Friday, June 8, 2018

Writing with Focus


You have a wonderful idea for a story.

Maybe it’s a mystery novel, a children’s middle grade story, or a picture book. Maybe it’s a young adult. You know what you want to say. You know what you want the reader to ‘see.’ You start typing away.

This is the beginning of every story.

But, we should backtrack a moment and go back to the idea.

The idea: your protagonist has a problem or conflict. Delving a little deeper, you can see how each chapter or section will be worked out.

You are sure you can bring your idea to full fruition—without the use of an outline. Okay, that’s fine. Many writers use the by-the-seat-of-your-pants (pantser) writing method.

So, off your mind and fingers fly . . . creating something from nothing . . . well, not exactly from nothing, from an idea.

You type a draft of your story. How long this process will take depends on how long your manuscript will be—whether a novel, short story, or children’s story. It also depends on your writing schedule and/or if you encounter any road blocks.

Take note though . . . even if your story is as short as a children’s picture book, you will need focus in your writing.

Writing Focus

Focus is the path from point A to point B. It’s the path from beginning to end that keeps the story together and wraps it neatly up.

An example might be an ice skater whose goal is to become good enough to get into the Olympics. His focus will be to train vigorously to accomplish his goal. Barring any injuries or other sidetracking, he's focused on and moves toward that end goal.

A better example might be that of a school bus on its route to pick up children and bring them to school.

The bus depot or shop is where the bus begins - this is point A.

It will end up at the school, point B.

But, between point A and point B, the bus must deviate from a direct path in order to pick up each child. If the bus doesn’t keep on schedule, if it doesn’t keep focused, if it deviates too much from its intended path, it will get the children to school late.

The same holds true for your story.

There is a path the story needs to follow to accomplish its goal. If you deviate too much from this path your story will become diluted or weak.

This is not to say you can't have subplots, it means everything needs to be tied together moving forward on the same path toward the same end.

Using an outline can often help with maintaining focus, even with a short story.

It’s kind of a writing GPS that guides you from point A to point B. It allows you to stray here and there with the comfort of knowing that you need to be at certain points throughout the manuscript. It’s a reminder to help keep you focused.


Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author. She runs a successful children’s ghostwriting and rewriting business and welcomes working with new clients.

For tips on writing for children OR if you need help with your project, contact her at Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi.

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1 comment:

  1. Hi Karen, Focus has been one of my biggest challenges. Thank you for an important post to help me stay on track.

    ReplyDelete

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