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Where Should Your Money Go? Part 1 | Writing for Children 112

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...


Revision | Writing for Children 111

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...


Distance: The Key to Revision | Writing for Children 110

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...


Revise Your View of Revision | Writing for Children 109

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...


How Good is Your Title? | Writing for Children 108

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...


Interview with Deborah Heligman | Writing for Children 107

GUEST EXPERT DEBORAH HELIGMAN Deborah Heligman 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 is the winner of the Boston Globe Horn Book Award for Nonfiction. 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...


How to Write an Interview | Writing for Children 106

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,...


How to Conduct an Interview | Writing for Children 105

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...


Nonfiction Articles You Can Write Part 1 | Writing for Children 103

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...


Nonfiction Articles You Can Write Part 1 | Writing for Children 103

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...


Nonfiction Expert Christine Taylor-Butler | Writing for Children

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...


Listener Q & A | Writing for Children 101

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...


We Celebrate | Writing for Children 100

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...


Talking Character Development with Eileen Robinson | Writing for Children 099

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT In this episode, Katie interviews Editor and Publisher Eileen Robinson. Editor/Publisher Eileen Robinson loves the power of stories and helping authors revise. She feels once the draft is done, the revision process is where an author’s skill, inventiveness, and individuality begins to shine through. She has worked in children’s publishing as an editor for over 20 years, in-house and independently at both Scholastic and Harcourt — in educational publishing, school and...


How to Win a Contest | Writing for Children 098

4 TIPS TO TAKE YOU TO THE WINNERS' CIRCLE If you want to know how to win a writing contest, take it from someone who has judged a lot of writing contests. Here are four things that will almost automatically get you past the first few rounds of judging. They seem like simple things, but it is amazing how many folks don't do them. 1. DON'T ENTER SOMETHING THAT DOESN'T FIT THE CONTEST Honestly. You just cannot win if it doesn't fit the contest parameters. If it's a picture book contest...


How to Build a Good Mystery Part 2 | Writing for Children 097

DECIDE THE TURNING POINT A good mystery becomes clear and is solved only when the main character employs a new way of looking at the problem or discovers his own pre-existing weaknesses that have been pushing him in the wrong direction. For most mysteries, solutions come by some kind of change—a change in how we look at the problem, or a change in the main character's beliefs. Listen to the full episode for examples on how to make this work and don't miss part 1 in episode 096. What's...


How to Build a Good Mystery Part 1 | Writing for Children 096

TO BUILD A GOOD MYSTERY JUST ASK THE RIGHT QUESTION This episode is based on a post from Jan Fields, a ICL regular contributor. The experiences I refer to are hers, not mine. At this point, Jan has sold well over two dozen mystery novels for adults and has written and sold mysteries for children, both as short stories and chapter books. In fact, many of her adventure stories have a strong mystery structure along with the adventure. This is because mysteries are puzzling and kids love...


Why Entering Contests Helps YOU | Writing for Children 095

INTERVIEW WITH A CONTEST JUDGE In this episode I interview frequent ICL contest judge and longtime instructor Nancy Coffelt. As well as being a multi-published picture book author and illustrator, Nancy is a fine artist and has been showing in galleries across the country since 1984. Her work is included in personal, public and corporate collections around the world. She works in both 2D and 3D, primarily in oil pastel and in paper mosaic. Animals are her main subject matter and Nancy...


Basic Story Elements | Writing for Children 094

CHARACTER, SETTING, AND THEME Today, we’re going to discuss three basic story elements: characters, setting, and theme. Characters, of course, are the lifeblood of fiction, whether they be human or animal. Setting denotes a story’s time and place (sometimes including its weather). There’s the point of the story—its main idea or theme. Listen to the full episode as we go more in-depth with each of these and how to use each element in the appropriate way for the type of story you are...


What is Story Form? | Writing for Children 093

UNDERSTANDING THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF STORY STRUCTURE Inspired by our course, Writing for Children and Teens, we discuss: • A story beginning establishes a main character and a basic situation. • The middle develops a problem or difficulty and builds to a climax, which is then resolved. • The ending concludes the story’s events. • This structure applies equally to a two-page tale for small children and to a 400-page adult novel. • The story problem may not take the form of an urgent...