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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: 2017
Nov 17, 2017

I'M GRATEFUL FOR WRITING

Writing for a living can be scary, frustrating, exhausting, and just plain hard. And things like rejection or lack of support from the people around us can cause us to lose sight of all the wonderful things about writing.

So, since Thanksgiving is a great time for meditating on good things: here are some of the things I'm most grateful for relating to writing.

I'M THANKFUL FOR READERS
Without readers, writing can still be a wonderful pastime. It can help you make sense of the world around you and within you. It can help us work through pain. It can let us relive joy. But all of those things are heightened when you bring readers to the table. Readers make the things we write bigger, because the reader brings thoughts, loves, hates, and beliefs into the reading experience and that means the words I write, or you write, can expand beyond our imagination. And readers give us an opportunity to effect. There are few things I enjoy more than making readers laugh or scare them silly or making them think. Readers rock. I'm so glad to have them.

For more of what I'm thankful for and inspiration to start your own grateful list, list to the full episode.

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.

NEW Expanded Critique Service
We've just expanded the IFW Critique Service! You can now get a full critique of your manuscript whether it's a picture book, middle grade chapter book, YA, Memoir, Fantasy, or Adult Fiction. It's time 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/

Nov 10, 2017

WHEN WRITING JUST ISN'T AN OPTION
It’s the end of the year when it's difficult to find time to write, and nearly impossible to write every day. Sure, some people can manage it. But if you can't, that makes you just like many other writers. The holidays can be stressful, crazy busy, and filled with things that need your attention. So if you can't write for the next few weeks, what should a writer be doing?

Listen to the

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.

NEW Expanded Critique Service
We've just expanded the IFW Critique Service! You can now get a full critique of your manuscript whether it's a picture book, middle grade chapter book, YA, Memoir, Fantasy, or Adult Fiction. It's time 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/

full episode for ways to move your writing forward when just don't have the time to sit down and write.

 

Nov 3, 2017

REWARDS AND CHALLENGES

Long ago, researchers were studying how creatures react to reward. They learned that if you put a "reward station" in a rat's cage and have a treat appear every time the rat pushes a button, the rat will push the button a lot at first, then taper off. Eventually, he'll push the button only when he wants a treat and his desire for the treat seems to lessen over time. But if you have the reward station only produce a treat sometimes, and give nothing the rest of the time, the rat will actually push the button a lot more often and that frequency will never taper off.

The whole model of action/reward is one to consider as a writer, especially a new writer. If you can write things that aren’t necessarily your favorite type of writing to do, you may get more rewards than failures. How? How-to, actually. Say you write a lot of how-to pieces. If you’re able to sell them to magazines, and are having a much harder time selling your fiction, the publication experience with the how-to pieces can give you enough reward to pull you through those dark, rejection blues.

I think this is something that can have value for any writer. If you’re getting the blues about the struggle to publish a picture book or the rough job of finishing a novel, consider taking a small break and doing a piece
 that will give you a treat at that reward station. You could write for a no pay market or write an essay on your writing journey as you've been living it and consider one of the online markets for it. You could offer a guest
 blog post on writing to a writing site. During the tough times, these rewards can be enormously helpful to morale.

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.

NEW Expanded Critique Service
We've just expanded the IFW Critique Service! You can now get a full critique of your manuscript whether it's a picture book, middle grade chapter book, YA, Memoir, Fantasy, or Adult Fiction. It's time 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/

Oct 27, 2017

WHO'S ACCEPTING SUBMISSIONS?

There's is a lot of research that goes into figuring out which publishers and agents to submit to when your manuscript is ready. In this episode, Katie interviews Marni McNiff, the editor of the ICL Market Guides.

The Book Market Guide for Children's Writers and the Magazine Market Guide for Children's Writers comes out each year with updated information and new listings for publishers and agents. Marni and her team have done the legwork to help you find the perfect home for your stories.

Marni gives tips and tricks for using the Market Guides as well as a behind-the-scenes peek at how the guides are put together. If you're going to be ready to go out on submission in the coming year, don't miss this episode.

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.

NEW Expanded Critique Service
We've just expanded the IFW Critique Service! You can now get a full critique of your manuscript whether it's a picture book, middle grade chapter book, YA, Memoir, Fantasy, or Adult Fiction. It's time 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/

Oct 20, 2017

CREATING QUALITY VOICES

A while ago on the Institute's Facebook page, someone was asking about dialogue, which made me think again about this important writing tool. 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?

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.

NEW Expanded Critique Service
We've just expanded the IFW Critique Service! You can now get a full critique of your manuscript whether it's a picture book, middle grade chapter book, YA, Memior, Fantasy, or Adult Fiction. It's time 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/

Oct 13, 2017

CLEANING OUT THE JUNK DRAWER

Personally, I love revising. I love the process of carving really good prose out of potentially questionable prose. For some, revision is more of a necessary evil, and one you must constantly, consciously focus on or else the old "let's make up a new story instead" nature can take over, and you may end up sending things out that really aren't ready. I've critiqued a lot of pieces of students and clients, often after it’s been rejected, and I'd say the number one reason a good piece doesn't get accepted is that it's good, but it's not ready. It could have been great, but the writer stopped at good enough.

Perhaps sometimes "good enough" will get you the contract and get you published. But, if you’re self publishing it'll also tend to get reviews about "uneven pacing" or "rushed endings" or even just reviews with the word "rough" thrown in. Revision is about smooth. It smooths the raw edges where the writer's intent bashes against the writer's speed. Revision fixes continuity errors. It searches for the theme and makes it clearer and cleaner. Revision gets rid of most (though probably not all) typos and grammar errors. Revision makes sure the work is orderly.

In some ways, revision is a bit like cleaning out your junk drawer. To find out how, listen to the full episode.

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/

Oct 6, 2017

FIVE THINGS WORTH SWEATING OVER
There are some mistakes editors see so often that they've become sore spots, things they simply think writers ought to take the time to overcome. Every single one of them is something I've done at one time or another, so I'm not saying these mistakes are deal breakers or will keep you from ever being published, but they are so common that they're worth making their correction part of every single revision. So here are five small things that can make a big impression of the wrong kind if you do them regularly.

1. WHAT’S YOUR NAME?
Make note of your characters' names and how to spell them. It seems an unlikely mistake but I honestly cannot count the number of times I've seen writers forget how they were spelling a character's name (and I've done it myself). A character named Rachel will suddenly become Rachael. A character called Bill through half the story will suddenly be called Will or Billy. A similar mistake to forgetting the character's name, is when we change the character's name but miss a few instances of the old name. So a character will be named Xavier, except when he's being call Phillip (this often happens when the character was originally named Philip and then the writer decided on the more exotic "Xavier" so a quick search and replace changed all the Philip references to Xavier, but unfortunately it left behind all the times the writer accidentally spelled the name with an extra i.)

To learn four other details you should pay attention to in the revision process, listen to the full episode.

 

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 29, 2017

THE PATH TO SOLUTION IS RARELY KIND
Ultimately, the nature of plot is problem. The main character faces something that must be overcome or completed or defeated or endured, and the efforts that main character makes to do just that causes ripples that change the circumstances … and not always for the better. We take our beloved characters and we throw them into deep water, then when they try to get out of it, we drop a rock on them.

In other words, that path to solution is rarely kind.

But eventually, we do need solution. If you don't have solution in a story, the story will feel incomplete. If it just ends just because the time period you set for it is over, then what you have written won't feel complete. If it ends because the story was really just a trip from point A to point B with nothing to overcome, then what you have written won't feel complete. Completion comes with solution.

But if we do throw our character into deep water and then drop a rock on them, how can we possibly get them out of it to bring about the satisfying solution?

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 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/

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