Showing posts with label fiction writers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fiction writers. Show all posts

3 Tips to Help Launch your Writing Career

Your story begins with an idea, an idea that has come from one of your own experiences or someone’s experience that you’ve observed. 

To write your story, you first need to do your homework: read up on writing for children, read other authors’ books in your genre, take courses, go to conferences, join a critique group, etc. Write on a regular schedule and you will learn, through trial and error, what works and what doesn’t work on your road to publication.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? 

Oh, but there’s so much more. My own writing journey is a lot like a discovery I made when I became a Girl Scout leader. I went through the training, read the manual, and prepared myself to do whatever I could for the girls in my troop. 

What I didn’t realize until later was how much the Girl Scouts would do for me! I learned many crafts and how much work goes into making lasting, worthwhile crafts. Our troop spent a lot of time outdoors, and together we acquired a lifelong knowledge of skills and a love of nature. I could go on. The same happened when I started writing: becoming a writer has done so much for me I could fill volumes. 

Here in a nutshell, are the hallmarks of what I have learned.

Tip #1: Decide Where to Begin
When the urge to write takes hold of you, take some time to decide the direction you will take. 
  • Nonfiction is an excellent place to start. You can learn the ropes while finding an easier path to publication than fiction. Editors are always on the lookout for good, solid nonfiction articles.
  • Fiction is a world unto itself and much needs to be learned. Resources abound in your local area and online. Take advantage of them and soon you will be on your way.
  • Exploring your feelings and beliefs, I have found, goes hand-in-hand with your writing journey.

Tip #2: Decide What You Care About
Build your stories around the things you care about the most. You will be doing three things:
  • Bringing out what you’re interested in passing on to the next generation.
  • Giving yourself activities to share during school, library and organization visits.
  • Promoting what you stand for as a person.

Here is my list of what I care about most, and how I’ve strived to incorporate the topics on my list into my stories.
  • Family: Every children’s story is a family story—the type of family determined by you, the author.
  • Friendship: So important in childhood, my stories reflect what being a friend means.
  • Nature and the Outdoors: Much of the setting in my stories takes place outdoors. I strive to make this appear a natural, integral part without giving away my desire to spark an interest in my readers to get outside to play and explore.
  • Athletics and Staying Fit: Lots of running, biking, and sports are in my stories, showing some characters as fit, while showing others struggle who are not so good at athletics.
  • Music: A few references to music are made—really, snuck in.
  • Hobbies: Also shown as an integral part of my stories. Learning the importance of having a hobby is a gift I received from my dad, who had several serious hobbies. I would like to pass on the place a hobby can have in a person’s life.
  • These last two go without saying: Appearance and the Importance of Surrounding Oneself with Positive Friends, snuck in as part of the story.

Tip #3: Sure-Fire Ways to Become a Success
If anyone had told me how much goes into writing for children before I started, I wouldn’t have believed them. I have learned that there are certain qualities that will help you succeed:
  • Desire: Essential to keep going through the ups and downs of your writing journey. I let writing go for a few years to go back to teaching. As soon as I left teaching, BOING, up popped that writing desire, a part of me that I know now will never die.
  • Perseverance: An editor once told me she has observed that the way to succeed in writing is to persevere. The writers she knows who have stuck it out are the ones who get published.
  • Write for Yourself while Thinking of Others: Ask yourself what your reader wants: a good mystery, a story that reflects a need, an exciting adventure. Then write that story for him or her.
  • Above all: Have Fun! Have you ever heard that when you go to a party, if the hostess is having fun, the guests will have fun, too? The fun you have writing your story will electrify your readers and keep them coming back for more.

Image courtesy of:

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 100 articles for adults and children, and six short stories for children. Recently, she has completed her first book, a mystery/ghost story for children 7-11 years old, and is hard at work on Book Two in the series.  Follow Linda at

Pull Your Reader's Heart Strings

When your character is caught up in the heat of the moment you want the emotion that you evoke to be authentic. She finds out that her best friend took her lunch money without asking. The neighborhood bully is spreading lies about him behind his back at school. The day has finally
come for her to pick up her new puppy at the shelter.

Resources such as the series by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi can help: The Emotion Thesaurus, The Positive Trait Thesaurus and The Negative Trait Thesaurus. But unless the emotions come from deep inside you, the writer, true feelings that you have experienced, whether joyful or filled with pain, may not ring true when expressing your character's feelings.

Take a Leaf from an Actor's Playbook

To cry on demand, according to Wade Bradford, in "How to Cry: An Actor's Guide to Crying and Tears,", an actor need only recreate into her own true emotions, by:
  • Tapping into her memory: a sad experience that resulted in overwhelming grief or pain. Caveat: An actor must be in tune with her past.
  • Choosing the right memory for the right moment.
  • Finding ways to connect script lines with personal moments when a memory isn't enough. Some ways this can be accomplished is by thinking up upsetting events that didn't actually happen to the actor. What if someone talked her into going on a roller coaster ride on the highest, fastest roller coaster in the world, and she's afraid of heights? Her dog fell down a dry well and is lying on the bottom, hurt?
Where Writers Have It Over Actors

In the July 1, 2014 post, "4 Tips for Writing Great Scenes," by Ingrid Sundberg from her blog ingridsundberg, Sundberg describes the  importance of creating emotion in scenes. The first tip is to make sure your scene has dramatic action, " . . . the action the protagonist takes to resolve the problem he has suddenly been faced with." Sundberg quotes Robert Mckee in STORY: "Well plotted stories are built on stringing together the scenes that have dramatic action. These are the important moments within the character's life that move the plot forward." Tip two asks, "Is there a significant emotional change in the scene? A great way to tell if your scenes have dramatic action is to check and see if there's a significant emotional change;" i.e., having the character start the scene happy
and leaving it sad.

Here's where you express your own true emotions.Think of the main emotion expressed, jot it down and reflect on it. If need be, consult your personal feelings and a resource such as The Emotion Thesaurus. After writing the scene, the next day (after a rest) see if you've shown the utmost emotion so that your reader may experience and identify with what your character is going through.

Create a Personal Emotion List

To tap into your own authentic emotions, try keeping a notebook or computer file of your own poignant moments. Every time an experience happens to you or occurs to you, add it to your list. The seventy-five emotions listed in The Emotion Thesaurus can jumpstart your list, with such topics as envy, guilt, happiness, denial, and confusion. Here are a few of my personal emotions I've thought of so far.

Surprise: The Elephant Foot Story

Early one spring for Mother's Day my family wanted to get me a wild-bird-watching gift to enhance my love-of-birds hobby. They found a cement bird bath, not fancy, but an excellent addition to my growing collection of books, bird feeders, bird clock--you get the picture. The problem was, where to store it until the allotted day. Knowing me and that I would not notice, they contrived to hide the bird bath in plain sight. They turned the stem part upside down with the wide-mouthed tub stored next to it on the garage floor, right next to where I parked my car.

On Mother's Day morning I went outside and was completely surprised to find the birdbath set up in the garden filled to the brim with fresh water. When asked if I had noticed anything different in the garage on the days leading up to Mother's Day, I said, "You mean the elephant's foot?" For that is what my mind told me I saw all those days when getting in and out of my car. Needless to say, this story has become part of our family lore, which to this day I haven't been able to live down.

Scared/Afraid: An Unwanted Parking Lot Visit

On the day of my dental appointment I ran a quick errand at the grocery store and made it back to my car with minutes to spare. I had my hand on the door handle when a man walked up and asked if I would give him a ride to a location about twenty miles away. Instinct told me I had only seconds due to the sinister look on his face. He took a step toward me just as I pulled the door handle and jumped in, mumbling that I had to hurry to the dentist's office. I locked the door and sped away. A second longer and I may not have gotten away.

Sad: Rabbit in the Road

I debated whether to include a recent sad event that happened to me. Originally, I thought I'd include only fun personal stories. One of my daughters changed my mind. She told me that sad stories run deep and therefore are unforgettable. This sad event, as I tell it, still brings tears, which qualifies it for my Personal Emotion List. Just two weeks ago while stopped to pick up the morning paper, I saw two cottontail rabbits in the middle of the road. One lay flat and unmoving, the other very much alive, sitting with its chin resting on its parent/sibling/cousin's lifeless body. A movement from our car sent the live rabbit scampering into the underbrush. I rode tearfully away, with an intense twist in my heart, as if gripped by a fist. The experience planted itself immediately in my heart as one sad occurrence I will never forget.

If you're pressed for time: Perhaps all that is necessary is a simple index with notes jotted beside each emotion you want to elicit. Whatever method you use, the important thing is to endow your character with the truest emotion possible so your reader can laugh, cry, be annoyed, right along with the character in your story.

Photo courtesy of

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, recently completed the online Fiction Course with, and is currently taking Joyce's Picture Book Essentials course. Linda has published over 40 articles for children and adults, six short stories for children, and is in the final editing stages of her first book, a mystery story for 7-9 year olds. Follow Linda on Facebook. 

Writing for Success

Writing is now big business. It has the world-wide 
stage, a global market. Spin-off businesses like 
tutors, publicists and agents spring up and prosper.

The writer and writing have always been  commodities 
to be marketed. The difference now is that more 
books are published per day than used to be 
published annually.

It is the best of times but also the worst of times for 
writers--and especially for those of us who choose 
to write fiction.

Difficulties of marketing fiction

Books for sale, photo by Peter Griffin,

In the main, fiction writers write to entertain, tell stories that encapsulate human experience. They have something to say--a message to share. This idea of theme pervades all successful writing.

But if you are writing to make money, you'll be very 
lucky to become one of the big hitters on Kindle, no 
matter what the marketers and publicists tell you.

You are competing against millions of books, both new and from successful authors' backlists as well as those which are sourced from the public domain, or are written to order.

So how can you make money to fund your writing?

Think about it--money is being made in copy writing, 
ghost writing and to some extent blogging or content 
writing for websites. 

Profit can be made from spin-offs--webinars, 
teaching writing courses, even writing lots for others.

But often the best money can be made at home 
through networking. Talk to librarians, local schools, clubs, businesses. Discuss courses/ visits and talks on your area of expertise. 

Offer to run a reading and writing hour in school or as 
an after-school activity, suggest a talk on self-
publishing to attract more people to the library, 
promote your services as a business writer,
enhancing staff communication skills or providing new website content on a regular basis.

As a bonus, whatever the result, you'll be gaining new experiences,meeting new people  and finding even more ideas and customers for that new novel.

 Anne Duguid is a freelance content editor with MuseItUp Publishing and she tries to pass on helpful writing,editing and publishing tips at Slow and Steady Writers The photograph is by Peter Griffin and can be found at

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