Monday, February 18, 2013
Where do you get your ideas?
This is by far the most common question that authors get. Kids ask me this question at school visits. Adults ask this question when I visit book groups. Writers ask this question to other writers at conferences. While the universal answer is something along the lines of “ideas come from everywhere,” I believe there is a lot to learn from thinking about how ideas come to us and what we do with them when they show up. Here’s my first tip for thinking like a writer:
Observing means paying attention to what is going on around you. Engage with the world. Notice new things. What can you see today that is unexpected? What breaks a stereotype? What is unexplained? What draws your interest and why? Question. Think. Muse.
Pay attention to random thoughts that your subconscious mind interjects into your awareness. Why did your brain make that connection at that moment?
Be a people watcher. Why do people do the things they do? What is body language conveying? What do actions during a tense moment reveal about a person’s character?
Become an ardent eavesdropper. Conversation is happening all around you. Listen. What does each person want from the conversation? What is the context? What is the subtext? Fill in the gaps with your imagination.
Ways to practice observing:
- Challenge yourself to notice one new thing with each of your five senses in a 24-hour period.
- Practice observing as you read. Try to notice an interesting turn of phrase, a fresh word choice, pleasing word flow or a catchy cadence. Aspiring fiction writers can take notice what the writer is doing with plot and characters. What is it about the writing that holds your interest? How did the writer do that?
- Be aware of when you are feeling creative. Is there a certain time of day where your brain is open to creativity? In the shower? Just before you fall asleep? Taking a walk outside? As a writer, that is something you’ll want to know about yourself.
Visit Lana's website for Thinking Like a Writer, Part 2.
Saturday, February 16, 2013
One of the tricky things about writing for children has to do with determining your audience. Who is your story for? The kind of book that will appeal to a seven year old is unlikely to appeal to a 15-year-old; that is, unless the protagonist has a lightning-shaped scar on his forehead.
To familiarize yourself with age categories in children's literature, spend some time in a bookstore with a good selection for children (read as: bbgb tales for kids).
Here is a general idea of how books are marketed for children:
- Board books are appropriate for infants and toddlers. They are short and simple and rely heavily on illustration.
- Picture books are appropriate for pre-readers and readers of ages infant through nine. Nonfiction picture books may stretch that on the upper end. Picture books are meant to be read aloud to young children and include illustrations which tell the story along with the text.
- Early readers are appropriate for children ages five through seven. These books are designed to help a child build his or her independent reading skills. For that reason, they usually have limited vocabulary.
- Chapter books are appropriate for ages seven through nine. These books are similar to novels but have shorter chapters, less complexity, and few if any subplots. They often include several illustrations.
- Middle-grade novels are appropriate for readers ages eight through twelve. They are longer and more complex than chapter books.
- Young adult novels are appropriate for readers ages 13 through 18. The themes and language are more mature than those for the middle-grade audience. Characters and plot become more complex and the narrative voice reflects the adolescent experience.
Not all books fall neatly into these categories, but in general, a book seller has to know how to sell a book, which means that anything that is difficult to categorize could be difficult to sell.
Having said all that, remember that you might not know who the story is for until after you write it. My writing process includes writing the first draft the way the story comes to me. After that, I take a good look at what I've got and try to figure out where it fits in the scheme of things. After you determine your audience, you can revise with your readers in mind and make any changes that will align the story with their reading ability and age-related sensibilities.
Thursday, February 14, 2013
by Chris Sorensen
Maybe you live in a cave. Maybe you have missed the endless barrage of marketing displays, television advertisements, and gentle hints from significant others that this week is a very special week because of a very special holiday.
That’s right, Friday, February 15th is Singles Awareness Day. For all those who did not get an edible chocolate card or a crème filled rose on Valentine’s Day, what better way to feel encouraged about life than to celebrate the fact again the very next day?!
Regardless of whether you are single and live in a cave, or happily attached to somebody and live in any number of possible man-made structures, you can celebrate life and love one of the best ways I know how (sans sweets), and that is by reading.
I personally take time this Valentine’s season to pause and share with the world my love of books. I share my love for the written word and the great stories that are told that help inspire and educate, influence and seduce, and that help us understand what love, hate, joy, pain and life really are about. Next to a faithful pet, books can be a person’s best friend.
So regardless of what you have planned this week – dinner with a loved one on Thursday or a revenge filled bonfire of former ex’s items on Friday - curl up with a good book and fall in love all over again!
Sunday, February 10, 2013
For more information, go to: http://whitneyawards.com/wordpress/finalists/2012-finalists/
Congratulations to Brian Rock whose picture book, "The Deductive Detective" is listed by the Children's Book Council as a "featured anticipated best seller"!
For more information, go to: http://www.cbcbooks.org/readinglists.php?page=hotp-February
A round of applause to each!
Friday, February 8, 2013
I'm trying a new service called Rafflecopter to help me give away
a signed copy of my book, WITH ALL MY HEART for
international book giving day.
Check out the link below to enter for a chance to win!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thursday, February 7, 2013
by Deb Dudley