Jan 16

You Are Never Too Old to be a Writer

You can start your writing career today.
I jumped into a writing career in my mid-40s. I was an assistant controller for a manufacturing company before that.

With my accounting background, writing about business and marketing was a natural fit… or so it seemed at the time.
My first gig as a freelance writer was for a company that offered human resources solutions. They had two related (sister) sites and I wrote articles for one site and rewrote them for the other.

Rewriting can be fun, but is also challenging as it’s important to have the new content pass a duplicate content checker.  

The reason for this is Google doesn’t like duplicate content on your website or your related sites.
Heath writing was soon added to the mix and it was more lucrative than the business and marketing writing. 

I supplied an allergy site with about 100 articles per month. I had to hire subcontractors to help with this project.
I also did academic rewriting and editing for health professionals.
Then I decided to add on writing for children.

It seemed like a natural addition as I had written a bedtime lullaby when my first daughter was a baby – to help her fall asleep. I turned it into a children’s bedtime picture book in 2008. 

Soon though, I was stretching myself too thin as you can imagine. That’s never a good thing for a number of reasons.

-You can’t devote the time and focus needed to a particular genre.
-You don’t have a strong platform or brand.
-And, you know the saying: Jack of all trades, master of none. This is definitely not a good thing. It should always be quality over quantity.

I had to decide what genre I would focus on. 

Focus is essential to success.

As the children’s writing really took off and grew each year, and I love to bring children on journeys, that’s the genre I chose.

And that’s how my children’s writing career got started.
Another example of never being too old to follow your dreams is a 92 client I worked with about a year ago.

I got a query from a woman who had a children’s picture book published in by Houghton Mifflin in 1988.

She had a 25,000-word middle grade story she had been submitting to agents but wasn’t getting any interest. She asked if I’d review it. After a few emails, I learned she was 92 years old! 

Ninety-two! And she was following her dream!

She inspired me.

Working and raising seven children on her own during most of their growing-up years didn’t leave room for writing, especially as she had to work. Once she was able, she got back to it, though. She wanted to publish more stories. 

After consulting with this client, she turned her middle grade into a chapter book, and I edited for her. She then self-published. I went on to review and edit several shorter stories for her. 
And there are lots of other late bloomers. 
The very successful authors listed below also started their writing careers later in life:

Toni Morrison - Age 40
Mark Twain - Age 41
J.R.R. Tolkien - Age 45
Raymond Chandler - Age 51
Annie Proulx - Age 57
Laura Ingalls Wilder - Age 65
Frank McCourt - Age 66 (1)
So, if you’re wondering if it’s too late to start writing, IT’S NOT.

If you have the desire and haven’t gotten started writing for children yet, GET STARTED TODAY!
Reference:
(1) https://bookstr.com/article/10-hugely-successful-authors-who-got-their-start-later-in-life/
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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The Writing for Children Ropes - 8 Tips

Story, Plot, and Arcs
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Jan 09

The Domino Chain Reaction and Your Words

The Writing Chain Reaction
So many things inspire me; the most recent is a video I saw on LinkedIn.

It’s about chain reactions, and I immediately thought of writing.

I found the original video on YouTube and have it here. It’s only 2 ½ minutes and super-interesting.

As the demonstrator (Stephen Morris) mentioned, if he had 29 dominos, the last one would be as tall as the Empire State Building!

WOW!

It’s minding boggling thinking about the actual size of the initial domino that caused such a powerful chain reaction.

So how does this relate to writing?
As writers, what we write matters. 

Words matter.

You trigger the initial event by writing your story. Once it’s released into the world, it creates energy; and each time a reader reads it, more and more energy is released. The domino chain reaction is underway.

This is the superpower writers have.
As a children’s writer, you never know how your story will spark something in a child. 

It could be sparking an interest in the environment, maybe in history, or astronomy, or kindness, or even peace. 

It’s that initial event or trigger than can lead that reader on to greater things.

Or, it may be a nonfiction book on creating a better life, or a better world.

Again, your words can become the trigger that sparks better things.

That’s the power of a story. 

The possibilities are limitless, so use your superpower wisely!
Want to be that spark in a child’s imagination or life?
Become the author of your own children’s book.

Be the trigger in a writing-reading domino chain reaction.
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
3 Fiction Writing Mistakes to Avoid

The Writing for Children Ropes - 8 Tips

Are You Overthinking Your Story?

Please Share!
Jan 02

Amazon Book Categories for Greater Visibility

Book Marketing and Book Categories
As most authors are self-publishing today, it’s important for authors to know about Amazon’s book categories.

When you’re uploading your book to Amazon, you’re able to choose specific categories for your book to be list under. This is something you need to take advantage of.

Do your research and determine which categories best fit your book.

If you’re having a service upload your book, you should make sure you know what categories the service is using.

Do you know what categories your book is listed under with Amazon?

It’s a crucial element of your book marketing and book sales, and you should use as many categories as you’re allowed. With Amazon, it’s currently ten.

But, for reasons unknown, it seems a while back, Amazon made it more difficult to see the 10 categories you listed your book under – they only visibly list the first three. 

According to Dave Chesson of Kindlepreneur, you can now only see 3 of the categories you chose when you uploaded your book.

Categories matter.

According to Geoff Affleck, "selecting the best Amazon book categories is one of the most important and overlooked aspects of publishing and one of the easiest to do. Most self-published authors and professional publishers give little thought to the category placement."

So, what exactly do categories do for your book?

Think of them as a step above keywords. You might think of categories as the house that holds the keywords.

Suppose you’ve written a children’s fiction picture books that focuses on a child owing a pet – the responsibility and caring involved. 

The categories might be:
Books / Fiction / Children’s Book 

The keywords might be:
Picture books
Responsibility
Caring for a pet
Pet ownership

This example should help you get the idea.

While Amazon buyers don't usually browse books by categories, if you're book is selling well, Amazon takes note of the categories your book is in. Their algorithm will give you a higher ranking for that category which means your book will be suggested to more customers.

It's kind of a popularity contest.

This is why keeping track of your book's categories is important.

It shouldn’t be a create and leave situation.

Suppose a new category opens up that's more focused on your book's subject matter. You would not doubt want to swap it out for a category that's less connected.

Or, maybe you're keeping track of other books in your subject matter and they're doing very well; you might want to use their categories.

Knowing what categories are getting traction and visibility will give you the opportunity to use the categories to bring more attention / visibility to your books.  

So to address the problem of only seeing 3 of your listed categories, Chesson suggests a free service from Nerdy Book Girl that allows you to see them all. All you need is to input your ISBN or ASIN.

While this article focuses on Amazon, you should follow the same marketing strategy for any other aggregator or distributor you list your book with.

The Author-Writer Platform
Along with being a children's author and ghostwriter, I'm an author online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.

Build Your Author/Writer Platform is a 4-week e-class that's in-depth and interactive. It covers all the tools you’ll need to build visibility and traffic, and boost sales.

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

If you want to check out other classes I offer, check out:
https://thewritingworld.com/your-author-platform/

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Dec 26

3 Absolute Must-Nots in Writing for Children

It seems there are still new children’s authors or wannabe authors who don’t take the time to learn about how to write for children… at least to learn the basics.

The absolute must-nots when writing for children:

The Picture Book Cliffhanger

A recent client of mine was for a picture book rewrite project with the ending missing, so there was a bit of ghosting involved. The intended age group was four to eight.

I rewrote the story and added a ‘satisfying’ ending with a takeaway only to learn the client wanted it to be a cliffhanger and didn’t want a takeaway.

Well, kind of a cliffhanger. The client wanted the ending missing.

No loose ends tied up. No satisfying ending. No full character arc. No full story arc.

This was a first for me.

Not wanting a takeaway is one thing, but not wanting a satisfying ending for a young children’s book doesn’t make sense.

The story was to leave the reader to guess what the author had in mind for the ending or create their own. 

The author’s intent was to create a series of cliffhangers motivating the reader to purchase the next picture book.

I’m not sure if the author intended to abruptly end the next book in the series, but I think so.

I tried my best to help the client understand that a young children’s book needs all the elements of a ‘good’ story, especially when seeking a traditional publishing contract.

I get that in self-publishing a lot of new authors do whatever they want (even though they should produce a quality book), but it’s a different ball game when going the traditional route.

The Perfect Story World

I don’t get too many of this type of author, but it came up in another recent project.

This scenario is when the author doesn’t want any significant conflict in the story. No real stakes involved.

-No swarm of bees to block a path the protagonist must get through.
-No ferocious fire breathing dragon blocking the entrance to a cave the protagonist must get into.
-No dangling from a cliff before being rescued.

The author also doesn’t want the characters, even the villain, to have any bad traits.

-No evil Professor Moriarty (Sherlock Holmes nemesis).
-No evil Joker or the Penguin (Batman’s nemesis).
-No evil Lex Luthor (Superman’s nemesis).

This type of story is sugar-coated.

Instead of a roller coaster that goes up and down, where the rider has to hold on tight, this type of story is the stationary horse on the carousel, no holding on needed, no real movement involved.

You always want your story to be the one that the reader is motivated to hold onto, motivated to turn the pages. You want your story to go up and down.

Hitting the Reader Over the Head

Most of my clients have a specific goal for their story. They want to send a message to a child. They know exactly what they want the takeaway to be. 

A number of stories have the bullying theme, but interestingly that’s eased off. Now I get more requests for the inclusion theme, the standing up for yourself theme, and the being kind theme.

Some new authors think they have to hit the reader over the head with their message. They blatantly want to tell the reader how the main character grew because he was kind, or stood up for himself, or included someone different into her group.

Hitting the reader over the head with the story’s message is frowned upon. The story should convey the message subtly. The reader will pick up on it.

I hope these three absolute must-nots in kid’s writing help you on your children’s writing journey.
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.

Please Share
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.
  
Please Share!
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.

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Nov 14

Self-Publishing: Scams, Scams, and More Scams

Writing and Scams

Scams are all over the place and touch on almost every facet of life.

From paying off you student loans, to your car maintenance insurance is about to lapse, to calls that your Amazon account has been hacked.

Well, authors aren’t exempt.

There are a number of scams going around for self-publishing authors.

These scams range from online services that will publish your book, edit and proof your manuscript, create your illustrations (if you’re a children’s author), market your book, and even create a website for you.

Dealing with so many ghostwriting clients (around 350), I’ve heard and even seen some of the horror stories.

One client hired a self-publishing company, a subsidiary of a major publishing company, to do the illustrations for a book I wrote for him.

The client thought that because there was a major publisher somewhere in the background would ensure quality work, so he went with them.

The illustrations were poorly done and it cost him upwards of $10,000.

Another client decided to use one of these self-publishing services to market his book and create an author website.

He gave me the link to the website and again, another unprofessional job. The web copy was weak and full of errors.

Yet another client hired a marketing firm to handle her children’s book marketing. They subbed the work to ‘who knows who’ to create the website.

The subbed service had no idea how to write copy for a children’s site. They didn’t even know what webpages to create. The client hired me to oversee the website project.

Most of these services use ineffective marketing strategies. So basically, the author is paying for nothing. Probably eight out of ten of the services don’t’ know what they’re doing. And, they don’t care.

The scam stories go on and on and on. It’s horrible. Authors spend thousands and thousands for noticeably unprofessional work.

In regard to editing, proofing, and even ghostwriting, these services hire non-English speaking writers and most often they’re not professional writers. And, they charge top dollar for the work. I’ve even seen manuscripts where it’s evident that the writers didn’t know how to write for children.

I’ve had a couple of clients who decided to allow the self-publishing service they hired to publish the book edit the manuscript also.

AAGGGGHHHHH.

The reason I know this happened is because they came back to me to revise what the service had done.

This is a main reason I’d never allow a client to use my name in their book. I have no idea what they do with the story once I hand it over.

A New Scam

Now, there’s a new scam in town. At least it’s one I haven’t heard of before.

This one aims at a book that’s already self-published.

According to Writer Beware, “scores of publishing/marketing/fake literary agency scams that are super-aggressively soliciting self-published and small press writers these days with an offer to re-publish or “re-brand” your book.” (1)

You should read this article as these services are worse than the self-publishing companies.

You can read it here:
(1) Say NO to That Offer to Re-Publish Your Self-Pubbed Book 

Another article to check out is:
3 Ways to Identify a Publishing Scam

If these articles can stop one author from jumping in blindly, they’re worth their weight in gold.

As someone who has been in this business for a while, it’s so sad to see authors taken advantage of by unscrupulous scammers… thieves.

So, please beware, and remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

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

Children’s Books and Back Matter

The Secret of Getting Ahead

Creating Story Characters – Avoid These Common Mistakes

Please Share

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.

Articles on writing for children

Children’s Books and Back Matter

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Creating Story Characters – Avoid These Common Mistakes

LIKE THIS POST? PLEASE SHARE!

Oct 03

Scenes and How to Make Them Work

Writing powerful scenes

One of the best descriptions I’ve read on what a scene is, comes from James Scott Bell’s blog, Kill Zone. In an article on strengthening scenes, Bell explains that “scenes are the bricks that build the fiction house. The better the bricks, the better the house.” (1)

This gives a visual of how scenes work. Building one on top of the other to create a strong story.

Masterclass describes a scene as, “a section of a story that has its own unique combination of setting, character, dialogue, and sphere of activity.” (2)

This description gives more details, but I like Bell’s visual better.

The Masterclass article also explains that scenes are one of the “most valuable writing skills an author can possess.”

This makes scenes even clearer. They’re essential to a ‘good’ book. Going back to the brick house, the better (stronger) the brick, the stronger the house.

A scene has a beginning, middle, and end, just like the story.

When the location changes, or another character enters the scene, or something else significant changes within the scene, that’s usually an indication that it’s the end of that scene and the beginning of the next.

An example of this is from my middle grade book, Walking Through Walls.

The protagonist Wang, is trying to walk through a wall, but just can’t do it. He’s fearful of getting hurt. It takes him ten tries.

Finally, he passes through it. That’s the end of that scene.

The next scene has Wang ecstatic. He’s thrilled. He can’t contain himself.

So, how do you make scenes work?

  1. The first thing a scene needs to do is achieve something.

Think of the brick. It’s solid. It’s its own entity.

Each scene has a story to tell.

The scene may be a chase scene, a fight scene, the inciting incident, a romantic scene, or a scene establishing the setting.

Using Walking Through Walls again, in the beginning of the story, Wang is seen sweating and complaining while working in the wheat fields. This scene establishes the type of work Wang is doing and also establishes his attitude toward it.

  1. A scene should be the foundation for the next scene.

Scenes are like building blocks. They provide information the reader should know to move forward in the story.

Going back to Wang and his attitude toward hard work, it allows the reader to understand why he desperately wants a way out of his life.

The scene can also provide more information, such as backstory, or a look into the character’s family life, friendships, strengths, weaknesses, and so on.

It can be anything of value that helps move the story and characters forward.

  1. Every scene should have a point of view.

As a children’s ghostwriter, the majority of the stories I write have one point of view.

But also work on upper middle-grade where there can be two points of view and young adult where there can be multiple points of view.

When working with more than one point of view, each scene should be specific to only one, otherwise it can get confusing and weaken the strength of that brick.

  1. Each scene should contribute to the world you’re creating.

In Walking Through Walls, the time period is 16th century China. This meant a lot of research.

I incorporated tools of the time period, clothing, and even food within in the scenes to build the world the characters lived in.

I also used dialogue to build the world. I eliminated contractions and flavored the dialogue and actions with respect, especially toward elders.

  1. As your story should be shown and not told, so should your scenes.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a new writer of an experienced writer, it’s easy to fall into the ‘telling’ mode when writing.

Showing a scene means to use dialogue and action, along with sensory details, and internal thoughts.

Using showing allows the reader to be absorbed in the story. It allows the reader to connect to the character, and brings the reader into the story.

Telling keeps the reader at arms-length. The reader won’t be able to make as strong a connection to the character or the story.

Hope these five tips to writing a good scene help you strengthen your own story’s scenes.

References

(1) https://killzoneblog.com/2021/08/three-easy-ways-to-strengthen-a-scene.html

(2) https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-write-the-perfect-scene#quiz-0

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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Aug 22

Even Tiny Action Steps Can Produce Huge Results

“Someone is sitting in the shade today because
someone planted a tree a long time ago.”

This Warren Buffet quote inspires me. It’s simple, yet so amazingly powerful.

  1. A tiny seed can create something as massive as a tree, even a sequoia tree.

Think of the giant sequoia tree in California, USA. It averages around 26 feet in diameter, weighs around 4,189,000 lbs. and reaches heights of 275 feet. According to Wikipedia, “Record trees have been measured to be 311 feet in height and over 56 feet in diameter. The oldest known giant sequoia based on ring count is 3,500 years old.”

The seed of the sequoia tree is 0.16–0.20 inches long, 0.039 inches broad, and 0.039 inches wide.

Hard to imagine, isn’t it.

Something that tiny can produce something that enormous.

Well, this can easily relate to writing, to book marketing, to business . . . to just about everything in your work and life.

Small positive actionable steps, no matter how tiny, can create massive results.

You may think your writing and marketing efforts aren’t moving you forward, but think of how long it takes that tiny seed to grow into a tree that gives shade.

  1. What you sow today can have benefits for many tomorrows.

Time will pass whether you take action or not.

If you have an idea, take action now. Don’t wait for tomorrow or until you have more time or until you have more money. Take action now. The benefits may turn out to be bigger than you could possibly imagine.

You may reap the benefits of your writing or book marketing or business efforts far into your future, so take that initial step.

Or, maybe it’s expansion that you’re thinking about, or a new strategy.

Keep in mind, though, that every living thing needs sun, water, and food to grow. So, when you take that step (plant that seed), be sure to give it the nurturing it needs to become what you believe it can be.

Plant that seed today!

This post was originally published at:
http://www.writersonthemove.com/2015/02/even-tiny-action-steps-can-produce-huge.html

Children's ghostwriter

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

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

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

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