I was struck by a piece of writing advice in an interview with Kate Messner posted on the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) blog.
While Messner writes for children, this advice applies whether you write poems, memoirs, novels, short stories or essays.
“It’s simple. If you want to write picture books, write them. Whether you are feeling inspired or not. Some of them will be awful, and this is okay. Don’t send them out. Let them live their lives out quietly on your hard drive, and learn from them.” Read more
Sure you want to get your work published, but have you thought about your writing in terms of a career?
It’s easy to focus on the work at hand — the current short story, memoir, or novel in progress. But a couple years ago, I gained a new perspective from literary agent Donald Maass, who says:
Writing is a long-term profession that you must approach as a career. And that career is ultimately in the writer’s court.
First and foremost, Maass says, a writing career begins with good storytelling. Studying craft and writing daily is step one. Maass, author of Writing the Breakout Novel, teaches writing and how to propel your storycraft to the next level in his book and workshops. His advice made me think about what it takes to build a writing career.
Consider these career-building strategies.
Hook into your town’s writing community. Writers are everywhere, so whether you live in a town, tiny burg, or big city, you should be able to find a community of writers (even if it’s small) who share your interest. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, consider starting your own writer’s group. Writing MeetUp Groups are another good way to find a writer’s group focused on writing in general or by genre. Read more
How well do you know your characters? If you’re stuck or blocked in your writing, it may be a signal that you have more to discover.
Speaking at a workshop sponsored by the Nevada chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Susan Brown, author of “Hugging the Rock” and several other children’s books, said when she gets blocked, it helps to learn more about her characters. That in turn helps her raise the stakes of her story.
Brown suggested these writing exercises:
Tip 1: Write letters to your characters and then have them write back.
Through letters, Brown has learned interesting nuances about her characters that led to new plot twists. Read more
As writers, we don’t want characters who are empty shells, cardboard cutouts. As young adult author Libba Bray says, “You don’t want characters to be blank slates filled in by the reader.”
Author of Beauty Queensand Going Bovine to name a few, Bray spoke at the 40th annual Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Aug. 5-8.
It’s hard to create a plot with interesting twists if your characters are boring and don’t react in interesting ways, she said. So how do you create compelling characters? Try these techniques: Read more