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 on: August 07, 2014, 07:08:49 PM 
Started by jfields - Last post by salex
Thanks Jan for the checklist on picture books. Excellent information.

 on: August 07, 2014, 05:39:53 AM 
Started by jfields - Last post by jfields
Children's Writers eNews
August 7, 2014
"The Write Words to Read"
The Institute of Children's Literature
Editor: Jan Fields --

"You cannot wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club."
-- Jack London
1. News
2. Online in Rx
3. At the Writer's Retreat
4. What's New at Kristi's?
5. Market
6. Cool Site
7. Essay
8. Good News
1. Kristi Holl is blogging again. Yay!
2. In the Rx
"Writing Young Adult Fiction"
Excellent advice from the voice of, Deborah Halverson

3. Are You On The Writer's Retreat?
The August discussion on "Goal + Motivation + Conflict + Tension" is going on now.

And for all visitors whether registered or not, you'll find plenty of helpful information: get help for student lessons. Learn to build solid plots. Share your ups and downs with fellow writers. It's all there.
4. What's New at Kristi's?

Kristi: "I'm glad to be back after the three-month sabbatical. It took some unexpected turns, but it was the most valuable time I've spent in years. I'm looking forward to sharing some of it with you."

Friday, August 1: Making Creativity "Work"
Creativity is mysterious. We don't understand where it comes from, why it leaves us, or how to make it "work" consistently. Try these ideas!

Tuesday, August 5: Regaining Your Love of Writing
Have you lost your love of writing? In today's writing environment, this is caused by a number of different things--but it ISN'T the writing.

A brand new digital-first publisher. Accepts YA (only interested in FINISHED manuscripts) and accepts both novel length and short stories.
Offers an advance ($1000 for novels/ $250 for novellas) and buys short stories outright (7 cents per word), but this is a brand new untested publisher so read your contract carefully and make wise choices. Still, new can sometimes offer both enthusiasm and opportunity.
6. Successful Queries
Lots and lots of successful queries to give you an idea of what works, and how much variety really exists.
7. Picture Books

Okay, you've written a great story. It's pretty short -- under 1000 words. You like it. Your critique group likes it. It really is good, but is it a picture book? It isn't enough that it be good or even great, a picture book is a particular kind of writing. So, ask yourself some questions:

___ Does your story sing? Whether the story rhymes or not (and not is usually better), your prose needs to sing. Try humming the story to yourself. Does it have a flowing, singing rhythm? Not sing-song, but melodious. Picture book stories require a special attention to the sound because if they succeed, they will be read again and again.

___ Does every word count? Picture books contain nothing extraneous. Not only should every word be working, every word should be essential. Some picture book writers spend years choosing exactly the right words for their 300 word story. The word choice should be crisp, juicy, rich but not heavy -- like a perfectly ripe apple.

___ Does your story go beyond the story? A great magazine story may tell about a child's fear of the dark bathroom at school or about how smiles help everyone, but a picture book needs to go beyond and speak to the very heart of fear or joy. The question isn't "would every child relate to this situation and feeling (magazine story)" but "is this story about every child (picture book) even though focused on my main character?"

___ Does your story offer a strong visual forward motion? It is not only important that every picture be different (not all in the same room, or all with two people talking) but will the illustrator be able to couple your words with pictures that tell their own story that also moves forward clearly? Will the theme of your story unfold in the pictures? Do you have enough for the illustrator to work with?

___ Does your story have repeat readability? If you include a joke, will it be amusing every time the parent reads it? Will your dialogue still sound crisp and exciting on the 500th read-aloud? Is there something in the quality of your language that gives a gift to the reading parent even as it gives to the child?

___ Is your target the pre-reader? Classroom stories don't interest as many editors now because the target audience has become the pre-reader. Chapter books are targeting the young reader be certain that your story situation and language speaks to the pre-reader.

___ Is your main reason for insisting that you have written a picture book because you want to be a book writer? Magazine articles are not failed picture books. They are a different creature and many times they are excellent. Read recent magazines. Read recent picture books. It's like telling the difference between a pony and a zebra -- if all you know about is ponies, you are going to call a zebra a pony every time. Study both and you can learn to stop saddling your zebras.

8. Good News

Krysten Lindsay Hager: Just wanted to share that TRUE COLORS, my MG/YA book and the book trailer made it onto the USA Today website today!

Patricia Moore: My picture book, PLEASE, MISS GOODING! was recently published and is now on Amazon!

What's Your Good News? Send to -- be sure to put "good news" in the subject line since I get a lot of book announcements due to the review work I do. So I don't want your good news to slip through the cracks.

9. For All Subscribers

Many of our enews issues are being blocked from getting to all of our subscribers. It can be difficult to convince your email provider that you truly want to receive this enews. Therefore we've created a list of directions to make it easier for you find the exact steps to ensure the enews always makes it to your inbox.

Please, check out this link for specific directions to ensure you get every issue of the Children's Writers eNews.

To Unsubscribe from the email version of Children's Writers eNews, go to
NOTE: I can add you, remove you, or change your address manually and will be happy to do so.
To have your address changed, email and do the following:
1. TELL ME that it's a change of address for the enews. I handle a lot of things so if you don't tell me what you want me to do, I may not do it.
2. TELL ME your OLD address as well as the NEW one. I cannot search by your name. I need the old address.
3. DO NOT send me a mass mailing that you sent to everyone in your address book that just tells me your new email. I won't know what you want me to do or if it's really for me at all. And I'll probably just delete it.

 on: August 06, 2014, 10:58:14 PM 
Started by Mikki S - Last post by Mikki S
When it comes to internal and external conflict, there are certain things you have to remember.

1) Internal ( inner) conflict is often something that has been with the MC for a very long time. It doesn't have to be something that suddenly arises because of this goal he is now pursuing. ( Although, of course, it can be.) In The Freedom Thief, Ben's internal conflict had been present for years. His parents and older brothers believed deeply in the institution of slavery, but Ben did not. He had been brought up in Northern schools where slavery was taught as an abomination, a sin against black people. From the age of 5 to 10, a very impressionable age, this is what he learned. His parents and older brothers never had much to say to him about slavery, while they lived in New York, and he didn't ask many questions. He just accepted what his teachers and his school books taught him.

When his grandfather died, and the family moved back to Kentucky on his grandmother's plantation, his real conflict began. He still hated the idea of slavery, he knew that his grandmother did also, and was a secret Abolitionist, but his parents and brothers believed very strongly in the institution of slavery. He also knew that the large farms and plantations of the south had to have many workers, who were slaves, because the owners refused to hire them as paid workers. So he was always in conflict with what he believed, and what he knew his parents wanted him to believe. It didn't help that his best friend was the crippled slave boy, either.

This conflict came to a head when he learned his father was going to sell Josiah, and the only way to stop this was to help him and his slave parents escape.

So...this internal conflict had been going on for years inside of Ben. It was not something brought about by his decision to help his friends escape.

2)External (outer) conflict doesn't always have to be another character. External conflict can be anyone or anyTHING that strives to prevent the MC from attaining his goal.

Ben knew that if his parents found out about his plan to help the slaves escape, it would not bode well for him. He tried to figure out a real to do this, where to go, etc. But then the man who was going to buy Josiah appeared out of nowhere, and Ben and the slaves had to run for their lives that very night.

The first external conflict was the tunnel they were in, beginning to collapse around them. Would they make it to the end and get out safely? There were other 'inanimate objects' that became external conflicts: the deep forests that they got lost in; the swamp where Josiah nearly died, and so on. They were fighting for their lives without another character being a part of this kind of conflict.

There were also humans involved as part of the external conflict: the slave hunters who were following them and almost caught them several times; the supposedly Abolitionists who gave them shelter in a "safe" house, but who really were locking them up so they could sell the slaves and Ben back to a band of slave hunters; and the Union soldiers in the fort they had to pass by in order to get to the Ohio River.

Just keep in mind that internal conflict can be something going on inside the MC over a period of time, as well as it being something that can arise  as a function of his decision to attain a specific goal.

And that external conflict can be another character or several characters, or it can also be something in the MC's environment that is creating hardship for him to get on with reaching his goal, or it can even be an animal, perhaps something that stalks him in the jungle, or attacks him and creates injuries he must overcome.

Any one or any thing that is or creates an obstacle the MC has to overcome before he can continue on his journey to achieve his goal is a part of his external conflict. And it must always be something that seems to be impossible to overcome, to get through, or to subdue, and the MC must always have to work very hard, and sometimes make some difficult choices, in order to get through this situation and go forward.

 on: August 06, 2014, 12:33:40 PM 
Started by Mikki S - Last post by jfields
Pretty much all the part of this equation are things YOU know as writer, but stuff you don't spell out for the reader. It's revealed as the characters go about dealing with the pressure you're putting them under with your plot. You know what the character brings to the story in terms of personal baggage. You know what goal you intend for him to have in relation to the pressure you're putting him under -- and sometimes the goal he achieves isn't even the one he thought he was pursuing. The reader simply sees how the character deals with the moment by moment pressures of the story and discerns what is going on with him.

So I would agree that action is the key -- action reveals because we choose our actions from a mixture of present pressure and past baggage. We'll see the present pressure. We'll see how the character behaves in response to it.

 on: August 06, 2014, 09:47:40 AM 
Started by Mikki S - Last post by judyr
I think action is almost always the key. I'm not sure there is any story where you can just TELL the character's main goal and how they will reach it.

 on: August 06, 2014, 07:28:43 AM 
Started by Mikki S - Last post by RMHSmith
Thank you so much for the detailed explanation of GMC, Mikki S, and for the added comments, everyone else!

I look forward to learning more about the relationship between conflict and tension. Right now, I interpret moments of tension as being the individual parts that, when put together, make up the greater body of conflict. Is that a correct way to look at it, or should I consider new information and develop a more accurate understanding of the concepts?

In addition to what everyone was discussing on whether we can have all elements of GMC in all creative writing, I'm not so sure. But I believe it's ideal to have all these elements in fiction, definitely. Sometimes, the shorter the piece, the more subtle those elements seem to be, but they should be there. Sometimes, they are inferred by the MC's actions, not directly stated (whether in dialogue or thoughts).

For instance, in a rebus story I wrote of about 150 words, Buster's Bone, Buster the dog couldn't find his bone. He went to talk to a few familiar animals and insects in his habitat to ask them if they knew where his bone was. I didn't directly state (in the MC's words or thoughts) that his goal was to find the bone and eat it just because he's a dog and that's what dog's do, but by his actions, that was inferred. The main conflict (that he didn't have a good system for finding lost things) was also unstated, but it was inferred by other animals/insects telling him what they do to find their things.

The more I think about it, I'm wondering if action is the key (?)  What do you all think?

 on: August 06, 2014, 07:10:50 AM 
Started by Mikki S - Last post by jfields
Remember, things you know (as author) don't necessarily have to be spelled out for the reader and DEFINITELY don't need to be spelled out all at once.

 on: August 05, 2014, 08:40:20 PM 
Started by Mikki S - Last post by jojocookie
It requires a bit of backstory to pull off. Which, I've told myself the lie, I can't do.

 on: August 05, 2014, 05:05:00 PM 
Started by Mikki S - Last post by jfields
Sounds good

 on: August 05, 2014, 04:31:02 PM 
Started by Mikki S - Last post by jojocookie
Love that example, Jan. Brilliant!

Would it also work if the character acted out of a lie? A lie the character believes about himself? A lie he believes because of something that has happened in his past. Because of some hurt that he or she has experienced in the past? Say rejection. That is an obvious one. But then he has told himself the lie that he will never be loved and therefore this causes him to not act in his best interest? Then he or she gets into trouble until they figure it out?

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