Showing posts with label Helping Writers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Helping Writers. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Writing for Young Children with Ronda Eden

Although I mainly illustrate, I find it easy to write for young children. I was an Early Childhood Elementary Teacher for many years and know what young children tend to respond to. There needs to be rhythm and repetition and it should be kept short and bold. Like a staff meeting!

It doesn’t necessarily have to be simple, but if it’s not, it should have some redeeming qualities such as sheer silliness. For example...Dr Seuss! Kids love things that are a little TABOO! Gross things like snot and poo work really well!

Having said that, we need to be aware that most of the time, we are not only writing for kids. It needs to clear customs first! Editors are seldom children, but more like security guards placed strategically to protect children from writers and illustrators that may lead them down the wrong path. Lucky for writer/illustrators like yours truly, ‘snot’ and ‘poo’ just scrape in these days as we all know there is so much worse out there for them to be protected from.

Choosing words carefully is very important. I believe the sound of the word is more important than the meaning. If the words sound inviting the child will seek out its meaning and use the word themselves repetitively in the process of gaining more knowledge.

Tips to Remember When Writing:

    Rhythm
    Repetition
    Keep it short
    Have fun and add some silliness
    Choose words carefully and make every one of them count
    Make the writing inviting to your reader/Hook

Here is a piece I wrote a couple of years ago. I put myself into the mood of a kid about 8-10 years old and wrote this as a synopsis for a story along the same lines.

Mutants in the Fridge

By: Ronda Eden

There’s mutants in the fridge and I don’t know what to do
Slimy bits of watermelon and all this yucky goo
Something green and furry, something all gone black
Some chips all dried and shriveled and what looks like a Big Mac!
No one likes to clean the fridge they’d rather let it be
They’re scared to take the lids off things
They’re scared of what they’ll see
The meat’s gone green and slimy and it’s really on the nose
The cheese has grown an overcoat and all the spuds have toes!
The veggies are quite clever; they take care of themselves
They turn themselves to liquid and move to other shelves
And if they’re left there long enough, they head toward the door
Then when you open up the fridge, they ooze onto the floor
Each day they’re growing bigger and changing shape and color
Some are getting brighter and some are getting duller
One day they might turn into, huge gigantic toads
And just keep getting bigger until the fridge explodes!
Whoa!
Then what a job will that be, to clean up that big mess
We’ll have to think of something
We’ll have to move I guess
Just thinking of this makes me tried
And makes me hungry too
But there mutants in the fridge and I don’t know what to do.

Ronda Eden’s been a teacher, storyteller, writer, touring art curator, gallery owner, horse trainer and artist A.O.T. (Among Other Things). Ronda’s hobbies include the joy of  hiking, climbing, wind surfing, belly dancing, jogging, traveling, swimming, daydreaming, listening to music and of course, horse riding. Ronda loves it right where she is, doing exactly what she is doing. Ronda manages to be an artist A.O.T (Among Other Things) in between feeding, riding and shoveling poop, but her horses come first. 

Steve Cormey has entertained the people of Grand County and Colorado for over thirty years. An award winning songwriter, he has written, produced and released six very successful CDs while playing an always full schedule of live performances. His background in Folk ,bluegrass, rock and traditional music is evident whether live or on CD. Colorado Blue, Somewhere with a Beach, Never Summer..forever home, Walking Stick and the all solo-acoustic Pure & Simple CDs offer a potpourri of musical styles, and his Old Fashioned Christmas is a Yule Tide favorite. Steve’s live performances show off a talented mix of danceable music, humor and fun!

MORE ON WRITING

The Writing Elements Mix – Is There a Right Balance?

10 Reasons to Start Writing Right Now

3 Things You Can Do Right Now to Be More Creative



Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Building Scenes with Renee Hand

Renee Hand is an award-winning author, educator, tennis coach and various other things. Hand has been writing for over twenty years and has six publications. She also writes for various chronicles and newsletters, as well as reviews for various authors of children´s books on her blog, http://thecryptocapersseries.blogspot.com.

Renee Hand's love for reading and writing started when she was a child. Renee always had a passion for it and remembers frequently wearing out the stone steps to the local library. When in a bookstore, she would sit in the middle of an aisle perusing a novel that she was eagerly going to purchase, but couldn’t wait to read. Often, when Renee has extra time, she will write stories that pop into her head...locking herself in her room for hours. Now that Renee is older, her love for reading and writing has not diminished. In fact, it has only become a bigger part of her. It is because of this that Renee chose to share her interests with other readers who love books as much as she does.

Building Scenes
I build scenes for all my books in similar ways— yet differently. My Crypto-Capers Series is more in depth, with much more history and suspense for the older readers, so I develop the scenes differently, keeping the readers interest well throughout the book to the very end, adding in more detail. Characters are more dynamic, problems more complicated, with various scenes, and so on. 

But for my Joe-Joe Nut series, because the audience is younger, I make things just as interesting and suspenseful, but much simpler. My chapters/scenes are separated by suspects, making it easier for the reader or teacher to stop and make predictions about what is going to happen next, or to discuss what has already happened.   

The beginning, of course, sets the stage for what the story is about, relaying the problem of the story to the reader. When I create a scene, I think about where I want the characters to go and what sends them there, or what I need them to do, or in this case—collect. 

In Mineral Mischief, someone steals Maple Moo’s rare mineral. All of the suspects collect a specific type of rock and mineral, plus they were all over at Maple Moo’s house before the crime was committed. It is Joe-Joe and Biscuits turn from there to talk to each suspect to determine who committed the crime and discover why they did it. Looking for clues, analyzing evidence, and so on.   

I throw in some misleads here and there. At the end, of course, the problem is solved, but never the way you think it might be. I like to throw a wrench in there to make things more exciting for my readers. All and all, though not entirely, this is how I build my scenes.

Stories for Children Publishing will be touring Renee Hand’s latest children’s book, “The Adventures of Joe-Joe Nut and Biscuit Bill Case #2 Mineral Mischief” all month long in April 2011. 

In Case #2 Mineral Mischief, Joe-Joe Nut and Biscuit Bill find themselves in a dark and dreary cave, and in front of them, sitting on an ornately carved stone pedestal, was Maple’s mineral. To reach out and take it would be so easy. It glistened like stars in a midnight sky, attracting their attention, luring them. However, there had to be a catch somewhere. Something didn’t feel right. Then he saw it. 




Friday, March 11, 2011

What Makes a Good Children’s Book?


What Makes a Good Children’s Book?
By Sherry Ellis

There are many factors that go into the making of a good children’s book.

The first is the story itself.  It must have a plot that appeals to the age of the child it is written for.  It has to be something a child can understand.  It has to be told in such a way that the child falls in love with it.  The best stories are ones that are timeless; where the plot is something that could appeal to a child fifty years from now.

Illustrations are another important factor in the making of a good children’s book.  Brightly-colored illustrations really grab a child’s attention.  The illustrations should accurately portray what is going on in the story.  Really well-done illustrations may even tell a story of their own.  Kids should want to sit down with a book and pour over the pictures.

A book’s cover should be attractive.  There’s an old mantra, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” but the truth is, we do judge a book by its cover.  If the cover looks appealing, we are more likely to want to read what’s inside.  The same holds true with children’s books.  Children are naturally attracted to books with interesting covers. 

Finally, there’s the language itself.  Descriptive words are important in painting a picture of what’s going on in the story.  Care must be taken to use words that can be understood by the age of the children the story is written for.

Good children’s book writers have the ability to view the world through the eyes of a child.  They are able to remember the feelings and emotions they had as a child.  All of these factors put together help an author create a book that is not only enchanting to children, but also to the adults who read it. 


About Sherry Ellis: Sherry Ellis is a freelance writer who writes articles for parenting magazines and children’s publications.  Her first book, That Baby Woke Me Up, AGAIN, was published in 2005.  Her second, That Mama is a Grouch, was published in May of 2010.  It was honored as a finalist in the Parenting/Family category of the 2010 USA Book News Awards. 

Sherry is also a professional musician who plays and teaches violin, viola, and piano.  Ms. Ellis lives in Loveland, Ohio with her husband and two children.

Author Website: www.sherryellis.org

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Editing—It Makes All the Difference

By Cheryl C. Malandrinos

As a reviewer, I’ve had the opportunity to read hundreds of books in a variety of genres. While not every book has been my favorite, what leaves me feeling most disappointed is when I think to myself, “This could have been a great book…if only it had been edited more thoroughly.”

I once read a series of children’s books. I enjoyed the message and loved the characters, but the sheer number of typographical errors took away from the reading experience and became distracting. 

There was a mystery novel written by a famous author. It was an excellent read, but do you know what I remember most about it? In one chapter, the bad guys had kidnapped the hero and taken his belt. In the following chapter, the hero used the belt—the one he no longer had—as a tool to assist in his escape.

In another book, the main character’s mother’s name changed several times and one of the character’s cars was green early in the book but silver later on.
Now, I’ll admit, I’m not as good at editing my own work as I am at spotting errors in the work of others, but the editing phase of completing a manuscript can’t be rushed. In addition, a critique group, and a third party editor are going to catch errors and inconsistencies you’re going to miss.

After sending a manuscript to my critique group, I review the feedback and make the changes I feel are necessary. Then I let the manuscript sit for at least a week. I go back and perform three rounds of edits: one to pick up typos, one to focus on grammar, and the last to check for inconsistencies. Then it goes back to my critique group. 

I didn’t hire a third party editor for my first children’s picture book, Little Shepherd. The publisher and I went through it, and it had been looked over by my critique group numerous times. When I complete Amelia’s Mission, however, which is a middle grade historical, I will definitely send it off to an objective set of eyes to help me polish it before I submit it to a publisher. 

I once spoke with a woman who had been in the entertainment industry for decades. She had written a book about her father, an award-winning composer.  She had a difficult time finding a publisher. She said that breaking into the publishing world was more of a challenge than catching a break in entertainment. 

In such a market, taking the time to edit your book thoroughly will make a huge difference. Proper editing can turn a good book into a great one.


About the author: Cheryl Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. A founding member of Musing Our Children, Ms. Malandrinos is also Editor in Chief of the group’s quarterly newsletter, Pages & Pens.   


Growing Your Writing Practice

By Deborah Lyn Stanley We’ve been writing and developed certain habits. Maybe this is a good time to improve our practice, or even call it o...