|"If it's a good book, anyone will read it. I'm totally|
unashamed about still reading things I loved in my childhood."
Our New Mexico Regional chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, SCBWI, is fortunate that Chris stays active, currently leading monthly ShopTalk informational meetings, and shares her expertise in many other ways. Treat yourself for a look at www.chriseboch.com and Chris’s Amazon page.
Chris geared the workshop to people in our community who have thought about writing for children and would like to learn how to go about it. And though I’ve published articles for children, a handful of short stories, and have middle grade stories and novels in various stages of completion, I bought her book, You Can Write for Children; her book coupled with the workshop provided me with invaluable nuggets to help me in my work.
Want to Write for Children? Begin at the Beginning . . .
- Think up a Catchy Title: The Genie’s Gift, Chris Eboch
- The Dead Man’s Treasure, Kris Bock
- Whispers in the Dark, Kris Bock
Make the Beginning Dramatic
- Introduce the main character, MC, with a problem and a goal which your character wishes to achieve.
- Grab your reader’s attention with action, dialogue, or a hint of drama to come.
- Set the scene
- Indicate the genre and tone (in fiction)
- Each scene needs to have a goal; MC works toward achieving that goal.
- Start in the middle of something happening.
- Establish the time and place; hint of the “world” in your story early on.
- Immediately establish the type of story: humorous, mystery, adventure . . .
- The beginning reflects what the story is about.
- The plot involves the MC working to solve the problem/reach the goal.
- Builds to a climax—a do or die situation.
- MC must change due to what he or she has learned; something they didn’t expect.
- Theme becomes apparent, though it is not stated. As MC learns the lesson of the story, change comes from this. Trust your readers to discover the theme: example can be that your novel helped your reader to never give up.
- The ending can circle back to the beginning, not that it necessarily has to.
- GMC each chapter:
- Goal: What does your MC want or need?
- Motivation: Why is it important?
- Conflict: Why is it difficult?
Stories that begin with PLOT:
- Come up with a challenge; a difficult situation for someone.
- What kind of person would have the most trouble in that situation?
- The problem must be difficult, as in The Genie’s Gift: A shy girl, not adventurous; has never left the family circle; wants to be strong; needs to learn how to deal with people; in the end, she doesn’t need the Genie’s gift, she found what she needed from her own journey.
Stories that begin with CHARACTER:
- Write a brief character sketch: what your character likes, dislikes, fears, what would challenge them the most.
- Chris’s brother has a fear of heights, but he went on a difficult hike.
- Chris has a fear of suffocating because she has asthma.
- Indiana Jones hates snakes, yet gets dumped into an underground chamber filled with snakes.
- What are you afraid of? Me? Speaking in front of people. Playing the piano in front of people. What are the sensory details that happen to you physically when faced with your fears?
Write this on a Card and Prop it on your Desk
Chris's book, You Can Write for Children, offers a thorough explanation of her approach, much more than she could squeeze into a workshop. I highly recommend it. Here's an example:
- In Chapter 11 on Dialogue and Thoughts, Chris mentions a suggested pattern, from Manuscript Makeover, by Elizabeth Lyon: stimulus (thing happens)--reaction/emotion (physical reaction)--thoughts (thought reaction)--action (what MC does next). This simple pattern has helped me flesh out areas that I found missing in my manuscripts.
My experience is as an elementary teacher, and like so many of us, I fell in love with children’s literature while teaching. I’ve taken courses on writing for children and learned most of what I know from those courses. I found Chris’s approach on helping up-and-coming authors understand how to write for children refreshing and down-to-earth, and very helpful. She is a delight to know, and look out. She will make you fall in love with the spectacular sunsets, azure skies and diversity of people in New Mexico. To quote part of her bio on Amazon: “Her BFA in photography is used mainly to show Facebook friends how lovely the Southwest is.”
Image courtesty of: www.clipart-library.com
|One of my writing buddies|
loves to hear stories
Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 150 articles for adults and children, and several short stories for children. She has recently become editor of the New Mexico SCBWI chapter newsletter and is working on several projects for children. Follow Linda on Facebook.