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 91 
 on: July 04, 2015, 08:36:36 AM 
Started by ColoradoKate - Last post by ColoradoKate
... by which I mean, you know how sometimes you can see different levels in a book? There's the action, and you can read purely to follow that story. And there's the back story and the character stuff--motivations, growth, and so on.

But then there's the way some very clever writers can weave imagery throughout, like using something in the setting (weather, or sightings of birds, or food, for instance) to provide something that ties the story together and affects the mood of it.

And then there's theme, and how a thoughtful reader can pick out ways that the author has added layers of imagery or the MC's thoughts or repeated actions that emphasize a theme.

 92 
 on: July 04, 2015, 08:28:31 AM 
Started by ColoradoKate - Last post by ColoradoKate
So... we have action and emotion/character as layers. Could subplots be seen as layers, too? I'm thinking that they need to weave together, as in Jan's plaiting metaphor.

 93 
 on: July 04, 2015, 08:26:24 AM 
Started by jfields - Last post by ColoradoKate
My next story's definitely going to have more action in it! But I always find myself, when I'm planning, focusing on the MC's reaction to things: how the stuff that happens affects him or her, how s/he changes, how his/her personality helps or interferes with the resolution. I think I need to focus at least equally on what the MC actually does, and I think it may help to see these different areas as layers.

I have other thoughts about that, but I'm going to start new threads with them...

 94 
 on: July 03, 2015, 10:58:38 AM 
Started by jfields - Last post by jfields
For me (personally) I have always tended to focus on the action layer and hope the emotional just comes along for the ride. And often I have to tweak the revision to make the emotional layer clearer. But I'm such a genre writer and so plot driven. I know many writers who are much more focused on how the characters will change AND THEN they build a plot that will precipitate that change through the challenges and actions the character must face/do.

 95 
 on: July 03, 2015, 07:37:30 AM 
Started by jfields - Last post by ColoradoKate
I find it's (sadly) possible to have the opposite problem, too: to have too much weight in the emotional layer and not enough action. And even in a character-driven story which naturally emphasizes the emotional layer, lots of believable, relevant action is needed to keep the reader reading and the plot moving.

So, when you plan, whether that's outlining or just brainstorming, do you consciously focus on both layers? How?


 96 
 on: July 03, 2015, 03:26:30 AM 
Started by jfields - Last post by jfields
I'll get the ball rolling here with two layers that are part of pretty close to every successful plot. The plot needs both the action layer (what the characters do) and the emotion layer (how the character changes.) Obviously these will be intertwined so they're less layers and more strands in a plait.

The action layer is the physical pressure of the story, the thing that presses on the main character until he simply MUST do something. In general, the more difficult the SOMETHING, the more pressure you have to build in to make us believe the character would do it. For instance, in a plot for preschoolers...if the child sees something roll by while he's on the floor building blocks, he'll feel pressure (curiosity) and all he has to do to relieve it is get up and run in the direction of the object he saw. This might be enough pressure for a preschool mystery as he follows the rolling, flashing object from room to room, crawling under the bed at one point and in and out of the closet. We can believe curiosity would propel a child along that route.

But what if the object rolls out the window and across the roof and down the drainpipe and across the yard and into the very scary woods. Now you need an older protagonist, an older reader and a lot more pressure. Now he will need to do more than wonder about the rolling object. He'll need a good reason to actually be invested in catching it.

So the more danger/effort/pain the character has to go through in the plot, the more the "problem" must be applying pressure to keep the character there. For instance, suppose you have a haunted house that is doing terrifying things. Why doesn't the character simply leave? Why stay in this horrifying situation? The character needs more reason than because he is curious or stubborn -- make the reason bigger.

--
Now the emotional layer is a little trickier. It needs to work with the physical layer, be entwined throughout and not just feel tacked on, not be really obvious (the kid who has to do into the scary dark cellar after his ball even though he's afraid of the dark is both overdone and probably doesn't have enough pressure to get him down there anyway. Personally, as a kid who was brutally afraid of things like scary dark cellars...I would have simply kissed the ball good-bye.) And the change that occurs in the emotional layer must be believable as well. As a child who was afraid of scary dark cellars, I can tell you that if something forced me to go down in one and I did it -- afterwards, I'd still be dang scared of scary dark cellars. Just because you survived the terrifying thing once doesn't mean you're not afraid of it anymore. I may have learned I'll survive even if I push myself into scary things, but I won't suddenly find them not scary.

Since I tend to write adventure stories, mysteries, and humor -- I often have to really work to keep an emotional layer in the story because the things I write as so plot driven. And to be honest, with some forms, you can definitely sell a story with very little emotional layer. I'm working on something now that a publisher loves that has almost no emotional layer (it's humor) -- but the stories that linger with the reader, the stories that win awards and such -- those tend to be the ones with a strong emotional layer well integrated with a strong action layer.

 97 
 on: July 02, 2015, 03:15:27 AM 
Started by jfields - Last post by jfields
Children's Writers eNews
July 2, 2015
"The Write Words to Read"
The Institute of Children's Literature
http://www.institutechildrenslit.com
Editor: Jan Fields -- author@janfields.com

-------------------------------------------------------------------
"I don't have a favorite book; I have hundreds."
J.K. Rowling
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
CONTENTS OF THIS ISSUE
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
9. Note to subscribers
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1. Writing Contest -- Early Reader Mystery
https://www.writersbookstore.com/sc/wbs_contest.htm
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2. In the Rx
So Little Time
http://www.institutechildrenslit.com/rx/ws02/littletime.shtml
We all have trouble fitting writing into our lives, but here are three tips to help.
-------------------------
3. Are You On The Writer's Retreat?
http://www.institutechildrenslit.net/index.php
July's discussion of the month is "Layered Plots" -- all through the month, we'll be talking about this important topic. Plots, subplots, internal conflict, external conflict -- how do we weave these together to make a convincing story? Pop in to talk about it all during July.
------------------------
4. What's New at Kristi's?
http://kristiholl.net/writers-blog/

Friday, June 26: "For Writers Needing Some Fun, Try the Unschedule"
Get your writing done, but still enjoy plenty of fun time off with the proven technique of the "unschedule."

Tuesday, June 30: "Inspired by WD-40"
"To working writers, rejection is like stings to a beekeeper: a painful but necessary part of their vocation." Come be inspired by these stories.
---------------------------
5. Writing for the Education Market
http://writingfortheeducationmarket.com/
New website designed to education companies with the writers they need. Will have job postings and a database of education writers.
---------------------------
6. Highlights Fiction Contest Winners Announced
"Sam Sleuth” by Leone Castell Anderson
"Mystery Bus Stop" by Susie Sawyer
"The Partner" by Debbie Urbanski
https://www.highlights.com/highlights-fiction-contest
Plus, the announcement added the bad news that they do not plan to have a contest next year.
---------------------------
7. When I Need a Story RIGHT NOW!

Sometimes I find myself in a situation where I need to write a story RIGHT NOW – right this very minute. Now, I don’t necessarily laud this as the best way to create stories, but sometimes you just have to come up with something and I don’t ever like to run dry. So how do you come up with a children’s story RIGHT NOW?

I usually start with character. I tend to write plot driven stories (meaning the story structure is all about the plot and the amount of inner turmoil and angst is pretty low), but even though my story structure is plot driven, my process for “instant story” always begins with a character.

To build a character, I look for his or her “star trait.” This is the big thing that will drive my character into the plot. And I often find these by making a list of all the things that are true of my personality. This is always a good starting point because I know they are things I can write about from experience, so they are things that are true of me or have been true of me at some point in my life: worrier, dry wit, socially anxious, forgetful, day dreamer…

You get the idea.

Once I have the list, I pick a trait and imagine the far extreme of that trait. I want my character to be memorable and larger than life (because that kind of character is the easiest in an “instant story” situation.) So imagine I create a character who worries all the time. In fact, he’s made a hobby from worry and collects stories of weird ways people have died – a list he trots out whenever someone suggests he do something that worries him. He is so fond of this “worst case scenario” list that every time he trots it out, his mom makes him research a way someone has gotten OUT of that terrible situation (because she wants to help him be less fearful). So now he may not always SAY the possible worst thing that could happen, but he certainly thinks it.

Once I have his “extreme trait” I immediately find that all sorts of traits just fall into place in my head and I can “see” this kid. This happens really fast, so I might make a list of all the side traits or maybe I’ll jump in and write a memory from this kid’s life in first person to help me “set” him in my head.

Now, once I can “see” him, I brainstorm what he would consider the worst thing in the world that could possibly happen to him. Maybe he would most hate being forced into a situation he would consider really really dangerous. His family is going camping (bear attacks! Lyme disease! Poison Ivy!) and he cannot convince them to leave him behind. They assure him that everything will be fine. But, of course, it is not – in fact, everything is very much NOT fine and … [here I must come up with some really huge issue]
...he gets lost in the woods.
...his family disappears, and he’s alone at camp.
...a bear shows up.
...they accidentally stumble upon a gang of bad guys hiding in the woods.

Once I get my poor little guy in the worst trouble possible, I then have to get him OUT of trouble. For the best, most satisfying story, the very trait that helped me get him INTO trouble will now help me get him out of it. This is a kid who has collected worst case scenarios all his life, so he is also the one who knows what to do in every horrible situation. He knows exactly how to make it through a night alone lost in the woods or he knows exactly how to respond to a bear. He saves the day and his family is delighted with him (which he enjoys despite knowing exactly how many people die in hug injuries every year.)

So, that’s how I make an instant story. How about you?
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8. Good News

Christine Collier: My short fishing story, “The Legend of Dinosaur Rock,” is in the July issue of Guardian Angel Kids online. The theme for July is dinosaurs. Also, my article about strange health remedies from the past, “Good Old Days?Huh???” will be in the September issue of Prairie Times, online and in print.


Marjorie Goertzen: In their July/August 2015 issue about shipwrecks, Aquila Children’s Magazine printed my article entitled "Unsinkable," describing Pyke’s envisioned ice ship.  Warm thanks to my ICL instructor Gillian Richardson, for her help in editing Assignment 9 for publication.

Donna Marie West: I have two drabbles (100 word stories) in the June issue of the electronic magazine, THE WERE-TRAVELER. Titles are "Guidance" and "Gramm's Old Ouija Board".

Sonja Anderson: So happy to report that my novel for ages 8-12, Sophie's Quest, has recently been released by Sunberry Books (Sunpenny Publishing Group), a Christian UK publisher. An owl and a mouse become friends on a Holy Land adventure!

What's Your Good News? Send to author@janfields.com -- 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.
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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 http://institutechildrenslit.com/email_whitelist_instructions.htm 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
http://www.institutechildrenslit.com/rx/email_updates_unsubscribe.shtml
-------------
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 author@janfields.com 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.

 98 
 on: June 25, 2015, 01:57:50 AM 
Started by jfields - Last post by jfields
Writers eNews
June 25, 2015
"The Write Words to Read"
The Institute of Children's Literature
http://www.institutechildrenslit.com
Editor: Jan Fields -- author@janfields.com

-------------------------------------------------------------------
"You have to write your way to [your unique] voice, write past all the other writers you've read, absorbed, and loved. Write so much that you get them out of your system. Though there will be traces of them there. And once you've gotten past them, these silent teachers who inspired you, you may start to find your own true voice.
-- Bruce Coville
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
CONTENTS OF THIS ISSUE
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
9. Note to subscribers
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1. Writing Contest -- Early Reader Mystery
https://www.writersbookstore.com/sc/wbs_contest.htm
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2. In the Rx
The Power of Books Upon Kids
http://www.institutechildrenslit.com/rx/tr01/shulevitz.shtml
An inspiring chat with Uri Shulevitz, author of WRITING WITH PICTURES: HOW TO WRITE AND ILLUSTRATE CHILDREN'S BOOKS.
-------------------------
3. Are You On The Writer's Retreat?
http://www.institutechildrenslit.net/index.php
June's discussion of the month is "Working Through Burnout" -- all through the month, we'll be talking about this important topic. Though writing can be a joy, the business side is definitely harsh. How do we keep working when the whole thing is starting to burn us out?
------------------------
4. What's New at Kristi's?
http://kristiholl.net/writers-blog/

Friday June 19: "Too Much Housework = Too Little Writing"
Is the person putting pressure on you to be everything for everybody...you? Think about it before the summer gets away from you.

Tuesday, June 23:  "How Fit is Your Writing Life?"
The problems that derail our writing goals and our fitness goals (and the solutions to these problems) have much in common.
---------------------------
5. Guide Magazine
http://guidemagazine.org/writersguidelines
Looking for true stories that use short story techniques in the writing, written for 10-14 year olds. Wants stories that show with dialogue and "word pictures." Looking for TRUE stories that bring out a spiritual or character building principle.
Top needs listed on the site:
TOP NEEDS AT PRESENT:
 * Adventure and Humor TRUE stories featuring boys.
 * Five- to ten-part continued story (one for boys, one for girls) -- again, remember, no fiction.
Pays 7 to 10 cents per word.
---------------------------
6. Warning: Simply Read Books
http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-industry-news/article/67153-simply-read-books-faces-complaints-of-late-payments-breached-contracts.html
Complaints of late payment and other issues with this Canadian publisher.
---------------------------
7. How to Have a GREAT Critique Group

___Keep the group small enough for everyone to keep up with critiques but large enough that someone has something available to critique on a regular basis. Most recommend 8 to 10 members.

___Set a maximum submission size. Don't assume new members will know better than to submit their whole young adult manuscript for critique at one time.

___Set clear rules about how much critiquing each member is expected to do. It isn't usually good to require members critique EVERY manuscript but limits should be made about how many manuscripts a member can skip.

___Rules should be set about how much chitchat is encouraged. Some critique groups are very chatty, others require personal messages not be sent to the whole group. Either way can work but all members should be comfortable with it.

___Rules should be set about how rough manuscripts can be for critique. Some groups allow early drafts submitted, others prefer members submit only their best work. Either way can work, but again, all members should be comfortable with it.

___Clear guidelines should be set about group confidentiality. Confidences, insecurities, and even good news shared within the group should stay within the group. Nothing will kill a critique group quicker than a feeling of mistrust.

___Encourage critiquers to be supportive but honest. Give specific examples when making general observations. Focus on improvement, work for clarity in your explanations.

___Encourage submitters to be open. Suggestions may sometimes include examples for clarification -- don't choose to see that as re-writing your story. Not every suggestion will be right for your story, but sometimes a critique that gives incorrect suggestions will point you toward problem passages or unclear meaning.

___Encourage members to refrain from debating critiques or defending their work. A critique may be wrong, but it shouldn't be a springboard for debate. Consider every comment, keep what you need and discard without comment what you do not. Be grateful for each person's time.
-----------------------
8. Good News

Sonia Snyder: Chipper, the Amazing Chair is now available in the Kindle store.   Chipper, a chair that can see, hear, and feel things touching its body gets chair-napped before Dr. Sitbottom, the inventor, finishes connecting two very complicated wires. Everyone, even the pirate who uses Chipper to rob a museum, believes the chair is ordinary. If only Chipper could talk, he'd show the world how amazing he is

E M McIntyre: I'm excited to announce the release of my first YA fantasy novel, The Phantom of Faerie Mountain; Book One of The Red King Trilogy. "A telepathic dog. An ancient prophecy. Two devious faeries. 14 year old Abby Fletcher must unravel their connection when she is thrown into a world of unknowns after receiving a mysterious message from a frightening beast: The Red King must set me free." You can find it on Amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/author/redkingtrilogy

J.R. Sparlin: My fantasy novel for young adults, The Court Wizard, is now available on Amazon and barnesandnoble.com! In manuscript form, it was the winner of the inaugural 2012 Clare Vanderpool Work of Promise Scholarship, awarded by the Kansas chapter of the Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators.

What's Your Good News? Send to author@janfields.com -- 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 http://institutechildrenslit.com/email_whitelist_instructions.htm 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
http://www.institutechildrenslit.com/rx/email_updates_unsubscribe.shtml
-------------
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 author@janfields.com 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.

 99 
 on: June 23, 2015, 01:29:42 AM 
Started by jojocookie - Last post by jojocookie


The part about crit groups being subjective hit home with me. Very true.
 
I'm glad to know that you decide that publisher just wasn't the right one and you move on. That's basically what I have been doing but then the doubts are always lurking.

Thank you, Sherry. You have given me such encouragement!!

 100 
 on: June 22, 2015, 04:36:46 PM 
Started by jojocookie - Last post by salex
Jojo, I don't use a critique group. I find they are too subjective as well. I write, edit, and revise until I am satisfied. I read what I have written out loud to make sure the words make sense to me. If they don't, or if the sentence or paragraph or even chapter is too long, or too short, I revise then I move on to the next chapter. Sure, I ask for help when I am stuck on a scene, but then I go to WR and ask if anyone can read through it to see if it makes sense. Everyone on WR is so helpful and encouraging.

When I am happy, I write the query and send it off. Yes, I get rejected. But to me that just means I haven't chosen the right publisher, so I research and try again. You have to have faith in yourself as a writer. Some days that is the hardest thing to do, but you must have the strength to continue moving forward.

I know you can write, Jojo. I've seen it. I've read it. Your children's book--Wiggle, Wiggle, Scratch, Scratch, Itch, itch--is proof of that. So, next time you doubt yourself--stand in front of a mirror and tell yourself "I am an author. I write books. I am an author. I write books!" Or, send me an email and I will chant with you because I am anxiously awaiting you next book.

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