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Writing for Children: How to Write a Children's Book, Writing for Magazines, Getting Paid for Writing, Getting Published

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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Sep 22, 2017

HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS?

At this point in my writing career, I have never won any of the biggest prestigious awards, but I do make a living from my writing so I feel pretty successful. Success means something different to each of us, of course. If your idea of success involves the words "J.K. Rowling," I probably can't give you many tips. That level of success comes from a creative mind, a strong work ethic, and a good solid scoop of luck. But if you're defining success by being published regularly, and getting steady income from your work, I can give you five tips that I have used in my life.

Listen to the full episode for all five tips!

What's your question?

Tell us and we'll answer your writing questions on the podcast. Go to this link and leave your question: http://www.writingforchildren.com/speak.

Every writer needs a fresh set of eyes.
Submit your manuscript to our critique service and one of our instructors will give you a full critique to make your story the best it can be before you send it to that perfect agent or publisher. Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

Sep 15, 2017

HOW TO WRITE CRAFT ARTICLES MAGAZINES WILL BUY

Crafts are one of those things I don't write about, but I have a friend who does, and when she does, she almost always makes a sale. The magazines that use them need a steady stream. The reason crafts are a staple of many children's magazines is because they help to make content interactive. They don't just offer a story or article, but let the child move beyond the magazine to create something new. Interactivity is a goal of many magazines, work that engages the reader and also leads to the reader doing something. A craft can fit this bill.

They're not difficult to write, either. In fact, writing a craft article has a lot in common with writing a recipe.

For step-by-step instructions, listen to the full episode.

Do you have questions about how the children's publishing industry works?

Tell us and we'll answer your writing questions on the podcast. Go to this link and leave your question: http://www.writingforchildren.com/speak.

Is your manuscript submission-ready?
Submit your manuscript to our critique service and one of our instructors will give you a full critique to make your story the best it can be before you send it to that perfect agent or publisher. Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

Sep 8, 2017

NUMBER ONE, ENGAGE!

When editors ask for characters that grow and change, they aren’t asking for a story about life’s lessons. They don’t mean they want a lecture on manners disguised as a story. What they want is for the situation in the story to have an impact on the main character that causes growth and change. And they want it to happen during a story that engages and entertains.

When you are totally engaged, you can’t help but learn from the experience.

So how do we engage the youngest reader so that they both enjoy and learn from what we write?

Listen to the full episode to find out!

Do you have questions about how the children's publishing industry works?

Tell us and we'll answer your writing questions on the podcast. Go to this link and leave your question: http://www.writingforchildren.com/speak.

Is your manuscript submission-ready?
Submit your manuscript to our critique service and one of our instructors will give you a full critique to make your story the best it can be before you send it to that perfect agent or publisher. Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

Sep 2, 2017

LEARNING HOW THINGS WORK

One of the things that my father-in-law loved about me when we first met was that I had my own power tools. But since my husband is so good at fixing stuff, I've slacked off. As a result, I’ve gotten really rusty and hesitant about using some of the really dangerous things and our garage is a scary reminder every time I’m in there. I’ve actually gotten scared of using some of them! But lately, since we have to build a fence for our puppy, Ollie, I’ve been slowly rediscovering that there are some power tools I can use to make my life easier. It's been scary, but fun.

In a lot of ways, writing is like my garage. There are writing tools that can simply make a mess of your poetry or prose if you don't use them purposefully or correctly. As a result, many new writers simply live in terror of them and will spout truisms like, "Never use being verbs!" Or "Flashbacks are evil!" Or "Cut out all adverbs!" The truth is that every tool in the writing toolkit has value including backstory, adverbs, passive voice, viewpoint switching, or any of a truckload of things you've been told to avoid. The key isn't to keep your hands off; the key is to learn how to use the tool properly.

Do you have questions about how the children's publishing industry works?

Tell us and we'll answer your writing questions on the podcast. Go to this link and leave your question: http://www.writingforchildren.com/speak.

Is your manuscript submission-ready?
Submit your manuscript to our critique service and one of our instructors will give you a full critique to make your story the best it can be before you send it to that perfect agent or publisher. Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

Aug 26, 2017

HARD TIMES HAPPEN

People often tell me how lucky I am to make a profession from something I enjoy deeply. And I am thrilled that this has been possible for me. I love being a writer. Except when I don't. No profession is made up of only happy days. Since I line up deadlines, I then I have to meet them. All of them. Some days, that's hard. Some days the words not only don't pour out of me, they don't even dribble. Some days, it just feels too hard. And that's when the professional side is going well. There are also the surprises, like when a publisher cancels a project you've been working on or decides not to publish something they've already said yes to. Those days are rough.

For writers who have been published, and especially for those who have been published with some regularity, it can be difficult to talk about the hard days. You don't want to sound ungrateful. And you don't want to sound like you're actually whining about your success, or bragging through complaining. There are lots of ways to be a braggart and none of us want to fall into any of those. So it can be easy to let the hard days isolate you from other writers. But the community of writers is sometimes the only support we have, so we need to work through the hard days as well as dance through the good ones.

Do you have questions about how the children's publishing industry works?

Tell us and we'll answer your writing questions on the podcast. Go to this link and leave your question: http://www.writingforchildren.com/speak.

Is your manuscript submission-ready?
Submit your manuscript to our critique service and one of our instructors will give you a full critique to make your story the best it can be before you send it to that perfect agent or publisher. Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

Aug 18, 2017

THE FLIGHT OF THE ARROW

Many writing books have tried to explain the nature of plot. Some talk about story arc. Some talk about beginnings, middles, and ends. Some talk about conflicts and character growth. Right now, I’m going to talk about arrows. You shoot them, they travel swiftly to the destination you intend – if you are skilled enough, if you are strong enough, and if you actually have a destination in mind. Some writers say they just sit down and start writing and let the story develop as they write. Some don’t like that kind of “seat of your pants” writing because the writer has to do so much revision. But whether you plan the plot-arrow’s flight ahead of time, or revise until it’s flying straight and true, the plot still needs to fly. It needs to cover the ground from beginning to end in a strong, forward motion.

Do you have questions about how the children's publishing industry works?

Tell us and we'll answer your writing questions on the podcast. Go to this link and leave your question: http://www.writingforchildren.com/speak.

Is your manuscript submission-ready?
Submit your manuscript to our critique service and one of our instructors will give you a full critique to make your story the best it can be before you send it to that perfect agent or publisher. Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

Aug 4, 2017

Picturing Picture Book Summit

My guest today is fellow Picture Book Summit Co-Founder Julie Hedlund. This episode is a rebroadcast from my previous podcast Brain Burps About Books. In this interview, we talk about how Picture Book Summit came to be and what you, as a picture book writer, can learn from an online conference.

If you're curious how an online writing conference works, you're in luck! We are hosting a FREE Mini Summit on August 22, 2017. In "Don't Write Your Grandma's Picture Books," the Picture Book Summit Team will reveal how music, movies, and media have changed the ways kids read picture books, how kids today are in search of more sophisticated humor and shorter pacing, and how nonfiction has drastically changed in the last decade. 

You can see all the details at

http://bit.ly/PBMini2017

 

Do you have questions about how the children's publishing industry works?

Tell us and we'll answer your writing questions on the podcast. Go to this link and leave your question: http://www.writingforchildren.com/speak.

Is your manuscript submission-ready?
Submit your manuscript to our critique service and one of our instructors will give you a full critique to make your story the best it can be before you send it to that perfect agent or publisher. Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

Jul 28, 2017

WRAPPING UP YOUR STORY

Author John Green likes to collect famous last words. The last things we speak can say a lot about us, or they can be vague and anti-climactic. That’s because real life isn’t as tidy as a story. In a story, the last lines usually do say a lot (even if only symbolically) about the story.

For the last word on this topic and an ending checklist, listen to the full episode.

 

Do you have questions about how the children's publishing industry works?

Tell us and we'll answer your writing questions on the podcast. Go to this link and leave your question: http://www.writingforchildren.com/speak.

Is your manuscript submission-ready?
Submit your manuscript to our critique service and one of our instructors will give you a full critique to make your story the best it can be before you send it to that perfect agent or publisher. Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

Jul 21, 2017

HOW TO TIME YOUR ENDING

In a way, every story is a story of transformation. Circumstances change. Characters experience revelations. Challenges are met and overcome. The longer the work you’re writing, the more transformations are likely to occur. In board books and many picture books, for instance, the transformation is often simply circumstance. In the very famous Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, the little rabbit experiences the changes that come with bedtime. The little rabbit undergoes no change in personality or beliefs, and nothing is really overcome. The transformation is simple because board books are often more about the sound of the language and the images than they are about any deep story. But board books can accomplish a bit more. Lift-the-Flap board books are often a type of mystery. In another famous board book, Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill, the reader joins Spot’s mother on a search for her pup. Finding the ending in these books is quite simple. Good Night Moon ends after we’ve bid everyone and everything possible a “good night.” Where’s Spot? ends with the finding of Spot.

But what about a more complicated book? How do you find the right ending for the picture book you’re presently tooling with? Again, transformation can be the key to finding the ending. How many things transform in your book? Have you revealed all of them?

Listen to the full episode for advice on ramping up to your ending.

Do you have questions about how the children's publishing industry works?

Tell us and we'll answer your writing questions on the podcast. Go to this link and leave your question: http://www.writingforchildren.com/speak.

 

Before you hit send...
Submit your manuscript to our critique service and one of our instructors will give you a full critique to make your story the best it can be before you send it to that perfect agent or publisher. Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

 

Jul 14, 2017

WHY SUBMISSION GUIDELINES MATTER

Many times, editors finally find time to dig into the slush pile or they open their email and check out submissions and get a disappointing surprise. People send poetry for children to publishers who list “no poetry” right in their guidelines. People send fiction for children to publishers who only publish nonfiction. People send parenting essays to magazines that only publish material for children. Why would anyone send things like this when it cannot possibly result in a sale?

They do it because they never read the magazine or checked out the publisher’s list. They didn’t read the submissions guidelines. They didn’t get our incredible annual guides that give you all the information you could possibly need in order to get published, and/or they didn’t do a search online for information about the publisher from third party sources.
 
They simply didn’t bother.

 

To find what editors do with these submissions and how you can avoid being one of them, listen to the full episode.

 

Do you have questions about how the children's publishing industry works?

Tell us and we'll answer your writing questions on the podcast. Go to this link and leave your question: http://www.writingforchildren.com/speak.

 

Before you hit send...
Submit your manuscript to our critique service and one of our instructors will give you a full critique to make your story the best it can be before you send it to that perfect agent or publisher. Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

 

Jul 7, 2017

MAKE A LIST AND CHECK IT TWICE

As you work through your revision and polish up your work, don’t forget dialogue. Few things can do more for your story than good dialogue, so it’s worthwhile to get it right.

___Check that all spoken dialogue is enclosed in quotation marks and that punctuation occurs inside the quotation marks. [Enclosing all punctuation within the quotes is standard style of most American publishers.]

___Only spoken words go in quotes, thoughts do not need to be set off with quotation marks. Some writers use italics to set off thoughts.

___The best verb for tagging your dialogue is “said.” Use other verbs when they truly add to the moment. And do not use verbs as speech tags unless they actually describe speech -- “sneered” or “snorted” and the like are not speech tags.

For the rest of the checklist, listen to the full episode.

 

Do you have questions about how the children's publishing industry works?

Tell us and we'll answer your writing questions on the podcast. Go to this link and leave your question: http://www.writingforchildren.com/speak.

 

Before you hit send...
Submit your manuscript to our critique service and one of our instructors will give you a full critique to make your story the best it can be before you send it to that perfect agent or publisher. Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

 

Jun 30, 2017

DON'T KILL THE QUERY

Among cover and query letters for children’s fiction, there exists one absolutely killer mistake that is frequently made by new writers. They forget why children read fiction. Most fiction that you write and will sell will not be assigned as homework, so none of the children who read it will be forced to read it. They must want to read it. Editors know this, so the number one thing they want to know about your manuscript is: will children want to read this?

That’s the number one thing you must prove with your query letter.

To learn how to create a query that conveys the fun of your story, listen to the full episode.

 

Do you have questions about how the children's publishing industry works?

Tell us and we'll answer your writing questions on the podcast. Go to this link and leave your question: http://www.writingforchildren.com/speak.

 

Before you hit send...
Submit your manuscript to our critique service and one of our instructors will give you a full critique to make your story the best it can be before you send it to that perfect agent or publisher. Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

 

Jun 23, 2017

CREATING CONFLICT

Every story needs conflict. The tension of resolving that conflict is what compels the audience to read all the way to the end of your book. Today we look at 7 tips for creating conflict.

1. Be certain your main character has a worthy, noble goal. No one likes a shallow greedy protagonist. Be sure it’s a realistic goal as well or your young reader won’t relate to it. So the young child who wants to make his mom a specific gift is relatable. The young child who wants to sell all his toys so he can give his big brother the bike he wants is a tad harder to believe.

2. Consider the tension of a ticking clock. Time limits for reaching a goal will create an urgency that readers find compelling.

For all seven tips, listen to the full episode.

 

Do you have questions about how the children's publishing industry works?

Tell us and we'll answer your writing questions on the podcast. Go to this link and leave your question: http://www.writingforchildren.com/speak.

 

Before you hit send...
Submit your manuscript to our critique service and one of our instructors will give you a full critique to make your story the best it can be before you send it to that perfect agent or publisher. Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

Jun 16, 2017

WHAT MAGAZINE EDITORS WANT

1. Magazines are often picky about their nonfiction magazine sources. Although few prohibit using Internet sources, they should never be your only–or even your main sources. And never, ever use Wikipedia as a source.

2. One good thing websites are good for is pointing you toward primary sources that you can contact by email for specific information pertaining to your subject. Often you can find the email addresses of professors at major universities, curators at museums, and other experts from the websites to which they contribute.

For all eight must-know facts, listen to the full episode.

 

Do you have questions about how the children's publishing industry works?

Tell us and we'll answer your writing questions on the podcast. Go to this link and leave your question: http://www.writingforchildren.com/speak.

 

Before you hit send...
Submit your manuscript to our critique service and one of our instructors will give you a full critique to make your story the best it can be before you send it to that perfect agent or publisher. Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

Jun 9, 2017

LITTLE THINGS CAN MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE

Have you hit a roadblock with your writing? You got the story down, but something seems to be missing? Or you just know it can be better, but you don't know where to start? Today we touch on 7 things you can do to bump up your story.

1. Make your story stink! Consider the sensory detail in your work. Studies have shown that the sense of smell is one our most emotionally evocative senses. As a writer, are you just a sightseer or do your stories stink as well? Stink in an evocative way!

2. Consider your motivations. Don’t overlook the motives of minor characters. You may not ever reveal why your villain acts so villainous, but you should know. The better you have thought out the motivations of each character, the more naturally well rounded they will become.

For all seven tips, listen to the full episode.

 

Do you have questions about how the children's publishing industry works?

Tell us and we'll answer your writing questions on the podcast. Go to this link and leave your question: http://www.writingforchildren.com/speak.

 

Before you hit send...
Submit your manuscript to our critique service and one of our instructors will give you a full critique to make your story the best it can be before you send it to that perfect agent or publisher. Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

Jun 2, 2017

ARE YOU PROPERLY FORMATTING YOUR DIALOGUE?

Formatting dialogue in any manuscript can be perplexing. Follow these 8 guidelines so you don't get tripped up by tricky dialogue.

1. Check that all spoken dialogue is enclosed in quotation marks and that punctuation occurs inside the quotation marks. [Enclosing all punctuation within the quotes is standard style of most American publishers.]

2. Only spoken words go in quotes, thoughts do not need to be set off with quotation marks. Some writers use italics to set off thoughts.

3. The best verb for tagging your dialogue is “said.” Use other verbs when they truly add to the moment. And do not use verbs as speech tags unless they actually describe speech: sneered, snorted, or giggled, and the like are not speech tags because they are not specific ways we vocalize words.

For all eight tips, listen to the full episode.

 

Do you have questions about how the children's publishing industry works?

Tell us and we'll answer your writing questions on the podcast. Go to this link and leave your question: http://www.writingforchildren.com/speak.

 

Before you hit send...
Submit your manuscript to our critique service and one of our instructors will give you a full critique to make your story the best it can be before you send it to that perfect agent or publisher. Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

 

May 26, 2017

DO YOU KNOW YOUR CHARACTER?

Consider asking yourself (or your character) these questions. The answers will help you understand your character's motivation and how their mind works. You may not use any of the answers in your actual story, but knowing the answers will help you write a more fully developed character.

1. Interview your character. Imagine yourself as a reporter asking your character questions about how he was feeling at different points in the book and why he did things. As you relax and answer the questions, you often find new dimensions to the character.

2. Consider giving your main character a “catch phrase.” Even if you never actually use the catch phrase in your work, imagining a catch phrase that matches your character will reveal a lot about him/her. After all, a kid whose catch phrase is “full steam ahead” is a totally different person from one whose catch phrase is “Be careful, be safe.”

For all eight tips and questions, listen to the full episode.

 

Do you have questions about how the children's publishing industry works?

Tell us and we'll answer your writing questions on the podcast. Go to this link and leave your question: http://www.writingforchildren.com/speak.

 

Before you hit send...
Submit your manuscript to our critique service and one of our instructors will give you a full critique to make your story the best it can be before you send it to that perfect agent or publisher. Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

May 19, 2017

FUN WITH SOUND
One way to add bounce to your writing is to play with sound. You can choose words that depict sounds like bump, crash, bang, or gong–that’s called onomatopoeia. Which means the word sounds like what it is, or the sound it’s making, like “zip.” Or you can play with sounds within words. That can be more subtle, but still lots of fun.

Alliteration is the repetition of similar word sounds, and can take the form of assonance or consonance. When a vowel sound is repeated, it is assonance; repeated consonants create consonance (which is often identified as simply alliteration).

Listen to the full episode for more fun ways to use sound in your stories. Read more in our show notes: http://writingforchildren.com/052

 

What's the writing question you have but are afraid to ask?

Tell us and we'll answer your writing questions on the podcast. Go to this link and leave your question: http://www.writingforchildren.com/speak.

 

Does your manuscript need a fresh set of eyes?
Submit your manuscript to our critique service and one of our instructors will give you a full critique to make your story the best it can be. Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

May 12, 2017

GET CRAFTY!

Crafts are one of those things that many writers don’t really consider when coming up with a publishable project. But the magazines that use crafts, need a steady stream. The reason crafts are a staple of many children's magazines is because they help to make content interactive. They don’t just offer a story or article, but let the child move beyond the magazine to create something new. Interactivity is a goal of many magazines, work that engages the reader and also leads to the reader doing something. A craft can fit this bill. Also, crafts and other hands-on creative activities are particularly popular with the “maker movement” that has taken over popular culture.


Craft how-to articles are not difficult to write, either, and you can be paid for them. In fact, writing a craft article has a lot in common with writing a recipe. You usually have a list of ingredients (materials and tools needed) and a list of directions.

Listen to the full episode for three keys to an effective craft for children’s magazines. Read more in our show notes: http://writingforchildren.com/051

 

What's the writing question you have but are afraid to ask?

Tell us and we'll answer your writing questions on the podcast. Go to this link and leave your question: http://www.writingforchildren.com/speak.

 

Does your manuscript need a fresh set of eyes?
Submit your manuscript to our critique service and one of our instructors will give you a full critique to make your story the best it can be. Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

May 5, 2017

REFUSED TO BE BORED AND BE A BETTER WRITER FOR IT

"If something, some topic gives me that excited feeling in my stomach, I start to research it to see if there is enough to make a good book. If there is, I write it. Anything that amazes me could wind up being the subject of a book.” —Kelly Milner Halls

Not too long ago Jan Fields wrote about this on our blog and in our newsletter. She chose Kelly Milner Halls' quote about her excitement at finding new weird topics to write about, because, as she wrote, “I think it's key to nonfiction writing. It's key to fiction writing. It’s key to writing.”

If you're not excited by the thing you're writing, you’ll never get the reader to be excited about it. And if you truly find the topic thrilling, you can stir up interest in topics kids never thought to wonder about. Editors, agents and published writers often talk about their passion for a project. Passion, excitement, and enthusiasm play a huge part in this business.

For three ways to avoid boring your readers, listen to the full episode. Read more in our show notes: http://writingforchildren.com/050

 

What's the writing question you have but are afraid to ask?

Tell us and we'll answer your writing questions on the podcast. Go to this link and leave your question: http://www.writingforchildren.com/speak.

 

Does your manuscript need a fresh set of eyes?
Submit your manuscript to our critique service and one of our instructors will give you a full critique to make your story the best it can be. Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

 

Apr 28, 2017

FIVE COMMON CHARACTER MOTIVATIONs OF VALUE TO WRITERS

In any story, a character must do something. A character who just bobs along on the current of everyone else's actions and decisions isn’t worthy of being in your story, and definitely isn’t worthy of leading your story.

Even if this character reminds you of someone you know in real life, the needs of a good story will be in direct conflict with a completely passive character. So your characters must do something. And their reason for acting must have clear and believable motivation.

One of Newton's Laws is that an object at rest tends to remain at rest unless acted upon by an outside force. Humans can be a bit that way as well. There are lots of times we’ll laze around unless something motivates us and forces us into action.

This is particularly true when the needed action involves overcoming obstacles (which can be challenging, and scary, and painful. All things we tend to resist). The motivation you provide for your character must be sufficiently strong for readers to believe it would keep this person on this path of action.

Listen to the episode for five common character motivations of value to writers for young readers. Read more in our show notes: http://writingforchildren.com/049

 

What's the writing question you have but are afraid to ask?

Tell us and we'll answer your writing questions on the podcast. Go to this link and leave your question: http://www.writingforchildren.com/speak.

 

Does your manuscript need a fresh set of eyes?
Submit your manuscript to our critique service and one of our instructors will give you a full critique to make your story the best it can be. Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

 

Apr 21, 2017

SOMETIMES, YOU JUST GOTTA RHYME

You constantly hear the advice to write in prose, not rhyme. Why?

You see, there's this interesting phenomena that goes on in our brains. It's like this: most of us simply cannot tell when our rhyming work is terrible.

You see the skills needed to actually write good rhymes also imparts the ability to judge good rhyme. So if we can't write it, we also usually cannot tell that we can't write it. And that's the trap that catches many, many unpublished picture book authors. How exactly does that work? Well, to sell a rhyming picture book, certain things have to happen and all three are essential.

Listen to the episode to hear the three things you need in your rhyming manuscript. Read more in our show notes: http://writingforchildren.com/048

 

You've got questions. We've got answers.

Let us answer your writing questions on the podcast. Go to this link and leave your question: http://www.writingforchildren.com/speak.

 

Polish up your manuscript before you submit. Get a critique from an ICL instructor.
Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

Apr 14, 2017

Interviews with Champions of Children's Literature

Today we celebrate the National Ambassadors for Young People's Literature!

Jon Scieszka is the author of many bestselling children's titles, including The Stinky Cheese Man, which won a Caldecott Honor medal, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, and the Time Warp Trio chapter book series. Jon was the first National Ambassador for Young People's Literature and served from 2008-2009.

Katherine Paterson is the two-time winner of the Newbery Medal (Bridge to Teriabithia and Jacob Have I Loved) and the National Book Award (The Great Gilly Hopkins and The Master Puppeteer). She was also name a a Living Legend by the Library of Congress. Katherine was named the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature for 2010-2011.

Walter Dean Myers has received two Newbery Honor Awards and five Coretta Scott King Awards for books including Sunrise over Fallujah, Fallen Angels, Monster, and Harlem. Walter served as the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature from 2012-2013.

Kate DiCamillo is an award-winning author including winning the Newbery Medal for The Tale of Despereaux in 2003 and Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures in 2014. DiCamillo, the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature for 2014-2015, says about stories, "When we read together, we connect. Together, we see the world. Together, we see each other."

Read more in our show notes: http://writingforchildren.com/047

 

You've got questions. We've got answers.

Let us answer your writing questions on the podcast. Go to this link and leave your question: http://www.writingforchildren.com/speak.

 

Polish up your manuscript before you submit. Get a critique from an ICL instructor.
Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

Apr 7, 2017

ASK YOURSELF

1. Does your story have a clear main character? Short fiction can’t support a rambling assortment of characters vying for the main character job. Omniscient viewpoint nearly never works in short fiction – readers need a main character to relate to, care about, and focus on. The more you dilute the job of main character, the more you dilute the impact of your story.


2. Does your story have a clear problem or conflict facing the main character? The story problem needs to be important, challenging, and emotionally significant. The story problem needs to apply pressure to the main character. It should be clear that the main character could not simply walk away from this problem.


3. Is the story problem solved by the main character? Sometimes a main character cannot solve his own problem. It is simply too big for him. However, the resolution of the story must not be taken completely out of his hands. His efforts must be crucial in bringing about the ending of the story. For example, a child could not carry his hurt father out of the wilderness, but the child’s efforts would have to be key to bringing help to his father. Don’t take the job away from your main character.

For more questions to ask yourself about your short story, listen to the entire episode.

Read more in our show notes: http://writingforchildren.com/046

 

You've got questions. We've got answers.

Let us answer your writing questions on the podcast. Go to this link and leave your question: http://www.writingforchildren.com/speak.

 

Polish up your manuscript before you submit. Get a critique from an ICL instructor.
Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

Mar 31, 2017

WHAT NOT TO DO

Don’t try to give a manuscript to any editor or agent. If they want it, they’ll ask for it. It’s far more likely they will ask you to mail it to them so they don’t have to pack it. But nothing makes a bad impression on an editor or agent quicker than to have you hand them a manuscript. If the editor or agent shows interest in your work, offer a card with a note on the back saying you’re planning to follow up on the interest with a submission. No manuscripts; really.

WHAT NOT TO WEAR

Choose clothes that are comfortable. You’ll be doing two things a lot: sitting and walking. If your shoes pinch, it’ll be a lot harder to be cheerful and friendly, and being hot and sticky is no fun either. You can go funky, fun, or serious, but again, remember you are making an impression, and you can only do that once… for the first time at least.

WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED TO KNOW?

For more no-nos, tips on freebies you can expect, and what to pack, listen to the entire episode.

Read more in our show notes: http://writingforchildren.com/045

 

You've got questions. We've got answers.

Let us answer your writing questions on the podcast. Go to this link and leave your question: http://www.writingforchildren.com/speak.

 

Polish up your manuscript before you submit. Get a critique from an ICL instructor.
Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

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