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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: February, 2017
Feb 24, 2017

GROWNUPS SHOULD BE SEEN AND NOT HEARD
A surprising number of writers really struggle to separate themselves from the adult characters in children’s stories. This is especially true for newer writers with stories for very young children. Few of us have very clear memories of our preschool years, but we have excellent memories of the preschool years of our children. And in all of those memories, we are the parent. Obviously. We are not the child. So when we write from those memories, it can be easy to slip into the adult viewpoint.

Unruly adults are the result. Unruly adults talk too much. Unruly adults step in and solve the story problem–either directly or through wise direction. Unruly adults push the main character into a passive role in the story.

Listen to three possible unruly adult stories and why they don't work in this episode.

Read more in our show notes: http://writingforchildren.com/040

 

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.

 

Does your manuscript need a fresh pair of eyes? Get a critique from an ICL instructor.
Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

 

Feb 17, 2017

A CALL TO ADVENTURE

Increasingly editors are interested in two things in fiction (1) adventure and (2) something a boy might read. But many writers are stuck when it comes to thinking about adventure. What makes up an adventure and can you do it well in 2,000 words or less (sometimes a lot less). Sure you can. After all, Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are is a perfect adventure story in 336 words.

The adventure story is the basis for so many classic myths and legends–so much so that “The Hero’s Journey” has become almost a guidebook for adventure. So how could the circular structure of the basic “Hero’s Journey” help us craft a magazine adventure story? Let’s begin by looking at a simplified version of the Hero’s Journey structure, keeping in mind that for magazine fiction, the story must focus on the main character:

Ordinary World
–Stories begin just before the thing that ultimately changes the main character.

Call to Adventure
–A need arises, the main character has a challenge.

Refusal/Commitment–the main character resists the challenge, doesn’t want to undertake the task but ultimately accepts that the challenge cannot be avoided.

Approaching the First Ordeal–The main character begins to understand the size of the challenge and the stakes are raised.

Ordeal–main character faces a serious challenge and overcomes.

Reward–a time of rest for the main character, sometimes a false sense of completion.

The Road/Resurrection–more complications, when things look much worse than expected and the biggest challenge met.

Mastery–The adventure resolves, often a sense of coming full circle. The main character has changed.

Read more in our show notes: http://writingforchildren.com/039

 

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.

 

Does your manuscript need a fresh pair of eyes? Get a critique from an ICL instructor.
Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

 

Feb 10, 2017

TWO-LAYERED WRITING

Sometimes we can borrow something from another art form and smuggle it over to children’s writing to be used in a slightly different way. One example of this is the “log line.” A log line in Hollywood scriptwriting terms is a kind of one-sentence summation of your script, preferably making it sound almost unbearably exciting. A log line sums up both the script's objective and subjective story. The objective story was basically what happened on the screen: A meets B and experiences the kind of instant loathing that is sure to result in true romance. The subjective story is basically what the story is about–in human terms: perhaps something like “strong emotion is the root of romance.” A good log line merges the two halves into one sentence to describe a script or film.

Cool, huh? What does it say about children’s writing? It is the nature of art–whether children’s writing, adult writing, painting, film, sculpture–that most forms have a dual nature. They have some kind of representation of reality married to what it means. In children’s writing we tend to think of that as “story” married to “lesson”–because we think of children in terms of instruction and training. Purists balk at the idea of “lesson” and insist they should just entertain. However, much of what is entertaining in adult art contains that element of “lesson”–if you take lesson and translate it to theme.

 

Read more in our show notes: http://writingforchildren.com/038

 

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.

 

Does your manuscript need a fresh pair of eyes? Get a critique from an ICL instructor.
Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

Feb 3, 2017

A PRIMER ON POINT OF VIEW


The designations for Point of View are dependent upon how the main character is presented. In first person, the book is told directly by the main character, such as Barbara Park does in the Junie B. Jones books: “My name is Junie B. Jones. The B stands for Beatrice, except I don’t like Beatrice. I just like B and that’s all.” First person point of view offers an up-close connection with your main character but can result in too much “telling” instead of “showing.” Also, first person point of view can create difficulties in introducing physical description of the main character. Try to avoid the “look into a mirror” method of description since most editors consider that method clichéd.


Many character driven stories: the Amber Brown series and the Junie B. Jones series, for example, rely upon first person to clearly present the nuances of the main character. Many first person novels also include humor based on the main character’s unusual perceptions of people and events.

For best uses of second and third person point of views, listen to the full episode.

Read more in our show notes: http://writingforchildren.com/037

 

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.

 

Does your manuscript need a fresh pair of eyes? Get a critique from an ICL instructor.
Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

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