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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Aug 08

Giving Basic Writing Advice

A while ago, I was asked to look over a children’s fiction picture book manuscript. This was not a paying job, just a favor.

The ‘new to writing’ authors, who are both health care professionals, had already been calling major publishers to find out submission requirements. They were told their manuscript would not be looked at without an agent.

So, they went to the library to find a book on top agents.

While this is a worthy endeavor, there are some basic first steps to take before shooting for the stars.

Just glancing at the manuscript, I knew it needed a lot of work. And, interestingly, I was surprised to see so many errors in a simple 600-word story. It seems as we progress in learning the craft of writing, we forget that we didn’t know the very basics at one time either.

So then, I had to figure out what to say to the authors without alienating them or totally discouraging them.

When critiquing or giving writing advice, it’s important to begin with the positive aspects of the manuscript. If the errors are basic and there are a lot of them, you may also want to state them in generic terms, not to offend the author/s.

What does this mean?

Well, it’s not a good idea to say, “You shouldn’t have the children’s picture book manuscript formatted in lists, numbered, or in Australian Sunrise 10pt font.”

Instead, you might say, “Manuscripts are usually preferred typed in New Times Roman 12pt font, and are double spaced using a free form flow with the first sentence of each paragraph indented.

See the difference?

To help with clarity, you could include a first page example of a manuscript you have, or rewrite the 1st paragraph or two of the authors’ manuscript.

If there are just too many errors, for time’s sake you can make a list of proper manuscript formatting tips. This is the approach I took.

I started out with the ‘positive:’

This is a wonderful idea for a children’s book and has great potential, especially that both of you are professionals in the health field. Children will certainly benefit from the story’s information. It could use some tweaking, though.

Then I added the following:

Here are a few tips for writing and formatting a manuscript to help get it submission ready:

• Manuscripts should be formatted in 12 pt Times New Roman Font
• They should be double spaced
• They should be in free form without numbering for pages or in list form
• The first sentence of each paragraph should be indented
• Children love action – actions are better shown through ‘showing’ rather than ‘telling’
• Notes for illustrations after each of your intended pages are usually frowned upon by publishers
• Most publishers, especially the major ones use their own illustrators
• Manuscripts are more likely to make it past the slush pile if they are polished
• Usually writers go through a process of one or two critique groups and writing groups. After rewrites and editing it gets to a point where it looks perfect. That’s when it needs to be professionally edited.

These tips are part of the advice I offered the authors and I kept it as generic as possible.

After you note the manuscript errors, you should end your advice on another positive note. You might say, “With rewriting and editing, you will have an engaging story that children will be sure to love, and it’ll be submission ready.”

I then provided several writing links about writing for children and editing.

Since every author’s personality is different it’s usually best to use the gentle approach when offering writing advice.

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Writing Help

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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Jul 25

How to Make Your Story’s Setting Come Alive

Setting informs the reader of the time and place of your story.

It can include the time period, the physical location, the climate, and the social surroundings.

But it can do a lot more.

An example of this is the middle grade book, Walking Through Walls. It’s set in 16th century China, and the speech, the descriptions of the behaviors, the clothes, the trades, the food, and more all add to the authenticity of the time period.

This allows the reader to get a feel for the environment the protagonist is in. It helps bring the reader into the time period.

You setting descriptions can be powerful.

  1. It takes a village to raise a child.

Okay, that’s kind of a stretch for Tip #1 on how to make your setting come alive.

I was going for: it takes all the senses when describing setting. Don’t limit it to just one.

It seems the majority of authors stick to the scenery – what can be seen. While this is an important sense, the reader will become more involved if there’s more to ‘feel’.

To make your setting come alive, your fictional landscape, use as many senses as you can. You should include smell, touch, sound, and if the story allows, even taste.

In Walking Through Walls, the protagonist Wang is walking home:

Wang ambled back to the cottage. He noticed his favorite flower, the lemon lilies, in full bloom. They draped the landscape. Hmm, they smell so good.

While that passage doesn’t go into detail, it brings the smell of the lemon lilies into the reader’s mind, bringing another sense into the picture.

Here’s another scene from Walking Through Walls:

Tired and hungry, Wang trudged through fog thick as porridge.

This gives the reader a bit more insight into Wang’s journey. Again, while it’s not explained in detail, the fog might have fell damp on his skin. Maybe it left beads of water on him. The reader has something more to picture and imagine than just a fog.

The senses can also help to bring backstory into the story. Through taste, smell, and even texture, the character can remember people or times from their past, enlightening the reader to important elements of the character’s history.

  1. Use your character’s emotions to describe settings.

If your character is in a good mood or reflective, he will sense the world around him much different than if he’s in a bad mood or angry.

Going back to Wang and the lemon lilies, if he’s happy, he might bend down and pick up one of the flowers, bring it up to his face and take in the sweet odor.

If Wang is angry, he might trample over the lemon lilies, grumbling under his breath.

How the character reacts to or describes his surroundings will add an element of emotion.

  1. Treat your setting like part of your story.

Your setting can create a deeper experience for the reader. Using rich details will help the reader dive further into the story. She’ll feel like she’s there.

It helps the reader understand what the character is feeling, what he’s facing.

Here’s another passage from Walking Through Walls:

Slowly his gaze traveled up and up and up until he could see no further. The mountain loomed above him like a never-ending wall. Its thick giant trees left little space between them for a trail.

This gives the reader a pretty good picture of what Wang was facing, bringing the reader into the story.

  1. Add just enough setting description.

Okay, you’re a writer and it may come easy to write every little detail about a setting. You might want to capture it from multiple views or describe every color.

Well, if you add too many details that aren’t important to the story, the reader may get bored and skim over that section.

This may lead the reader to wonder what other sections she’ll have to skim over.

While you want to keep the setting descriptions within limits, the description or detail you include should do more than just show where the characters are, if at all possible. Think emotional state, symbolizing, evoking a memory, etc.

Going back to Wang looking up at the formidable mountain, it foreshadowed the difficult journey he had begun.

Just like the rest of the story, the setting description should move the story forward.

The setting and its descriptions help create a connection between the reader, the character, and the story.

But…

If you’re writing a children’s picture book, you can ignore the above.

The illustrations in a picture book fill in all the setting descriptions.

They show the emotions, the surroundings, the characters… they show what the story text doesn’t say.

It’s a whole different writing experience.

This article was inspired by:
5 Mistakes Writers Make When It Comes to the Setting

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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Jul 18

Hitch Your Wagon to a Star

Shoot for the Stars

“Hitch your wagon to a star!”
~ Ralph Wald Emerson

When I looked this quote up, I was surprised to find that there are two different attitudes toward it or meanings for it.

The first reference is to set your goals high. Another adage for it is “shoot for the stars.”

With this meaning, it’s referring to setting high goals and strive toward them. Or, you might already have high goals, but the likelihood of reaching them are slim. Don’t let that stop you. Go for it. Even if you’re told it’s not probable. Do your very best to become whatever it is you want to become.

This is the meaning I always thought of for this quote. And according to my research, this is what Ralph Waldo Emerson had in mind.

The second meaning is more modern and more cynical. It refers to attaching yourself to successful people, even famous people in order to reach your goals through them, through your association with them.

It figures the more modern meaning is cynical. Instead of being inspirational, it’s negative: use others to your own advantage.

Which do you think it refers to?

Source:
https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/Hitch+your+wagon+to+a+star

NEED HELP WITH YOUR STORY?

Whether you need help with children’s 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, HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S FICTION BOOK.

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Jul 11

Writing and Point of View: 2 Must-Know Elements

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

The first element is who’s telling the story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An example:

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

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

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

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

To eliminate it:

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

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

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

Another example.

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

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

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

An simple fix:

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

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

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

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

This is a powerful element of storytelling

A quick overview:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Examples of this POV:

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

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

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

NEED HELP WITH YOUR STORY?

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

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

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

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

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Jul 04

Writing the World Around You by Paying Attention

Contributed by writer-author D. Jean Quarles

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

Here are some points to ponder:

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Author

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

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

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

Children's ghostwriter

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

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

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

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Jun 27

Write for the Reader, Not for Yourself

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

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

This is how every author should write.

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

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

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

And I’m most likely underestimating this.

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

So, what exactly does this mean?

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

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

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

He knows the story’s backstory.

He knows the history of the story topic intimately.

He knows why Character Z is evil.

He knows how the enemy is getting their information.

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

The problem…

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

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

It’s easy to fall into this hole.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Children's ghostwriter

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

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

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

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Jun 13

3 Ways Writing Builds Strength

Contributed by Linda Wilson

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

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

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

Subtle Strengths Reaped from Being a Writer

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

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

STOP!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Children's author

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

Children's ghostwriter

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

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

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

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Writing Elements – Is One More Important Than Another?

Submitting Your Ghostwritten Book to a Children’s Publisher

Writing Tips from the Book, Story Genius

Writing and the Winds of Change

 

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May 30

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

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

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

It’s the same with submitting your manuscript.

So, how do you plan and prepare to submit?

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

There is no way around doing your research.

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

  1. Know who you’re submitting to.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Make your hook compelling and unique.

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

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

  1. Present your best writing.

Do your best to submit writing that’s irresistible.

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

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

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

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

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

  1. The comparison section is important.

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

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

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

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

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

Make everything about you and your platform professional.

This includes your author website.

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

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

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

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

  1. Be professional in your presentation.

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

Resources:

A Literary Agent’s Wish List

8 Tips for Writing a Powerful Hook for Your Book Proposal

Children's ghostwriter

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

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

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

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