Tag Archives: Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers

Writing a Book Together: Staying on Course

This is the third time I’ve tried to post this blog entry. For some reason yesterday, every blog post got lost.

Today is a simple post. I’m interested in how many pages you’re feeling you can write each day (now that a few days of writing together have passed).

I’ve joined the JanNoWriMo that Bruce Luck set up for an easier month of writing plus I’m supposed to make an accounting of my writing in another WIFYR group. But life has a way of creeping in. In my case, right now, it’s the needs of others. But I’ve heard these excuses, and maybe used one or two:

“I don’t have enough time.” “I’m waiting for the right moment.” “It’s too hard.” “I have to work.” “Some day . . .”

When I was just beginning to write, I worked at an ice cream production plant in Florida. I packed ice cream for hours every single day. There was lots of time to think through writing troubles. But when the urge to write came, there wasn’t time or a place or even the material to do anything. I finally solved this by writing in the 30 second intervals of free time I had when working with another ice cream packer. (Man, I was NOT good at that job. I was so uncoordinated. Come to think of it, I still am).  I wrote entire sections of my stories on ice cream sandwich boxes. Those stories wound up in my first book, Kelly and Me.

My sweet friend Laura Torres taught herself to write in 15 minute increments. She sold millions of her crafts books (see Friendship Bracelets).

So what are your goals? How many words do you plan to write each day? How much do you plan to rewrite? And the better question is this: How do you plan to accomplish that goal?

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

To Ly Word or Not to Ly Word: Writing Real Good. No. I Mean It. (Part 1)

In writer’s group (a million years ago), an author read her work aloud. The story was a fantasy and while the plot might have been interesting, it got lost in the words.

That can happen, you know. Too many words. Too many weak words. Too many throw away words.

Your words should work for you. Hard.

“If you do these few things,” I said, offering suggestions because we were in writer’s group, trying to be better writers, “you’ll strengthen the writing. Everything will be more clear. Cleaner.”

“Oh,” she said, waving me off. “My genre excuses bad writing.”

My eyeballs fell on the floor and rolled under an arm chair.

Another published writer in that same group said to suggested changes from us, “That’s what my editor’s for. To catch these mistakes.” We had offered suggestions because we were in writer’s group, trying to be better writers. Get it?

At Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers my hope is every writer learns how to be the best writer she can be. Writing well is a process. I always strive to form tight, strong sentences. I want to be better. We can never know too much.

(Here’s an argument from William Faulkner.  “Let the writer take up surgery or bricklaying if he is interested in technique. There is no mechanical way to get the writing done, no shortcut. The young writer would be a fool to follow a theory. Teach yourself by your own mistakes; people learn only by error. The good artist believes that nobody is good enough to give him advice. He has supreme vanity. No matter how much he admires the old writer, he wants to beat him.”)

“But, said another writing friend of mine, “you know readers are blind to style.”

That may be, Writing Brothers and Sisters, but at this point, I’m still not. And so as long as I write, I plan to write the best I can. And this week on TUW, I wanna talk about a few tips. Here’s one for today.

My mother said, “If you have to pay a dollar for every word you put on the page, you’d trim your writing and use only the best language.” Mark Twain said, “Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”

You can cut some of these words, too–that, well, start, begin, just, was-ing words

Question: What words are throw aways in your opinion?

TO BE CONTINUED

9 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Conflict? Say What?

So I did something I never do. I spoke to an editor at Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers. Kelsy Thompson is an editor for Jolly Fish and Flux. Both houses were recently acquired by North Star Editions (https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-industry-news/article/72423-north-star-editions-shining-a-light-on-ya-and-mg-fiction.html).

I was scared as it was as I walked in to talk to her. And Kelsey is super kind. Still I didn’t have my printed pages (broke rule number one–be prepared) and as I rambled at her (broke rule number two–be able to sell your work in 25 words or less),  I realized I had no idea what my newest novel was about (broke rule number three–know what you’re story is about in the first place).

After stammering at her for awhile, Kelsy said, “This book idea sounds so cute, Carol. But what’s the conflict?”

Conflict?

I looked at her for about 18 years. Then I jumped up and ran out of the room. I scared three people who were in line to see this terrific editor. This is not my fault.

So what is conflict?  We know our characters have goals–things they want. Our job as writers is to keep our characters from getting what they want. That series of events of hindering and stopping our characters from achieving their goals is where the conflict is.

Here’s some math to make things more confusing:  cute girl character + what she wants, what she really, really wants + stumbling blocks you throw in the way to torture your character = conflict.

I can do that. Can I do that?

Let’s meet here tomorrow and see.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Agents, Editors, Plot, writing process

Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers, 2017, and a Chance to Win a Googillion Dollars!

Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers is just around the corner. I can’t believe it. And we already have dates, and faculty, for next year. What? I know!

So

What would YOU do with a googillion dollars?

I would get allergy medicine that didn’t cause Alzheimer’s or dementia and the pills would really work.

#44

What is your main character’s secret desire? How does this work with the story and the major dramatic question?

Look closer. What is the real secret desire? Does everything in the novel point to this want? Will your character be better or worse if he achieves his goal?

How will you change after writing this book?

Leave a comment

Filed under Character, CLW, Exercises, giveaways, Plot, writing process

A Crime of Passion?

How are you coming with the writing prompts? Are you giving yourself thirty minutes a day to work on these different ideas? I’ve decided, when Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers (www.wifyr.com) is over this year, I’m gonna go back through all these and do each one.

One per day.

Perhaps I will post some of my results. There seems to be serious interest in this blog and I want to keep this going. (Imagine a gif with people laughing their heads off, literally.)

I keep bugging my friend, Trent Reedy, to write a book with me.

He is a boy.

I am girl.

We would have different points of views. This is good in writing.

But I can tell my friend isn’t interested in the ideas I come up with.

He’s very kind about it but he has no passion for my ideas.

Not too long ago Ann Dee and I brainstormed the next book we want to write together. We have this terrific start that’s a little scary because we’re only sorta sure where it will go. SO we wanted to think of something else.

 

As we went back and forth, the ideas I felt excited about, she was sorta like, “Uuuuummmmm.”

And then when she came up with a new idea, I was like, “Eeeeerrrrr.”

We didn’t share a passion. And without that–Trent Reedy and I or Ann Dee and I–can’t get a good book on the page.

You must care about your work.

# 38

Do you care about your novel?

Why?

Why not?

Is it worth the hours, the sweat, the worry, the writing and rewriting you must do?

Why?

Why not?

Is this book worth sticking though the tough parts?

Why?

Why not?

Leave a comment

Filed under Ann Dee, CLW, Exercises, Life, Plot, writing process

Three Thing Thursday

 

1. It’s our second annual WIFYR Kick-off! Our speaker this year? None other than the amazing J. Scott Savage. Scott is the award-winning author of more than 14 books and he’s gonna get us pumped up to face this new year writing.
Listening to Scott, doing writing exercises, a few drawings, and mingling with other writers. What’s better than that?
Who? You and your writing buddies are invited but space is limited, so make sure you register to get your ticket. Ages 16 and up.
When? January 20, 7:00 – 8:30 pm.
Where? The Provo City Library at Academy Square (550 N University Avenue, Provo, UT).
Cost? A potluck item and, if you’d like, a new or gently-used book for a needy library. How? To reserve your spot, click   http://www.wifyr.com/events/
2.WIFYR is pleased to host its second event of day-long writing workshops, this time with literary agent, Erin Harris, from Folio Jr, Feb 22-25. More info to come.
3. School starts again next week. Your main character is scared to go back. Why? Who or what is waiting for him? What will happen? How will your character get out of this mess?

1 Comment

Filed under three thing thursday

A Gift to You

Every semester at the beginning of my creative writing classes, or every June for Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers, I meet people who don’t have time to write.

I get it.

There are lots of things I don’t have time for–cleaning out the fridge, going grocery shopping, arguing with people I don’t like.

But the stuff I really care about–my religion, my kids, my friends and my writing? I make time for that.

For some reason we writers feel like our writing just isn’t as important as someone else’s full time job. Perhaps this is, in part, the  way our society views what we do.

“Oh, you’re a writer? That means you’re home all day? Can you help me with ABC.” And they AREN’T asking about the alphabet.

(Stay at home Moms–you’ve probably been asked to do tons for others because you are at home and that means, you know, that you have more time because you aren’t as busy.)

“Will you read my novel?”

“Will you edit my novel?”

“Will you watch my kids as I go tan?”

Over the years I’ve met lots of people who want to publish.

Some never will  because they are waiting for Time to fall in their laps instead of taking Time.

Some always allow what they consider more important to get in way of their writing.

Some are afraid.

If you have learned anything from this blog where we all complain, it’s that writing is HARD.

But, it’s also worth it.

At the end of each semester I say to my students, “You have permission to give yourself the gift of writing. An hour each day. Thirty minutes. Whatever you chose. Writing to you is as important as the car mechanic going to the shop to work or the doctor to the her office. Allow yourself to think your writing time is sacred. Is your own. Is a gift to you, from you.”

So what will YOU do to make time to reach your writing goals?

2 Comments

Filed under CLW