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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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Now displaying: September, 2016
Sep 30, 2016

BE A GOOD PARTNER!

These tips come from notes taken at a Writer's Retreat several years ago when the wonderful illustrator Brian Lies helped us gain an illustrator's eye view:

* Think about how things look as you write.


Sometimes we writers choose creatures for a story based on how funny they sound to our ear. We might giggle at the idea of an elephant who goes to live with a family of mice––but think for a minute about the job of the illustrator. How big is an elephant? How big is a mouse? How do we make them both fit on a page? Are we saddling the illustrator with choosing between showing the whole elephant (and little dots of mice) or showing the whole mouse (and just the tip of the elephant's trunk or perhaps a toe).

* Consider little things that make illustrations interesting.

It might be interesting to read a story that is a conversation between two kids––but after the first illustration, it's pretty dull to draw it. Keep the characters moving --new actions, new places, and new times of day can go a long way to making the story look good.

Find out how to be a good partner for your illustrator by listening to this episode!

Read more in our show notes plus get a handy guide on word count in today's children's publishing market at http://writingforchildren.com/019

 

Don’t forget to leave your questions!

The faculty of the Institute of Children’s Literature answers the podcast questions. You can leave your question at http://www.writingforchildren.com/speak. If it’s featured on the show, you’ll receive an awesome embroidered ICL all cotton baseball cap

What’s Working in Your Manuscript, What’s Not, and How to Fix It:
Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

Sep 23, 2016

DO YOU SOUND LIKE A KID?

Dialogue is one of the best ways to connect with readers and one of the quickest ways to lose them. Your readers know a fake kid when they listen to one––so your dialogue not only carries plot and characterization burdens, it needs to be real. Let’s look at some tips for “realifying” your dialogue.

Eavesdrop on kids. Libraries are great places to do this because no matter how often they’re shushed, when kids gather, they talk. You can often grab a chair or table near a gathering spot and simply take dictation. Then, when you’re at home, you can analyze what things make kid-speak unique.

Catch Kid TV. Yes, it hurts and it can be didactic and goofy, but bad kid tv will teach you almost as much as good kid tv. You’ll learn to identify young characters who are slipping into overly mature speeches and preaching to the audience––and then you can avoid it in your own characters. Not all kid-speak on tv is good––a lot of it is horrible. Spend time listening and you can begin to identify good and bad.

Find out how by listening to this episode!

Read more in our show notes plus get clickable links at http://writingforchildren.com/018

Don’t forget to leave your questions!

The faculty of the Institute of Children’s Literature answers the podcast questions. You can leave your question at http://www.writingforchildren.com/speak. If it’s featured on the show, you’ll receive an awesome embroidered ICL all cotton baseball cap

What’s Working in Your Manuscript, What’s Not, and How to Fix It:
Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

 

Sep 16, 2016

IS LAUGHTER REALLY THE BEST MEDICINE?

I don't know, but I do suspect that laughter is a great way to get published. If you spend much time listening to acquiring editors or librarians or agents, you'll soon discover that humor is very much something they desire. Kids love books that make them laugh. Humans, in general, appreciate humor, even in the darkest times.

Unrelenting horror or pain is hard to survive, so being able to step outside it, even a little, to laugh can be life-saving. And readers will appreciate a story that allows them to do that. But for an author to find the way to do that takes a little understanding of how humor works.

In Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, the alien character tries to understand laughter and comes to the conclusion that it's about pain and wrongness. In some ways, there is truth there. But, as a writer, I'm looking at humor as a technique and "pain" isn't really a helpful answer for me. So I began to look for what really makes something funny. What is a basic foundation of written humor that I can build on to lighten up my writing?

Find out how by listening to this episode!

Read more in our show notes plus get clickable links at http://writingforchildren.com/017

Don’t forget to leave your questions!

The faculty of the Institute of Children’s Literature answers the podcast questions. You can leave your question at http://www.writingforchildren.com/speak. If it’s featured on the show, you’ll receive an awesome embroidered ICL all cotton baseball cap

What’s Working in Your Manuscript, What’s Not, and How to Fix It:
Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

Sep 9, 2016

NEVER ADD THE ADVERB JUST BECAUSE ‘SAID’ FEELS BORING

Why is Harry Potter full of adverbs? Mostly to make the tag lines feel interesting to the writer. That’s pretty much the same reason adverbs clutter up the tag lines of many examples of beginning writing. Let’s face it, tag lines just feel boring. They aren’t particularly active and they feel redundant…he said, she said, he said, she said. As writers, we hate the idea that anything we write is boring so we look for ways to jazz it  up. And adverbs feel like one way, but without care, adverbs can become a little silly.


“I could eat you up!” he snapped bitingly.


“Get away from me!” he yelled loudly.


One excellent cure for the tagline blahs is to alternate a little narrative action for the tag lines; this gets more movement into the scene, increases our sense of being there, and adds sentence variety. Another cure is to cut tags if the speaker is extremely clear and you want to create a brisker pace. A balance between simple tag lines (using said or asked), the rare unusual tag verb (whispered or bellowed, but never queried or continued, keep it simple enough to add without distracting), narrative action, and simply untagged speech will quickly cure the tag line blahs. Then you can add your adverbs to tag lines only when you know they’re the perfect  word for the job.

“If you need an adverb,” he said decisively. “Then use an adverb!”

When is it okay to use an adverb? Listen to the episode and find out!

Read more in our show notes plus get clickable links at http://writingforchildren.com/016

 

Don’t forget to leave your questions!

The faculty of the Institute of Children’s Literature answers the podcast questions. You can leave your question at http://www.writingforchildren.com/speak. If it’s featured on the show, you’ll receive an awesome embroidered ICL all cotton baseball cap

What’s Working in Your Manuscript, What’s Not, and How to Fix It:
Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

Sep 2, 2016

HOW EVIL ARE ADVERBS?

Have you heard yet that adverbs are evil? Writers often mention their critique groups cutting out all their lovely adverbs. And you can also find writing books vilifying adverbs as an archaic evil creeping into modern prose. So, are adverbs evil? And if so, how do you make sure to kill them all?

WHAT IS AN ADVERB ANYWAY?

When you think of adverbs, you probably picture those –ly lovelies that shore up the dialogue tags:

“You’re not the sharpest knife in the drawer,” she said cuttingly.
“I love pillows,” he said softly.
“I invented the light bulb!” Edison said brightly.

But adverbs can be single words without an –ly also, and they can even be phrases. The key to whether something is an adverb is whether it adds more information to the verb.

She walks fast. [The adverb is "fast"]
Mark throws with precision. [The adverb is “with precision”]
Jack eats often. [The adverb is “often”]

So an adverb serves an informational purpose in a sentence; that’s good, right? So why are writers afraid of them? Sure, J.K.Rowling sprinkles them like spring rain through all of her Harry Potter books, but many editors frown on them. Why is that? Aren’t they a perfectly good part of speech? Don’t they serve a purpose?

Actually adverbs can be a very good thing.

Find out why in this episode.

Read more in our show notes plus get clickable links at http://writingforchildren.com/015

 

Don’t forget to leave your questions!

The faculty of the Institute of Children’s Literature answers the podcast questions. You can leave your question at http://www.writingforchildren.com/speak. If it’s featured on the show, you’ll receive an awesome embroidered ICL all cotton baseball cap

What’s Working in Your Manuscript, What’s Not, and How to Fix It:
Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

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