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Writing for Children

Do you want to learn how to write a children's book? Make money writing for children's magazines? Every Friday the Writing for Children podcast publishes from The Institute of Children's Literature. Since 1969, ICL has taught over 470,205 aspiring writers. Listen to the director of both The Institute for Writers and The Institute of Children's Literature and bestselling children's author Katie Davis host the show as she focuses on the craft of writing for children. She talks about how to write a children’s book, how to write for children’s magazines, how to get paid for your writing, and how to get published in the world of kidlit. There are listener questions, with answers from the experts at the Institute, plus hard-to-find resources, tips, and links included in every week's show notes.
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Now displaying: Page 1
Mar 15, 2019

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

The importance of character development can not be understated. This episode recounts a letter from Move Books editor Eileen Robinson to our Writers' Block members on how to improve our characters, and thereby improve our connection with our readers.

Get a FREE peek into Writers' Block here: http://instituteforwriters.com/freewritersblock

Mar 8, 2019

GREAT CHARACTERS ARE ALL AROUND

One way to find great characters is to look in the world around you. This seems relatively simple but may actually be harder than it sounds.

Why?

Because the key to creating vivid characters is writing them objectively and letting the reader draw their own conclusions.

What does it mean to be objective when writing about your characters? It doesn’t mean you can’t have reactions to, or opinions about, your subject. It does mean showing the reader what you observed in terms of concrete detail, rather than telling what you thought or felt. Yes, we’re back to our good friend, the “show, don’t tell” rule.

Let's get inspired.

Get a FREE peek into Writers' Block here: http://instituteforwriters.com/freewritersblock

Mar 1, 2019

INTERVIEWING THE AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR

Leslie Connor is the author of several award-winning books for children, including THE TRUTH AS TOLD BY MASON BUTTLE, the 2019 winner of the ALA Schneider Family Book Award, WAITING FOR NORMAL, also a winner of the ALA Schneider Family Book Award, CRUNCH, MISS BRIDIE CHOSE A SHOVEL, and the young adult novels DEAD ON TOWN LINE and THE THINGS YOU KISS GOODBYE. She lives with her family in Connecticut.

We talk about:

-character development. Why it’s so important, how to do it, and when.

-how Leslie’s characters go deeper, and are so fully realized the reader feels like they know that person, leaving them sad to leave these people when done with the book.

-does Leslie think of the story first, or the character or characters?

-does she outline first, either mentally or physically?

-how to keep it straight when you write out of order.

-using verbal tics, like Mason’s “Tell you what…”

-revealing a character's learning disability through his language is a great “show don’t tell” method.
How does she tap into that without overdoing it?

Get your Success Journal, free, here: instituteforwriters.com/successjournal

Feb 22, 2019

KEEPING IT SIMPLE

Part of building any story or magazine article is translating what you know and what you’ve researched in usable information for your characters and your readers. In fiction, your character may long to be an astronaut, so you need to be able take that extended process and explain it to your young reader in manageable bits. In nonfiction, it may be taking the technical jargon of how a chocolate factory works and breaking it down into words your audience understands. Inspired by an ICL market guide article written by Devyani Borade, today we are taking complex subjects and keeping them simple.

Get your Success Journal, free, here: instituteforwriters.com/successjournal

Feb 15, 2019

GETTING ORGANIZED FOR THE LONG HAUL

You might think the first draft is the first step in your story's life and for some it might be. However, there are steps you can take before you put pen to paper that will help you out on the journey ahead. Today we talk about researching (for nonfiction and fiction!), getting to know your characters through prewriting, and managing your time to get your project over the finish line.

Sign up for our weekly ICL Newsletter and get leads on hot markets, cool resources, articles on the craft of writing and our free ebook HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN'S BOOK. Join here!

Feb 9, 2019

BUILDING YOUR STORY

Let’s do something a little different today. February is Building Your Story Month at ICL. So, today I’m going to walk you through one of our writing exercises in our Writing for Children and Teens course. Download the show notes at writingforchildren.com/135 to follow along with the photos.

Sign up for our weekly ICL Newsletter and get leads on hot markets, cool resources, articles on the craft of writing and our free ebook HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN'S BOOK. Join here!

Feb 1, 2019

INTERVIEW WITH CAROLYN CRIMI

Carolyn Crimi is the author of numerous picture books, including Boris and Bella, Where's My Mummy?, and Don't Need Friends. Carolyn Crimi received the Prairie State Award in her home state of Illinois for her body of work and her book, There Might Be Lobsters, won the Golden Kite Award in 2018. She was born and raised on Long Island, New York, and now lives in Illinois with her husband and pug.

We talk about:

- developing a manuscript inspired by a real life experiences.

- why you should put your manuscript away for a while.

- easy tips for seeing your manuscript in a new way.

 

Get your Success Journal, free, here: instituteforwriters.com/successjournal

Jan 25, 2019

PRE-WRITE YOUR SUCCESS

Planning a story or book can seem very counterintuitive to some writers who prefer a very organic process of simply sitting down and facing a blank page (or empty screen). There are very successful, professional writers who basically settle in and tell themselves the story as they write it. The story is born in the moments of writing.

You may find that works for you, but if you notice you’re consistently getting stuck while writing your story, or your manuscripts have a very uneven flow, let's consider how prewriting can help.

Get your Success Journal, free, here: instituteforwriters.com/successjournal

Jan 18, 2019

WHAT IS TIME BLOCKING?

Knocking out two birds with one stone. Most folks think that way about multitasking. You can get more done in a day, right? A post on our IFW Writing for Adults blog by Chaunie Brusie, reminded me of an interview I heard about how it was possible to actually get more done if you worked on one thing at a time, so I wanted to share part of that post with you today. After a fair amount of research and personal experience, I believe focusing on one thing at time is more productive. Let's talk about how time blocking can help keep you focused while getting more accomplished.

 

Get your Success Journal, free, here: instituteforwriters.com/successjournal

Jan 11, 2019

TRACK YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS

It's easy to start the year positive and full optimism about your goals. It's hard to keep that momentum going as the year moves on. Today we talk about tracking your success throughout the year with actionable steps to keep you motivated all year long.

 

Get your Success Journal, free, here: instituteforwriters.com/successjournal

Jan 4, 2019

AN INTERVIEW WITH VIVIAN KIRKFIELD

Vivian Kirkfield’s career path is paved with picture books. She shelved them at the library during her college years. She read them to her students when she taught kindergarten. And now, she writes them. She makes her picture book author debut in 2019 with three, yes, THREE, new titles including Pippa’s Passover Plate (Holiday House, February 2019), Four Otters Toboggan: An Animal Counting Book (PomegranateKids, March 2019), and Sweet Dreams, Sarah (Creston Books, May 2019). Vivian is a great example of how hard work and a willingness to learn can lead to success!

We talk about:

  • Manuscript Wishlist
  • Pitmad
  • How to connect to the larger community
  • Most important things to do as new writer
  • What do you need
  • 4 Ps that you need to keep going when you don’t feel like moving forward

 

Get your Success Journal, free, here: instituteforwriters.com/successjournal

Dec 28, 2018

IDENTIFYING WHAT'S HOLDING YOU BACK

When you look back on your year, what was the biggest obstacle to finishing your book? Most folks think it’s lack of skills.

You may be surprised that the most common obstacle that stops aspiring writers is a lack of time. Skills you can improve through courses, workshops, or a lot of practice, practice, practice. But if you have a family, a job, social obligations, if you keep putting that story or article aside, if you constantly find that you’re putting the day job, housework, yard work, volunteering, cooking, or cleaning ahead of your writing, you’re simply not going to get anywhere. You have to generate words…lots of words…in order to succeed in this business.

Let's talk about how to get ahead next year.

Ready to get your FREE Success Journal? - Set your goals. You're more likely to reach your goals if you write them down. - Celebrate your success! Document your successes throughout the year and reward yourself. - Plus, 10 tips for goal setting, checklists, printable quarterly, monthly, and weekly planners. Get your Success Journal, free, here: instituteforwriters.com/successjournal

Dec 7, 2018

AN INTERVIEW WITH ANN SHEYBANI

This is Ann.

“I began my practice as a book-writing coach, not just because I like bossing people around, which I do, but also because I know all of your sorry excuses for not settling down to write your book, because I invented them. In other words, I’ve got your number, cupcake. I may look nice, but don’t  let that fool you. You need to prepare yourself for  an ass kicking. It’s time to blindfold your sorry  excuses for not writing your book, hand them a lit  cigarette, then shoot them.”

We talk about…

  • What rules do you make for yourself?
  • How to cut yourself a break?
  • Redefine what it is to be a writer
  • How do you get things done?
  • Best way to get the work done?
  • What can you do in 10 minutes?
  • What a music video can teach you about writing

First month is FREE for the Writers' Block! Go to writingforchildren.com/writersblock use code WBPOD18

Nov 30, 2018

WRITE A GRIPPING NOVEL

You want your book to be referred to like this: “Fast-paced.” “Gripping.” “A page-turner.” “I couldn’t put it down.” Why do some books get these comments, while others are called “slow” or “flat”?

Let's get to the bottom of the pacing dilemma in today's episode.

First month is FREE for the Writers' Block! Go to writingforchildren.com/writersblock use code WBPOD18

Nov 23, 2018

CHARACTERS, SETTING, AND THEME, OH MY!

This week is Thanksgiving in the U.S., so we are bringing you a rebroadcast of a popular episode. Time to take it back to the basics and discuss characters, setting, and theme in children's books.

First month is FREE for the Writers' Block! Go to writingforchildren.com/writersblock use code WBPOD18

Nov 16, 2018

BRINGING READERS BACK FOR MORE

I’ve been watching my nieces learning to read. They study the pictures. They beg for more, and readily cuddle up while we read together. I remember my then three-year-old son memorizing his favorite books and pretending to read (of course, we thought him a genius!) So how can you create great picture books with the identifying characteristics that will magnetize your readers and draw them to your work, again and again?

First month is FREE for the Writers' Block! Go to writingforchildren.com/writersblock use code WBPOD18

Nov 9, 2018

LISTS YOU SHOULD KEEP

Have you ever seen one of those journals where the pages have dots instead of lines? It’s called a bullet journal. If your desk has a tendency to become a bunny nest of paper scraps with lists on them, this could be a great idea for you. All of the lists are things you want to be reminded of. Sorting through your nest of lists could be the first step in creating valuable writer lists. Let's talk about the kinds of list that writers can use.

First month is FREE for the Writers' Block! Go to writingforchildren.com/writersblock use code WBPOD18

Nov 2, 2018

AN INTERVIEW WITH HANNAH HOLT

Debut picture book author Hannah Holt shares the results of her extensive surveys of picture book authors (How much do they make? What kind of advance do they get? Do they make more with or without an agent?), advice for prepublished authors, and how she researched and brought to life the picture book based on her grandfather, THE DIAMOND AND THE BOY.

First month is FREE for the Writers' Block! Go to writingforchildren.com/writersblock use code WBPOD18

Oct 26, 2018

USING TENSION AND PACE

This podcast was inspired by a post a former instructor wrote for us, the late Mary Rosenblum.

Let’s begin at the beginning. What exactly are tension and pace? Think of tension as a rubber band that pulls on us as we read. As the tension increases, that rubber band pulls us to the edge of our seats, riveted to the action on the page. As it relaxes, we sag back onto the sofa and enjoy the scenery in your world, really noticing those delicate drops of dew and the exquisite colors of the birds’ plumage. Controlling tension and pace is a matter of craft.

First month is FREE for the Writers' Block! Go to writingforchildren.com/writersblock use code WBPOD18

Oct 19, 2018

RECONNECTING WITH A WORK IN PROGRESS

One of the problems with writing is that it's fairly difficult to complete a project in one sitting. It can sometimes be a bit easier with a picture book where the rough draft may come in a rush during one sitting and then you return again and again to revise (and sometimes to rewrite). But for longer works, it's almost mandatory that you be able to stop, go about your non-writing life, and then return to the project. This can be difficult, especially if the break between the stop and return is lengthy. We're constantly changing as people and as writers, so returning to an older work in progress can be daunting. There are some things that can help.

 

First month is FREE for the Writers' Block when you use coupon code WBPOD18 - Go to writingforchildren.com/writersblock

Oct 12, 2018

ANSWERING A FEW BUT FREQUENT QUESTIONS

For many children's writers, the concept of attempting a novel is daunting at best and filled with questions. So for the sake of those looking toward this exciting writing option, let's answer a few unusual but frequently asked questions:

- How long should a chapter be?

- What is high concept?

- What is a mainstream novel?

- Can I combine a bunch of stories into one book and call it a novel?

First month is FREE for the Writers' Block when you use coupon code: WBPOD18 - Go to writingforchildren.com/writersblock

Oct 5, 2018

AN INTERVIEW WITH ANNE R. ALLEN

Anne R. Allen writes funny mysteries and how-to-books for writers. She also writes poetry and short stories on occasion. Oh, yes, and she blogs. She's a contributor to Writer's Digest and the Novel and Short Story Writer's Market.

In this episode, Anne shares how keeping a writer's blog may be easier than you think!

First month is FREE for the Writers' Block! Go to writingforchildren.com/writersblock

Sep 28, 2018

TIPS FOR YOUR WRITER WEBSITE

Every author needs a website—yes, even if you're not published yet. In the Internet age, your website acts as your online business card for readers and even prospective agents and editors.

Today we discuss tips for keeping your website user friendly and keep them coming back for more.

Join the Writers' Block! Go to writingforchildren.com/writersblock

Sep 21, 2018

5 TIPS FOR YOUR AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

Amazon is the largest bookstore out there. Not only that, but did you realize it’s a search engine, just like Google? Not only that, it’s a search engine that people go to intending to buy things. Buy things like your books.

If you publish on Amazon, whether as a Kindle author, Create Space author, or with a traditional publishing house, you’re entitled to an “Author Page.” But so many authors simply don’t take the time to make the most out of their author page, and they’re missing out—not only on an opportunity to make a great impression, but on the chance to earn more money as well. Today, we talk about how to get the most of your Amazon Author Page.

Join the Writers' Block! Encouragement, support, and critiques for our members. Go to writingforchildren.com/writersblock to check it out!

Sep 14, 2018

TIPS FOR CREATING QUALITY DIALOGUE

A while ago on the Institute's Facebook page, someone was asking about dialogue, which made me think again about this important writing tool. And if you’re writing to self-publish you really need to know about how to write dialogue. Readers love dialogue because it makes a scene and a character come to life. Dialogue puts us into a specific moment within a story and that's a powerful thing for readers. But many writers struggle with dialogue and with making it feel lively, purposeful, and real. So what should you do first in the pursuit of good dialogue?

Join the Writers' Block! Encouragement, support, and critiques for our members. Go to writingforchildren.com/writersblock to check it out!

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