Showing posts with label Where to find ideas; where to begin writing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Where to find ideas; where to begin writing. Show all posts

Writers: Need Ideas? Discover Your Passion

By Linda Wilson  @LinWilsonauthor

Studying the market for your genre and age group is truly the best way to see what books readers clamor for and what publishers are buying. First and foremost is to read many books—I’ve known authors who've read 100 or more in their genre—similar to the one you want to write. Publications such as Writer’s Market, and SCBWI’s The Essential Guide to Publishing 2022, which is available to members as a downloadable PDF or printed copy, are also musts in helping you decide which one of your ideas is the best one to pursue. Also, publication guides such as the two mentioned are jam-packed with how-to’s on how to get published.

Essential for me was joining The Society of Book Writers and Illustrators, SCBWI, a world-wide organization that offers essential information for children’s authors and illustrators. Look up the national SCBWI website for a chapter near you; go to meetings, conferences and retreats, and find a critique group. After some time in your pursuit, you will find that you know enough to write/illustrate your heart’s desire and offer it for publication.

Most Important: Look to your own Passion

Perhaps the most important resource is your own life. What are you passionate about? What do you care enough about to spend the time and effort it takes to write about it in a story, article, or book? It took me some time to discover my passion. I needed to dig deep. When I made my start, I truly didn’t know what to write about. I was told that nonfiction is easier to sell than fiction, which I believe is still true today. So, I began by writing articles. 

I bought and borrowed how-to books, chose a few subjects, interviewed people involved in various projects, wrote articles about them, and searched for publications that would accept my submissions, both newspapers and magazines. In essence, it’s how I taught myself how to write. Later, I decided to try my hand at fiction and began writing short stories for children’s magazines; and finally I went on to write fiction books for young children. Here is how I discovered the passion to write and publish my first book.

Secret in the Stars: An Abi Wunder Mystery, Illustrated by Tiffany Tutti

Due to my husband’s job, our family moved to several places throughout the U.S.: Centerville, Ohio; Westford, Mass.; Oakton, Virginia; Purcellville, Virginia; and finally, Albuquerque, New Mexico, where I live now. I loved each town and state and have fond memories of them all. But the place I loved the most was Purcellville, Virginia.

Purcellville is located approximately 40 miles from Washington, DC, in western Loudoun County. Picture white picket fences surrounding pastures where horses graze, narrow country roads, green rolling hills, quaint towns filled with country charm. Purcellville is near Middleburg, Virginia, where the Kennedy family purchased land and Jackie stabled and rode her horses. 

After we left Purcellville, I couldn’t stop thinking about our beautiful neighborhood there. The rich, green hills. People riding horses on the roads. The marsh across the road from our house, alive with creatures cricking, croaking, buzzing, and chirping day and night. I particularly loved the lullaby of the tree frogs on evenings in the spring when the temperature was just right.

After settling in New Mexico, I looked back at my time in Purcellville. My neighborhood became the book's setting. As I wrote, my inner life continued to develop, and I came to know that what mattered most to me was to encourage children to explore the great outdoors. Today the great outdoors is the theme in all my books. It is the title on my social media banners above the display of pictures of my book covers: “Stories that Explore the Great Outdoors.”

My characters were based on traits I admired in some of my favorite people. In Secret in the Stars, Abi, the main character, starts out to be artistic but not athletic. Her friend Jess, on the other hand, loves to swim, ride horses, and hike. Throughout the story Abi strives to be athletic, too. And in Book 2, Secret in the Mist, scheduled to publish next year, Jess acquires a taste for art from watching Abi draw the world around her in her sketchbook.

Writing Secret in the Stars turned out to be an experience of self-discovery. In later book projects, I developed more ideas of things I truly care about, such as: a packrat who is saddened by his mama's empty cupboards and wants only to find a way to put food on the table for the holidays (A Packrat's Holiday: Thistletoe's Gift, illustrated by Nancy Batra); a young girl who yearns to win a ribbon at a 4-H horse show so she can earn a pair of shiny, black tall boots (Tall Boots, illustrated by 1000 Storybooks); a baby duckling whose only desire is to be able to keep up with his brothers and sisters (Waddles the Duck: Hey, Wait for Me! illustrated by Nancy Batra). And in Cradle in the Wild, my latest picture book soon to be out, two young girls who want to help birds build their nest in springtime.

If you’re searching for ideas, read and study up: always a good idea. But search inside, for that’s where you’ll find what you are looking for. Passions of yours will turn into stories and articles that will benefit you and your readers for years to come.

Linda Wilson writes stories for young children. Visit Linda at Click the links for free coloring pages and a puppet show starring Thistletoe Q. Packrat. While you’re there, get all the latest news by signing up for Linda’s newsletter. 

Find Linda’s books at  Amazon Author Page.

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