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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: November, 2016
Nov 25, 2016

SERVING UP TEMPTING TITLES
When it comes to titles, most writers fall into two camps: those who seem to effortless come up with extremely cool titles like “Pistol Packing Paleontologist” (an article by Kelly Milner Halls) and those who struggle and strive to come up with something that doesn’t make an editor nod off in mid read. If you’re in the first group, excellent. If you’re in the second group, there is hope. It’ll take a little more effort but you can learn to whip up some tempting titles with the right recipe.


TITLES ARE NOT LABELS
When you’re labeling things, you choose the most information in the shortest form. The Ziploc bags in your freezer probably
say “hamburger” and “chicken,” not “tempting treat” or “future yum.” The problem with labeling an article or story is that a good label leaves little to the imagination. A good label for the story would tell the most important part and basically spoil the surprise. For example, Very Hungry Caterpillar might be labeled “A Caterpillar Turns into a Butterfly,” and Harry Potter might be labeled “Wizard Boy Saves the Day.” A label gives away the surprise.


You never want to give away the surprise.

To find out how give your title some oomph, listen to this episode.

Read more in our show notes: http://writingforchildren.com/027

 

We want YOUR questions!

The faculty of the Institute of Children’s Literature wants to hear from you. Let us answer your writing questions on the podcast. Go to this link and leave your question: 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/

Nov 18, 2016

Robyn asks:
Can you explain the importance of stressed and unstressed syllables in prose picture books to help guide the rhythm. Can you explain it? (Better than I just did!)


Geraldene asks:
Would today’s fourth grade children be interested in what life was like for kids back in the 1920s and 1930s?


Wendy asks:
How do I handle back matter in a picture book? Is it included it in the word count, should the font be different, and how would I include it––as a separate document or within the story?


Angelique asks:
What are the key differences between writing a story for a magazine and a book? How can we tell if our story is better suited for one or the other?


Kimberley asks:
How do you know when you’ve hit the right audience age range? Do you need to have kids in that age group or just read a lot of books targeted to that age?

Now leave us YOUR questions!

The faculty of the Institute of Children’s Literature are ready to answer your writing questions. 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!

For more information on questions featured in this episode listen to this episode.

Read more in our show notes: http://writingforchildren.com/026

 

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

Nov 11, 2016

CONFLICT FOR ANY AGE
Many times writers have trouble understanding the place of conflict in stories for young children. Either the stories will be devoid of conflict. Or they will be wondrous stories of fighting and near-death experiences. In magazine fiction, the place of conflict tends to land somewhere between these two extremes.

In story terms, conflict occurs when something must be overcome in order to move from our perceived goal to achieving that goal. Our main character’s goal could be want-based (getting a new bike) or need based (finding a way out of a trap.) The difficulty standing in his way tends to increase as the age of the main character increases. In a very young character, the child may only need to do some problem-solving to achieve the goal. For example, in “Zindy Lou and the Dark Place” by Judy Cox (published in Spider) the main character is frightened of the dark bathroom at school. She tries a variety of methods to solve her problem and finally hits on one that works. There is no bad guy, no adult to the rescue, no friends or siblings making fun of her fear––finding a way of coping with the fear is the sole conflict. However, for older readers conflict usually increases. In “Prayers and Other Nonsense” by Kathleen Ahrens (published in Skipping Stones), the main character must talk her mother into leaving their home before a storm destroys it. The need is greater and the conflict is more interpersonal.

For more information on developing conflict in your story, including a story structure template you can use for any fiction manuscript, listen to this episode.

Read more in our show notes: http://writingforchildren.com/025

 

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/

Nov 4, 2016

HOW TO GET YOUR NONFICTION REJECTED
If you’re like most writers, you’ve heard by now that magazines need nonfiction. Actually, magazines are desperate for nonfiction. Magazines never get enough nonfiction. So, many writers smile and settle down to write an article. How tough can it be, after all, these are just kids? Well, tough enough that many of those writers collect rejection letters. How did that happen? Are editors hot for nonfiction or aren’t they? Well, it depends.

WHERE’S YOUR BIBLIOGRAPHY?

Children’s magazine editors are just as picky about sources as any other editors. They want to know that your information is current, unique, and accurate. Most writers can only be as good as their sources. An article on penguins cobbled together from watching a Discovery program and touring a few websites is not going to impress an editor. Television documentaries are notoriously inaccurate (after all, they need drama – lots of drama) and websites often pass misinformation from one site to another.

Nonfiction requires good research and good research requires work.

Listen to the full episode for four steps to avoiding getting a rejection!

Read more in our show notes: http://writingforchildren.com/024

 

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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