Aug 01

A Story Revision Checklist

Contributed by Children’s Writer Linda Wilson

Once your first draft is written, you can begin revising. Looking at one piece of revision at a time can be helpful. After I finished the first draft of Book 2 in the Abi Wunder series, Secret in the Mist, I let the manuscript rest while working on other projects. About three weeks later, I was amazed at how much revision was needed. Every single page of my 30,000-word manuscript has #2 pencil cross-outs, squiggly lines, and deletions—every one!

To be effective, it’s good to have a revision plan.

I stuck with a general revision the first time. That included condensing long-winded paragraphs, finding better word choices, making dialogue sound kid-friendly, and replacing “telling” with “showing” passages.

Again, I put the manuscript down. I wanted to begin again with fresh eyes. While the story rested, I shared my story outline and a few chapters with my critique group. They helped me think through flaws in the manuscript that I couldn’t see. Also, I lined up my beta readers, fellow authors and friends who love to read and have offered to give me their opinions. But before I showed it to them, it was time to move on to complete the revision process.

The next revision began a thorough analysis and can be accomplished in parts.

-My first question: What do I need to re-think? Does the title work? Are the plot points in place? Does the story have an arc? Does each character have an arc?

-Is the story structure solid?

-The first sentence, first paragraph, and first chapter are critical. For more tips, please refer to my article “Writers: First Paragraph Essentials”: https://www.writersonthemove.com/2017/10/writers-first-paragraph-essentials.html

-Does the story have enough conflict? Stakes?

-Are there any characters who don’t have an active role in the story? If so, they either need to be taken out or given an active role in the plot.

-Are there any scenes that don’t move the story forward? Any scenes that drag? You need to find ways to change the scenes that aren’t working.

-Is the story told mainly through dialogue and action? Description can be added, but sparingly. Condense to a minimum and spread out any description “dumps.”

-Is the main character’s flaw/need evident in the beginning, and satisfied/solved from what she’s learned by the end? Does she grow and change by the end?

-Are the facts accurate?

-Are the details specific? Check for anything vague or general.

-Do a drama check. Heighten the drama wherever you can.

-Is the story told from the main character’s viewpoint? For example, any description you introduce needs to be seen through her eyes.

-Make sure the main theme shines through throughout your story. Do the minor themes bolster the main theme?

Books that have helped me the most: Elaine Marie Alphin’s boom, Creating Characters Kids Will Love. Her example on page nine is especially helpful:

His sneakers were braced against the roof’s shingles. Slowly, Benjy took one hand off the sill and gripped a lower shingle instead. Then he took a deep breath, told himself very firmly not to be afraid, and let go of the sill with his other hand . . . Why couldn’t he have been a few inches taller? Benji cursed his height silently. Even just a couple of inches would have meant his toes might have been able to feel the bench beneath him. But wishing wouldn’t make him grow.

Also helpful are books by Chris Eboch: You Can Write for Children and Advanced Plotting.

Recently, I’ve been reading and enjoying the graphic novels by Raina Telgemeier. I bought Guts, and even though my book is a chapter book and not a graphic novel, it helps to read passages now and then to remind myself to “talk” like a kid.

While writing my first book, Secret in the Stars, I had to disengage from disappointment after finding many glaring errors, when I thought the book was done. This must be the armor people talk about that writers must grow and wear, and perhaps why people admire authors so much. For the fortitude and single-mindedness it takes to do the seat-time, on and on, until we are finally satisfied with the finished product. Whatever it takes.

While writing Secret, I thought the amount of revision it took was excessive. Now that I’ve written multiple books, I understand how much revision is required. Lots. A good way to look at it is: the hard work of getting the words on paper is done. It’s time to play! Revising allows you to play with what you’ve written, rethink better ways of showing what the characters are going through, and re-do anything that isn’t working. When you’re finished, after careful attention to every detail, you can take the guesswork out of the many aspects of your story, and feel sure of your work. You’ve earned the title of a professional author.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Children's author

Linda Wilson is a children’s author, and her first book, Secret in the Stars: An Abi Wunder Mystery, is available at https://www.amazon.com/author/lindawilsonchildrensauthor. The next book in the Abi Wunder series, Secret in the Mist, will be available soon. Follow Linda on https://www.lindawilsonauthor.com

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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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 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 20

The Author and Copywriting

Whether you like it or not, as authors and writers, you need to write compelling, even persuasive content.

You might ask why.

Well, if you’re spending your time creating a book, magazine article, essay, blog post, or content for your website, you have a purpose in mind.

That purpose is to create and build visibility and sell what you’re offering.

This is where copywriting comes in.

So, what exactly is copywriting?

According to American Writers and Artists Institute (AWAI), “Copywriting is the process of writing persuasive marketing and promotional materials that motivate people to take some form of action, such as make a purchase, click on a link, donate to a cause, or schedule a consultation.”

Writing persuasive content helps you create and build visibility, and it helps you sell your books, your services, or your products.

An article at AWAI, “5 Sales Copy Editing Tips to Double Conversions,” gives five tips on how to get visitors to your website and potential clients to say YES to your offer.

Five tips to make your article or blog post more persuasive.

Here are three:

  1. It’s always about the reader.

With all the content online, you need to grab the reader quickly.

Let the reader know what’s in it for her in the beginning paragraph.

Let her know how your article can help her.

An example: Last month, my article, The One Sentence Pitch for Your Manuscript, had the most pageveiws of all my articles. It was posted over five years ago.

Based on this information, I went back to the post to make sure it followed this advice. It did.

Within the first paragraph, I explain what a one-sentence pitch is. And in the next, I explain why it needs to be only one sentence.

So, my beginning content gives the reader what he’s looking for.

I did have to add an updated call-to-action which is why you should check on your older posts.

  1. The So Whater.

This is a great tip and one that I learned years ago from children’s writer Margot Finke.

In children’s writing, the So Whater is about moving the character and story forward by continually asking yourself, so what.

Suppose Amanda gets a virtual reality headset. “So what,” says the So Whater.

Suppose the game she gets with the set is about scuba diving with sharks.

Again, the So Whater says, “So What?” And, she goes on to say, “So what,” every time you add something to the story.

Having to come up with answers for the So Whater motivates you to come up with what happens next that will make a page-turning story.

It’s the same with copywriting.

You have to think of where and when the reader may say, “So What?” “What’s in it for Me?”

Keeping this in mind helps you have the answer already in place to stop the So Whater before he gets started.

  1. Make your call-to-action (CTA) work for you.

Your CTA needs to motivate the reader to click on what you’re offering.

  • It may be to buy your book.
  • It may be to attend a podcast, webinar, or other format.
  • It may be to sign up for your mailing list.
  • It may be to take a survey.

Whatever you want the reader or visitor to do, make it clear and enticing.

  • You might add a guarantee: You’re going to love this or ask for a full refund – no questions asked.
  • You might offer an additional helpful tool or PDF or other if the reader takes the action you want.

In my copy for Become a Power-Blogger in Just 4-Weeks, I include helpful bonus information.

  • Compare the price to something else, making it sound cheap compared to the other product or service.

The article at AWAI gave this example: For the cost of a Starbucks latte each day, you can be enjoying …

  • Offer a how-to PDF that will simplify the reader’s life.

I recently created a DIY Self-Publishing PDF as an offer to join my mailing list.

It takes the author from an edited manuscript to publishing an ebook or paperback. I know this is a valuable offer because I tried to find the information when I was self-publishing How to Write a Children’s Fiction Book.

  • Add testimonials or other social proof.

Suppose you have 100,000 subscribers to your email list. You could use that as social proof: Join 100,000 other subscribers. Or, something like, A 100,000 subscribers can’t be wrong – jump on board.

I have testimonials on my Home page of my website. Testimonials work. I’ve had clients tell me they hired me because of my testimonials.

  1. Would you click on your CTA?

Once you have your article or content written and edited, read it as a visitor to your site or a reader. Then read the CTA.

Would the content motivate you to take action?

You might be thinking that all this takes time, and you’d be right.

But once you get into the routine of doing it, it will come easier and quicker. And more than that, it will work for you.

On top of all this, what you write online is there forever and reaches far. The internet is a crazy place; you just don’t know who will see that article, CTA, or other content you write.

It’s important to make your content effective. Make it do what you want it to, what you need it to do, to get the reader to click on your CTA.

NEED HELP WITH YOUR AUTHOR PLATFORM:

Build Your Author/Writer Platform is a 4-week in-depth and interactive e-class I instruct through WOW! Women on Writing. 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

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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

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Jun 06

What’s Stopping You From Becoming a Children’s Author?

Writing for children

There are many people, men, woman, professionals, and those in business who actually dream of being the author of a children’s book.

Usually, it’s to inspire a child or to bring memories or stories they told their children to life. Or, it can be a business person who wants a children’s book as part of their product line.

From my experience, the majority of these people want to be author of a picture book.

I’ve had hundreds and hundreds of queries about starting a project that fell through.

Why does this happen?

Why do the majority of people who want to be children’s author drop their dream?

While I don’t know for sure, I do think there are a few basic reasons.

  1. The cost.

Yep. If you are hiring a children’s ghostwriter, it will cost money.

This is a huge concern for most, and understandably.

What really surprised me during 2020 was the number of people who did use my services. It was my busiest year ever. It had to be that people had time on their hands and wanted to be kept busy.

Then there are the writing services on sites like Fiverr. These sites and many others use non-speaking people to write the stories for clients.

Yes, it will be cheaper than a professional writer, but keep in mind that you get what you pay for.

Below is an example from a Fiverr project a client came to me to fix. This was for a picture book:

“His feet were heavy with reluctance as he dragged them unwillingly one in front of the other. He looked at his reflection in the bathroom mirror and couldn’t help but notice his sad expression. His piercing dark blue eyes, once full of joy and excitement, now looked weary and defeated.”

In another section there were three “really” within four sentences.

The entire story’s formatting was horrible, such as the lack of new paragraphs for new speakers. There were grammatical errors and multiple points of view.

So, again, you get what you pay for.

I can’t imagine someone wanting to have their name as author of a story like that.

Another cost factor with children’s books is illustrations.

If you’re self-publishing, you’ll need to hire an illustrator for a picture book.

You’ll also need illustrations for chapter books and middle grade books.

I listened to a YouTube video with editor and former literary agent Mary Kole. (Check out her YouTube channel, Good Story Company.) She said if you want a high-quality professional illustrator for a picture book, you’re looking at $10,000 to $20,000. And, if you want an acclaimed illustrator, it’s much more. (1)

Obviously, most people can’t afford that. So, it’s understandable why some people drop the idea.

But there are good illustrators who charge far, far less.

  1. Motivation wanes due to life.

One perfect example is a client from 2019.

I wrote a young adult (YA) story for an attorney. It was almost done and he was gun-ho. He even wanted seven picture books written after the YA was finished.

He paid in full and we were working to finish it.

Then he slowed down. Family. Vacation. Work.

Then COVID-19 hit.

I contacted him and he said he’d get back into it, but he didn’t.

I’ll contact him again as he paid for a completed manuscript and there are still about five or so chapters to go.

So, as we all know, life happens. This can put a monkey wrench in any project.

  1. It seems too complicated.

There is a lot involved in having a book ghostwritten and illustrated.

And, it’s a lot of work if you’re writing the story yourself.

After that, it’s the business of getting the book formatted, the interior design, and uploading for publication and distribution.

It can seem daunting.

But it doesn’t have to be.

There are a number of services that will help you put your book together and get it published. I’ve even added this service to my site to make it easier for clients.

There is plenty of help out there.

So, what to do?

If your dream is to have your name as author of a children’s book, take the first step.

Find out what’s involved and what the cost will be. This will give you a solid foundation on what you need to do and what you’ll need for a budget.

It may be that your imagination is getting carried away.

Shoot me an email to discuss your project.

If you prefer writing the story yourself, I offer coaching services that includes guidance on how to self-published.

Don’t let your dream go unfulfilled.

Get started today!

References:

(1) Picture Book Author-Illustrator

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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.

Email me 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

Storytelling vs. Writing a Story

6 Tips to What Makes a Good Story?

Writing Procrastination: IF and WHEN Were Planted and Nothing Grew

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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May 23

Your Story Beginning

With all the information online about writing, I still get clients who start their stories with backstory, boring introductions, or with a number of characters leaving the reader in the dark as to who the protagonist is.

The beginning of your story, whether a picture book, chapter book, or middle-grade, is to provide the reader with some key information.

  1. The story should start with the protagonist.

You need to quickly establish a connection between the reader and the protagonist.

The reader needs to know at the beginning who’s taking them on the journey, who’s point-of-view they’re being privy to.

  1. Keep the beginning in the present.

Starting the story with something like:

Alicia looked at herself in the mirror as she thought about her life before. She was a hair stylist in a high-end establishment and loved her job. That is until her boss took on a partner. Things went downhill from there. Having to quit, it took her six-months to find another job. And that job was in a low-end place she swore she’d never work at.

The opening paragraph above is considered information dump. It’s there solely to let the reader know the protagonist’s past.

While some of the information may be important to the story, it shouldn’t be dumped in the beginning.

Instead, you might start it like:

“Hey, Alicia,” called Juan. “Your 3 o’clock is here. I’m sending her back.”

Alicia looked at herself in the mirror. How did this happen? What am I doing in this dead-end job?

This brings us to number three.

  1. Start your story with action.

The latter scene in number two is action related, but it doesn’t have to start with dialogue.

You might have the protagonist angry with his best friend.

Josh stood with his arms folded and his eyes narrowed as he watched Branden talking to Mia. What’s he doing talking to her? He knows I like her.

OR …

Josh stood with his arms folded and his eyes narrowed. “I saw you talking to Mia. You know I like her.”

Branden shrugged. “It’s no big deal.”

Josh got even more angry.

OR …

Max looked at the rock-climbing wall. Man, it’s high. His body tensed as he put his foot on the first rock that jutted out. He looked at the crowd that gathered in the gym to watch him. Why’d I accept this stupid challenge?

OR …

Wang tied the last bundle of wheat and hurled it into the cart. He wiped the back of his neck then pulled the cart up the hill. Looking back at his father, who leaned on his shovel, hunched over, Wang mumbled, “This is not the life for me.”

The action doesn’t have to be life or death, but it needs to let the reader get an idea of know who the protagonist is. It should give the reader something to latch onto.

Editor Mary Kole of Good Story Company said, “the underpinning of action is conflict.”

In the first and second scenarios, Josh is having a problem with his friend.

In the third scenario, Max is afraid. Maybe he’s afraid of failing, or afraid of being made fun of if he can’t climb the wall.

In the fourth scenario, Wang doesn’t want a fate like his father’s. He doesn’t want the back-breaking work and sweat of tending the wheat fields.

These are just one paragraph examples, but they should give you an idea of how to create effective beginnings for your stories.

Just remember that your story beginning should make the reader want to know what’s going on. It should motivate him turn the page.

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

Secondary Characters – Are They Important?

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

Picture Book Writing Style

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May 16

Common Children’s Author Mistakes, Big and Small

I watched a webinar through Children’s Book Insider (CBI) with traditionally published children’s authors Jean Daigneau and Gloria Adams. They had some very helpful tips.

One section I found interesting was:

BIG common mistakes that authors make with children’s books.

  1. The number ONE most common big mistake is a weak plot.

So, what does a weak plot mean?

No conflict, or very little.

Basically…

The main character needs to have a problem. It can be internal or external, but it needs to be something that has consequences attached to it.

The conflict doesn’t need to be life or death; it may be that he figures out a way to stop a bully. Or, she figures out a way to get the bike she’s been wanting. It could even be that he was lonely and finds a friend.

It does need to be something that will get the young reader engaged.

It’s the conflict that will make the reader become invested in the main character’s journey. It’s the conflict that will motivate the reader to read to the end.

  1. The number two most common mistake is the lack of a story arc.

A story needs a full story arc. A beginning, a middle, and an end, and within that structure there needs to conflict that rises.

There also needs to be a satisfying resolution to that conflict.

This is commonly known as Freytag’s Pyramid.

The story starts on the left side of the pyramid. The action and conflict climbs up to the peak (the climax). Then it’s down the right side with falling action and the resolution.

  1. Another big mistake is the lack of a character arc.

The character needs to grow in some way.

He needs to change in some way as a result of his journey to overcome the obstacle blocking him from reaching his goal.

Maybe the character becomes kinder, happier, more confident, smarter, physically stronger, emotionally stronger, more creative, less fearsome. You get the gist.

He shouldn’t be the same person as he was at the beginning of the journey.

When you look at the character at the beginning of the story and then at the end, he needs to be different. There needs to be some kind of growth.

Some of the SMALLER mistakes or problems authors make are:

  1. Double tags.

Here’s an example:

Pete threw his fist in the air. “If he does that again, I don’t know what I’ll do,” he said.

This is a double tag.

It’s already established that Pete is the one talking because he’s noted throwing his fist in the air. The “he said” shouldn’t be included.

If you know the reader will understand who’s talking, you don’t add a dialogue tag.

  1. Picture books and illustrations.

If you’re writing a picture book, take the illustrations into account.

Write with them in mind. Leave enough room for the illustrator to be creative and bring the story to another level.

  1. Illustrator notes.

It may be tempting to try to direct the illustrator with a lot of illustrator notes, but don’t do it.

Unless it’s something that the illustrator wouldn’t know, but needs to know, don’t mention it.

An example of this:

Maybe your protagonist has a dog and you want it to be a specific breed of dog and a specific color. This is something you can note as the illustrator certainly wouldn’t know about it.

  1. Candy-coating the story.

A number of my clients don’t want anything bad to happen to the characters in the story. This is especially true of picture books.

But it’s tough to have conflict if nothing bad can happen to the characters.

The best stories, even if fantasy, have realism in them.

  1. Unsatisfying ending.

The ending of your story is important to get right.

All loose ends must be tied up. And, especially in picture books and writing for young children, the ending must be satisfying.

The reader should go away feeling good about the story.

Another important aspect of the ending is to NOT tell the reader what the message of the story is.

The take-away value of the story should be subtly conveyed through the story itself. Don’t hit the reader over the head with it

Winding this up…

A good story needs it all. It needs conflict with rising action and resolution. It needs character growth with a subtle message.

The best way to incorporate all this into your story is to read a lot of traditionally published books in the genre you’re writing. Pay attention to what makes those books work.

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.