Monthly Archives: August 2010

A Few Things I’ve Learned

Sometime around ten years ago I declared myself a writer. At the time of declaration I thought being a writer simply meant you wrote stories. I did not realize what needed to be learned before others would view me as a writer. Today, I have been racking my brain for interesting blog ideas. There are so many blogs out there regarding the craft of writing that it is hard (not impossible) to think of a topic that has not already been done. So, I thought why not go back to that girl in her twenty’s who knew virtually nothing about the craft and tell her some key facts she will need to know in order for her writing to be taken seriously. Here is what I remember learning early on. Please leave a comment and share with us what you remember learning.
*Show Don’t Tell –Eg. Caren was mad. (this is telling). Caren threw her book bag across the floor and slammed the door behind her. (This is showing)
* Pov’s- 1rst Person Point of View (A character narrates the story. Their use of speech would include the words I-me-mine.
2nd Person Point of View (rare) the author would use you or your as if they were directly addressing the reader.
3rd Person Point of View- Writing in 3rd person means you only know the thoughts of one character. If your main character is Edmond you can write about how Edmond feels. You are writing as if you are looking through Edmond’s eyes.
Eg. Edmond’s heart longed for the girl Stella once was. (You can write this because Edmond is your main character). You cannot write Edmond looked at Stella and his heart tugged and then in the next sentence write Stella knew Edmond was looking at her but she refused to look back.(Stella is not your main character so you would not know what Stella felt or thought.) Unless you were writing in 3rd person-omniscient (this is when the author decides to open up the thoughts of all the characters to the readers). I like the idea of this but I think you would really have to master it in order to get positive feedback.
*Formatting – Most agents, editors and publishers prefer that your manuscript be double-spaced, using Times New Roman in 12pt font. (Don’t think you will make yourself stand out in a good way by using something different.)
*Query Letters, Cover Letters, Bio’s and Synopsis
Query Letters – Brief letter to agent or editor consisting of a short hook, (eg. A short sentence that draws them in and hopefully tempts them to want to read more), a brief overview of what your book is about (Eg. Edmond and Stella have known each other since the sixth-grade. When Stella starts hanging out with the known druggies, Edmond fears he will lose her forever and decides to develop a plan to save her.) Close your query letter by adding your qualifications or experiences (Publishing credits, schooling, memberships etc).
Cover Letters- A cover letter should accompany a manuscript. This letter will provide an overview of your submission. If an agent or editor request material, your cover letter is where you would remind them that this is being sent because it was requested. Eg., Thank you for requesting Edmond and Stella etc, etc.
Synopsis- A complete description of your work in which the entire book is conveyed compactly. You can write a one or two paragraph synopsis or a chapter by chapter synopsis (check the agent or editor’s specifications before sending)
Bio – A very brief summary of who you are. Practice summing yourself up in fifty words or less.
This blog could go on and on and on (I didn’t even touch, story structuring, grammar, the importance of critique groups etc.)
For now I will end this blog but promise to continue posting things I have learned. I am still learning, which is exactly why I love the craft as much as I do. We can’t become experts if we refuse to admit there are lessons to be taught. Our journeys are different but we all encounter the same lessons along the way.
What did you not know early on?

Leave a comment

Filed under audience, books, constructing, creating, editing, emotions, Fiction, Inspirational, life, middle grade fiction, novel, query, random, rejections, routine, story writing, Style, Voice, writer conference, writer's life, writers, writing, Writing, Young Adult

Inspired By Sleep Deprivation (Writing For Your Audience)

“We are going to stay up all night mommy,” my daughter whispered before she left to go to her first birthday sleepover. “I heard that and you better not!” my husband hollered. As I watched her walk out with her overnight bag flung over her shoulder, a smile painted across her face and a bounce in her step, I thought, this is exactly the type of experience I need to remember in order to correctly write for middle-grade readers.
I write for a middle-grade and young adult audience so I am constantly tuning myself in when possible. Early on in my writing career, an instructor advised me that most writers will write about the time period they recall the clearest (you may disagree.) I have to agree because the years between the age of twelve and eighteen were magical for me. Every experience was new and exciting. Every emotion was magnified and every possibility was thought of as an eventual reality.
The mom in me wanted to preach to my daughter and tell her it wasn’t in her best interest to stay up late but the twelve-year old in me wanted to say “See if you can beat my record”, (which was 10:30 a.m.). This moment in time leads me to an important point. You must know your audiences before you write for them. Don’t rely on your own experiences, watch as others embark on ones of their own.
What genre do you write for? How do you tap into your inner protagonist?
Although I can clearly recall days like the one my daughter just spent, there were key elements I forgot.
What do you do to stay in touch with your target age? Do you know what is important to them? What are their mannerisms? What do their conversations sound like? (Avoid using slang because it will date your work). What makes them laugh out loud? You get my point. Do yourself a favor and take time to observe, your readers will thank you.
My child may have ended up a little sleep derived but we both gained something in the end.

2 Comments

Filed under audience, books, constructing, creating, dreaming, editing, emotions, Fiction, Inspirational, middle grade fiction, novel, random, stories, story writing, Style, Voice, writer's life, writers, writing, Writing, Young Adult

Did You Say A Query Critique, Dove Chocolates and MOCKINGJAY?


Hey hey, my time has been limited lately and unfortunately my blog was the first thing to suffer. I am going to make a valiant effort to update it more frequently (even if it means I will be sleep typing).
I have an awesome contest to share with you and I think the prizes are fabulous. Amie Borst (A fellow writer and chocolate lover) is running a contest (but you have to hurry it ends today). She is looking for new followers to her revamped blog and to thank those who participate she is offering a query critique, dove chocolates and a copy of the widely anticipated MOCKINGJAY by Suzanne Collins (If you have not read the first two books The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, I strongly urge you to run to your nearest library or book store for a copy). What do you have to do? Leave a comment and become a follower (there are several ways to earn points). I thought about telling nobody so I upped my chances of winning but then realized that just isn’t me. I’m a spread the love type of girl. Good Luck!

2 Comments

Filed under books, BUCKET LIST, constructing, contests, creating, dreaming, editing, Fiction, Giveaway, Inspirational, novel, query, random, story writing, Style, WISHES, writer's life, writers, writing, Writing, Young Adult