwriting, or coaching let me take a look at your 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 book in publishable shape today!

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Jun 18

6 Tips to What Makes a Good Story

7 writing elements to writing a good storyContributed by Aaron Shepard

Good writers often break rules—but they know they’re doing it! Here are some good rules to know.

Theme

A theme is something important the story tries to tell us—something that might help us in our own lives. Not every story has a theme, but it’s best if it does.

Don’t get too preachy. Let the theme grow out of the story, so readers feel they’ve learned it for themselves. You shouldn’t have to say what the moral is.

Plot

Plot is most often about a conflict or struggle that the main character goes through. The conflict can be with another character, or with the way things are, or with something inside the character, like needs or feelings.

The main character should win or lose at least partly on their own, and not just be rescued by someone or something else. Most often, the character learns or grows as they try to solve their problem. What the character learns is the theme.

The conflict should get more and more tense or exciting. The tension should reach a high point or “climax” near the end of the story, then ease off.

The basic steps of a plot are: conflict begins, things go right, things go WRONG, final victory (or defeat), and wrap-up. The right-wrong steps can repeat.

A novel can have several conflicts, but a short story should have only one.

Story Structure

At the beginning, jump right into the action. At the end, wind up the story quickly.

Decide about writing the story either in “first person” or in “third person.” Third-person pronouns are “he,” “she,” and “it”—so writing in third person means telling a story as if it’s all about other people. The first-person pronoun is “I”—so writing in first person means telling a story as if it happened to you.

Even if you write in third person, try to tell the story through the eyes of just one character—most likely the main character. Don’t tell anything that the character wouldn’t know. This is called “point of view.” If you must tell something else, create a whole separate section with the point of view of another character.

Decide about writing either in “present tense” or in “past tense.” Writing in past tense means writing as if the story already happened. That is how most stories are written. Writing in present tense means writing as if the story is happening right now. Stick to one tense or the other!

Characters

Before you start writing, know your characters well.

Your main character should be someone readers can feel something in common with, or at least care about.

You don’t have to describe a character completely. It’s enough to say one or two things about how a character looks or moves or speaks.

A main character should have at least one flaw or weakness. Perfect characters are not very interesting. They’re also harder to feel something in common with or care about. And they don’t have anything to learn. In the same way, there should be at least one thing good about a “bad guy.”

Setting

Set your story in a place and time that will be interesting or familiar.

Style and Tone

Use language that feels right for your story.

Wherever you can, use actions and speech to let readers know what’s happening. Show, don’t tell.

Give speech in direct quotes like “Go away!” instead of indirect quotes like “She told him to go away.”

You don’t have to write fancy to write well. It almost never hurts to use simple words and simple sentences. That way, your writing is easy to read and understand.

Always use the best possible word—the one that is closest to your meaning, sounds best, and creates the clearest image. If you can’t think of the right one, use a thesaurus.

Carefully check each word, phrase, sentence, and paragraph. Is it the best you can write? Is it in the right place? Do you need it at all? If not, take it out!

The strongest children’s stories have well-developed themes, engaging plots, suitable structure, memorable characters, well-chosen settings, and attractive style. For best results, build strength in all areas.

Originally published at:
http://www.aaronshep.com/youngauthor/elements.html

Writing for children tipsWriting – 6 Essential Steps to Publication
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Let's talk about your children's writing projectLet me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn you story into a publishable and saleable book.

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

Apr 30

Children’s Writing and Information Dump

As a ghostwriter and editor, occasionally I get clients who give me a draft of a story that has information dump within the first few spreads of a picture book.

This is a no-no.

Information dump is when an author literally dumps a chunk of information for the reader to absorb.

Granted most new writers may not realize they’re hitting the reader with these big chunks of information. Or, the author may want to tell the reader what she thinks the reader should know, but doesn’t know how to weave the information into the story.

I think the problem is the ‘author’ wants to make sure the reader understands what’s going on. For example:

Billy and Joe had been best friends since Kindergarten. They played together every day and even had sleep overs. They were also on the same football team. Then Billy insulted Joe last year. After that, Joe didn’t want to be friends with Billy anymore. Now, it’s a new school year.

While this example isn’t too long, there are some info dumps that are paragraphs long, pages long, or in the case of picture books, spreads long.

Another possible reason for information dumping.

Another possibility is that the ‘author’ is writing the story for himself. He’s writing to see what he wants to see in the book. He’s not thinking about what a seven year old or a 10 year old will want . . . even expect in a book.

Whatever the reason, information dump at the beginning of a story leads to a very boring beginning. And, it delays the initial problem that the protagonist must overcome.

While this has touched on the beginning of a story so far, it’s not a good idea to dump clumps of information elsewhere within the story either.

Why information dumping isn’t a good idea.

Children, even adults, have short attention spans. Being told what went on is boring for the reader. She wants to see or hear what’s going on through action and dialogue. Information or backstory must be weaved into the story here and there.

For example, going back to Billy and Joe. Instead of telling the reader flat out in the beginning of the story why they’re not friends, bring it in through dialogue.

It was the first day of the new school year. Joe walked past Billy in the yard without looking at him or saying a word.

“Okay, enough already. I insulted you last year. Get over it already,” chided Billy.

This lets the reader know what’s happening without knocking him over the head or dumping clumps of information. It brings the reader into the action and conversation. It’s effective writing.

While you may not be able to get every bit of information into the story that you think should be there, it doesn’t matter. Your reader will read between the lines. .

So, think twice before dumping that information on your reader.

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

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

Apr 09

4 Writing Tips on Using Descriptions

Tips on writing descriptionsUsing descriptions can be a powerful writing tool. The most important thing to keep in mind is to use your imagination. Close your eyes and picture what your character is doing. Picture what the scene looks like then paint it with words.

Below are four tips to help you get a handle on writing descriptions.

1. You’ve got to engage your readers.

How do you do this? By showing them what’s going on.

Let the reader:

– Smell what the character is smelling.
– Hear what the character is hearing.
– See what the character sees.
– Feel what the character is touching.
– Taste what the character is tasting.

Let the reader feel like she’s there. Use your character’s senses to describe (show) what’s going on.

2. Use descriptions in action scenes.

Using an excerpt from my middle grade fantasy adventure Walking Through Walls, I could have said just said it was hot. But that wouldn’t show how hot it was for the protagonist, Wang.

The sun beat down on the field. Sweat poured from the back of his neck drenching the cotton shirt he wore. He hurled the bundles on a cart.

I used description to show the action scene. This helps engage the reader.

3. Use description to emphasis the scene.

While you should write tight, sometimes it’s powerful to use description to bring the reader into the scene. In the excerpt below, the protagonist of Walking Through Walls is on a path that could change his life forever:

Deep in thought Wang did not notice the black cat that crossed his path, or the black raven that swooped and almost landed on his head. He did not even notice the silver snake with the purple tail that slithered along beside him on the road. Wang only noticed that each step took him closer to the merchant’s home and the beginning of the road leading to his destiny.

I could have simply used a version of the last sentence to say he didn’t notice anything. But, this wouldn’t allow the reader to know what was going on around him – how absorbed he was in fulfilling his dream. It wouldn’t bring the reader into the scene.

In addition, the description used for that scene is brought up later in the story. So, it’s also helping move the story forward.

4. Don’t use description dumps.

While it’s essential to use descriptions in your writing, you don’t want to overdo it. And, you don’t want to give description dumps.

What this means is avoid going beyond what is needed to engage. Yes, authors did it years ago – they’d elaborate on descriptions for sometimes pages. And, I would think it gave the writer a sense of freedom to be able to describe in full what she was imagining – not having to worry about tight writing. But, it won’t fly today.

Today is about writing ‘lean and mean.’ It’s about thinking carefully about your word choices, your descriptions, and your character’s backstory. If you can say it effectively in two words rather than six, do it in two.

It’s about making sure everything thing in your story is moving the story forward. No sidetracking for a beautiful description. No sidetracking for over elaborating.

Weigh what will work and what is too much. Use balance in writing descriptions in your story.

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WANT TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S BOOK?

Being a writer, like being any kind of artist who creates something from nothing, is an amazing ability. It’s almost like magic. And, you are in control. You decide what to create. The only limit you have is the cap on your imagination.

Check out Fiction Writing for Children. This 180 page ebook  gives you all the basics of writing fiction for children, finding a publisher or agent, and marketing your books.

Writing Children's Fiction

Jan 22

Balance in Fiction Writing – The Major Elements

Writing elements needed for balanced writingThere are five major elements to a fiction story and it’s the combination of these elements that make the story complete, interesting, and considered good writing.  Too much of one or not enough of another can affect the readers ability to connect with the story. So, what are the major elements of a story?

The Major Elements of a Story

1.    Protagonist
2.    Setting
3.    Plot
4.    Point of view
5.    Theme

Let’s break them down:

The Protagonist: Introduce the main character. Using your imagination you can make him unique. He can have particular mannerisms or quirks, or even distinct physical attributes. You can also make him likeable or unsavory, but remember you will need the reader to be able to create a connection to him. It’s this connection that will prompt the reader to continue reading on. Your protagonist needs to be real…believable.

The Setting: This will establish the time and place the story takes place. The setting can create a feeling and mood – if you’re writing about swashbuckling pirates, your reader will be in a certain mind set. The same holds true for any other setting you choose. It will be intrinsic to the plot/conflict and will help establish vivid imagery for the reader.

The Plot: This is the meat of the story – the forward movement, the conflict or struggle that drives the protagonist toward his goal. This involves any danger, suspense, romance, or other reader grabbing occurrence. The conflict can be emotional (an internal struggle – a tormented soul) or physical (from an external/outside force – good against evil).

Point of View: This establishes whose point of view the story is being told. It’s important to make this clear. Even if you have two main characters, there needs to be one who is primary in order to keep clarity within the story.

The Theme: This establishes what is important to the story. It usually evolves along with the story and the protagonist’s progression. If Jesus is your protagonist, establishing and promoting Christianity might be the theme. It might be the story’s view on life and the people/characters the protagonist encounters. It is the idea the author wants the reader to take away with him/her.

Utilizing each of these elements can create a unique, fascinating, and memorable story.

Just like the ingredients in a cooking recipe, writing has its own set of ingredients that produce a wonderful end product. A pinch here, a dab there – you hold the unique recipe to your story.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

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Need Help With Your StoryLet me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn your story into a publishable and saleable book.

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

Nov 13

How to Write a Story

Writing tips

Today I have a guest post by a successful writer and writing coach, Suzanne Lieurance. She talks about what it takes to ‘write a story.’

Do you long to write stories but just can’t seem to get started?

That’s probably because you don’t understand the elements needed for any good story. Learn these elements and the writing process will be much easier.

EVERY GOOD STORY NEEDS:

1. An interesting main character with a problem to solve. Your main character needs to want something and want it so much he is willing to overcome all sorts of obstacles to get it. This character is your protagonist; the person readers will root for as he faces conflicts and complications.

2. An interesting setting. A good story needs to be set in a definite time and place and readers need to feel they are right there in this time and place with your characters. Use a variety of vivid sensory details to transport your readers to the time and place you’ve chosen as the setting for your story. But weave these details into the action as much as possible.

3. Conflict. Something or someone who gets in the way of the main character in his quest to get what he wants. The main character who creates this conflict is your antagonist. Keep in mind that this person shouldn’t be ALL bad. He should be flawed, of course, but if he’s all bad he won’t seem like a real person, he’ll be more like a caricature.

4. A series of complications. Things should keep getting worse and worse for the main character in his quest to get what he wants. These complications will create the dramatic tension and rising action for your story so readers will want to keep turning the pages to find out what happens next.

5. A culminating event that creates change. Something dramatic needs to occur that will change everything for your main chararacter. This event is the climax of your story or the solution. Your main character will either finally get what he is after or he will understand why it is not possible to get what he wants and he will have to make some sort of peace with that. Either way, your main character will no longer be the same person he was at the beginning of the story. He will have changed or grown somehow as a result of the conflicts and complications he faced. This change (or changes) will lead to a natural resolution as the ending for your tale.

Now, before you get started writing your own story, take some time to examine a few simple stories more closely for each of these elements. Fairy tales are good stories to use for this purpose.

For more writing tips and resources delivered to your e-mailbox every weekday morning, get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge from Suzanne Lieurance, the Working Writer’s Coach.

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Need Help With Your StoryLet me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn your story into a publishable and saleable book.

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

Oct 02

Fiction Writing – 5 Top No-Nos

Watch out for these fiction writing No-Nos

Fiction writers who are good at what they do, enjoy what they do. They like creating something from nothing . . . well from an idea. They enjoy the craft and the process.

But, with that said, there are 5 top mistakes these writers make.

1. You make the beginning of your story all roses.

While we’d all love to live in a peaceful, happy land, readers need something to sink their teeth into, especially at the beginning of the story.

The beginning of your story is the hook. It’s where you GRAB the reader and make her have to turn the page and want to know what’s going to happen to the protagonist.

Here are a couple of examples of ‘hooking’ beginnings:

“I have noticed that teachers get exciting confused with boring a lot. But when my teacher said, ‘Class, we have an exciting project to talk about,’ I listened away.”
“The Talented Clementine” by Sara Pennypacker.

“My name is India Opal Buloni, and last summer my daddy, the preacher, sent me to the store for a box of macaroni-and-cheese, some white rice, and two tomatoes and I came back with a dog.”
“Because of Winn-Dixie” by Kate DiCamillo

These two examples of children’s writing give you a good idea of what it takes to ‘hook’ the reader.

2. The dialog is weak, fluffy.

Having weak dialog can kill your story. You need your characters to have passion . . . to have life.

You want dialog that is strong and tight. You want the emotion (the conflict, the tension, the passion) to come through the words. And, you want to say it in as few words and as realistically as possible.

You want the reader to feel what the character is feeling at that moment.

If Bob is angry in the story, show it through his dialog:

“WHAT! Who said you could take that?!”
“Hey! What are you doing?!”
“No! You can’t. Now get lost.”
“Get your hands off of me!”

The tight, strong dialog goes for exchanges also:

“Hey! What are you doing?!” Bob yelled.

Gia spun around. “Oh, ugh, nothing.” Her eyes darted to the door then back to Bob.

3. The story is predictable.

You’ve got to have some surprises in the story. If you don’t, it will make for a rather dull, predictable story.

For this aspect of your story, think questions.

– Why is the character in that situation?
– How did he get there?
– What must she be feeling, seeing?
– How can see get out of it?
– What might happen next?

Try to come up with four or five options as to what might happen next.

In an article at Writer’s Digest, the author advises to “Close your eyes and watch your scene unfold. Let the characters improvise. What are some outlandish things that could result? If something looks interesting, find a way to justify it.” (1)

Let your imagination run wild.

4. Your characters are one-dimensional.

For readers to become engaged in a story, they have to develop a connection with the protagonist and other characters. In order for this to happen, the characters must be multi-dimensional.

Characters need to be believable and unique. You don’t want them to be predictable or a stereotype.

According to “Breathing Life into Your Characters” by Rachel Ballon, Ph.D., “The essential components for creating successful characters with emotional and psychological depth—feelings, passion, desires, psychology, and vision—reside within [the writer].”

So, think about it. What conditions or characteristics does your character have?

– Does he have a personality disorder?
– Does he have phobias?
– Is she dysfunctional?
– Is she a troublemaker or bully?
– Is he anxious?
– Does she have an eating disorder?
– Is she fearful?
– Is she a risk taker, fearless?

And, keep in mind that the more stressful an ‘inciting incident’ or event, the more reaction and/or adjustment there will be.

For example: If a child lost a pet, it wouldn’t be as severe as losing a parent.
If a woman became separated from her husband, it wouldn’t be as severe as having her husband suddenly die.

So, using your experiences and innate characteristics, along with research, you can create multi-faceted characters.

5. You dump information into the story.

This is more of a mistake that new writers may make. I had a client who created the entire first paragraph of her middle-grade story with ‘information dump.’

She had the protagonist talking to a stuffed animal, in a pretend interview. She gave backstory and other details she wanted to convey to the reader through the interview. She didn’t realize that this information needed to be layered or weaved into the story, not dumped in one big truck load.

You might also use a prologue to give backstory.

While there are other things to watch for in fiction writing, these are five of the top no-nos.

Reference:
(1) 5 Biggest Fiction Writing Mistakes and Fixes

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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