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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
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!

Aug 31, 2018

Nesting usually involves the spot where you find immediate (or first) success, but there will always be walls around you if you give in to staying in your first nest. You'll grow until you fill up that specific nesting spot and no more, not unless you're willing to peek out of your particular niche and considering dashing into a spot you know nothing whatsoever about. Growth, change, learning, and challenge makes us better writers. Nesting holds us at whatever spot we've grown accustom.

Let's talk about getting out of our nests today and finding success in new writing areas.

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

Aug 24, 2018

WHERE SHOULD YOU SPEND YOUR DOLLARS?

Last week we talked about classes, conferences, and critiques and self-publishing. Let’s get going with Part 2 with…agents and submission services and promotion services.

There are a lot of "services" that have grown up around writing. Some, like agents, are vital to working in specific areas of publishing. Some are simply good ways to extract the cash from your wallet. Let's look at agents.

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

Aug 17, 2018

WHERE SHOULD YOUR MONEY GO?

Whenever you have a large group of people with a dream and a desperation to fulfill it, you're also going to see people quick to take advantage of that. Helpful writers (many of whom began their careers a while ago) say helpful things like, "The only place you should sign on a check is on the back" and "money flows toward the writer." And those truisms can be useful as long as you use them to make you pause and consider, rather than letting them slam the brakes on your choices. Let's consider, what kinds of things might a writer spend money on? Let's talk about it.

START WRITING YOUR BOOK. Learn how to write publishable manuscripts with your own one-on-one mentor, an experienced professional author. To see if you qualify, go to writingforchildren.com/iamready

Aug 10, 2018

YOUR FIRST STEP TO FANTASTIC WRITING

"Wait ... what do you mean I'm not done?!"

It's a common refrain among new writers as they realize their first draft is only the beginning. In truth, revision is the step that takes your writing from so-so to sold.

So, revision is a necessary part of the writing process, but how do you go about doing it?

Different techniques work better for different stories and different authors. With the help of IFW contributor Rita Reali, we dig into a few examples.

 

START WRITING YOUR BOOK. Learn how to write publishable manuscripts with your own one-on-one mentor, an experienced professional author. To see if you qualify, go to writingforchildren.com/iamready

Aug 3, 2018

THE KEY TO REVISION

As most writers know, it's much easier to find the flaws in someone else's work than to find the flaws in your own. Part of the reason for this is distance. When you're reading work by another author, you aren't caught up in all the personal things that went into the creation of the story. You are actually judging the story based on the merits of what you read on the page. So to be able to revise your own work successfully, you need to get the same kind of distance that you have when you're reading someone else's work. That's not always easy, but there are some tips that can help.

START WRITING YOUR BOOK. Learn how to write publishable manuscripts with your own one-on-one mentor, an experienced professional author. To see if you qualify, go to writingforchildren.com/iamready

Jul 27, 2018

CREATING A REVISION PLAN

Some writers love revision. In fact, for many, the rough draft is something to be rushed through to get to the real "fun," the revision. Some writers don't like the revision part at all, but they know it's necessary if their book has a chance of getting a contract. Our contributor Jan Fields is one of those writers. Jan admits revision might be something she would skimp on if she didn't enter into revision with a plan. Here's how to create your own plan.

START WRITING YOUR BOOK. Learn how to write publishable manuscripts with your own one-on-one mentor, an experienced professional author. To see if you qualify, go to writingforchildren.com/iamready

Jul 13, 2018

HOW GOOD IS YOUR TITLE?

Sometimes I find great fodder to share in the ICL archives. I loved this one, inspired by an article by Veda Boyd Jones. Have you ever played The Landlord’s Game? Come on. I bet you have. You know, the game that was created in the Depression? Oh, wait. That was the original title given to the game…it uses real estate as the theme. Does… Monopoly sound familiar? The Landlord’s Game was renamed Monopoly, and history was made.

Often, working titles can generally be dull and simply name the topic. Before you submit, you need to give them the zap that will make the reader pull a book off a bookstore shelf. And although editors often change the titles of an article, story, or book, as a writer you want the first reader––which could be an editor––to find your title engaging. The best way to learn how to title a piece is to study successful titles.

Join the Writers' Block! Looking for writers who "get" what you're going through? Need a little push to get yourself writing and submitting? Looking for a little feedback on your manuscript? Go to writingforchildren.com/writersblock

Jul 6, 2018

GUEST EXPERT DEBORAH HEILIGMAN

Deborah Heiligman is the author of 31 books for children and teens. Her most recent book is Vincent And Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers. It has received six starred reviews and has won the Boston Globe Horn Book Award for Nonfiction as well as the YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award and a Printz Honor Award at the 2018 ALA Youth Media Awards. Her other recent books include: The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life Of Paul Erdos and Snow Dog, Go Dog. Charles And Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith was a National Book Award Finalist, A Printz Honor, the YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction winner, and a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize.

We discuss:
- What to do if you receive edits from an editor/agent/critique partner you don’t agree with.
- How to eliminate dates or places or details/facts that get in the way of story if you feel like the reader should know that stuff?
- Not writing “on the nose.”
- AND MORE!

START WRITING YOUR BOOK. Learn how to write publishable manuscripts with your own one-on-one mentor, an experienced professional author. To see if you qualify, go to writingforchildren.com/iamready

Jun 29, 2018

HOW TO WRITE AN INTERVIEW

Last week, we talked about how to conduct an interview—what to do beforehand, how to act during the interview, and what to do afterward and how to follow-up with your subject. This week we go one step further —how to write the article.

Plus, we touch on how to pick the perfect subject for your article.

START WRITING YOUR BOOK. Learn how to write publishable manuscripts with your own one-on-one mentor, an experienced professional author. To see if you qualify, go to writingforchildren.com/iamready

Jun 22, 2018

HOW TO CONDUCT AN INTERVIEW

One way to break into nonfiction is with a profile piece. What better way to learn more about a subject than to interview them directly? In this episode, we cover how to conduct an interview professionally including how to prepare, what to do during the interview, and how to follow-up afterward.

START WRITING YOUR BOOK. Learn how to write publishable manuscripts with your own one-on-one mentor, an experienced professional author. To see if you qualify, go to writingforchildren.com/iamready

Jun 15, 2018

NONFICTION ARTICLES YOU CAN WRITE, PART 2

Last week, we talked about how many magazines are looking for nonfiction articles. We covered four types of nonfiction articles including the how-to, the fact piece, sports, and the arts. This week we offer up five more nonfiction topics for magazine articles, including biography, profiles, self-help, history, and personal experience.

Remember you also want to check a magazine’s website, previous issues, and even a market guide like the one in our bookstore so you can direct your articles to the publishers most likely
to buy them.

START WRITING YOUR BOOK. Learn how to write publishable manuscripts with your own one-on-one mentor, an experienced professional author. To see if you qualify, go to writingforchildren.com/iamready

Jun 8, 2018

NONFICTION ARTICLES YOU CAN WRITE, PART 1

Magazine articles can be a great way to get your foot in the door in the publishing industry while giving you professional credits for your query letters. And, since most magazines pay, it can be a nice opportunity to supplement your income. Magazines are commonly looking for nonfiction articles. The categories of nonfiction are not hard-and-fast classifications, since a given article may contain elements of several types. Over the next two episodes we’ll give you a rough breakdown of article categories according to market terminology. We’ll describe the main features of each type and give you some tips on how to make the most of your material for an editor’s eye.

This week we talk about writing nonfiction articles with these themes: how-tos, fact pieces, sports, and the arts

START WRITING YOUR BOOK. Learn how to write publishable manuscripts with your own one-on-one mentor, an experienced professional author. To see if you qualify, go to writingforchildren.com/iamready

Jun 1, 2018

AN INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR CHRISTINE TAYLOR-BUTLER

Christine Taylor-Butler is the author of over 75 books for kids. Before writing for kids, Christine earned two degrees from MIT and worked for the likes of Harvard University and Hallmark Cards. She has contributed to numerous nonfiction series for Scholastic writing about planets, states, our founding fathers, how our government works, and more. Her YA series Lost Tribes is now available.

WE DISCUSS…
• Best practices for research
• How to research
• Traveling for research
• Organizational issues
• Confirming veracity when doing nonfiction research
• Researching for fiction…and more!

START WRITING YOUR BOOK. Learn how to write publishable manuscripts with your own one-on-one mentor, an experienced professional author. To see if you qualify, go to writingforchildren.com/iamready

May 26, 2018

ANSWERS TO YOUR BURNING QUESTIONS

It's a whole episode of your listener questions! Editor and Publisher Eileen Robinson is back answering your questions and giving it to you straight. We discuss:

  • How many and what kinds of errors are okay in a submitted manuscript?
  • Does punctuation really matter?
  • How long should an ending be?
  • What makes for an interesting/well-developed character?
  • What makes a character unlikable?
  • How do you create an unreliable narrator?
  • How does dialogue shape character?
  • In picture books, how do you shape a character in just 32 pages?

START WRITING YOUR BOOK. Learn how to write publishable manuscripts with your own one-on-one mentor, an experienced professional author. To see if you qualify, go to writingforchildren.com/iamready

May 18, 2018

WE CELEBRATE WITH OUR MOST POPULAR EPISODES

To celebrate our 100th episode, we’ve edited together
some of our most popular episodes, all in one easy-to-listen to package:

002-Three Keys to Writing Nonfiction for Children
004-Don't Tell Us a Story
005-Picture-Books-101
032-How Submissions Work

START WRITING YOUR BOOK. Learn how to write publishable manuscripts with your own one-on-one mentor, an experienced professional author. To see if you qualify, go to writingforchildren.com/iamready

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