Happy Holidays Kidlit writers! Need a few writing tips for 2020? Here are some favorites from #5Favorites contributors:
(Click on the author's name to see the full Q&A.)
Type up a favorite picture book to see the words without the art.
My favourite writing tip is from Nicholas Fisk who said "The plot can be allowed one thumping lie (say, the invasion of earth) but only one. Everything arising from the thumping lie must make sense." I try to follow that.
If something is not working, shelve the idea for later and write something new.
Instead of worrying about getting everything perfect the first time, get the first draft FINISHED. If there are detail-y bits you still need to work out, stick in placeholder text like "<something amazing here>" or "<xxx>" that you can search for later, if you need to. You will be revising later, but you can't revise
a blank page.
Write down what your intention is for your manuscript (to entertain, evoke feelings, offer an opportunity to reflect) as well as what the main question of the story is (Ex. How do you make a friend, what happens when you lose your lovey, etc.) and keep it by your computer. It's helpful to be reminded of both and it will keep your writing focused.
Read everything you write aloud.
If you have only 15 minutes to write, use all of those 15 minutes to write. Set a timer. Turn off your phone. (Not silenced, off.) Block out the distractions. You'll be amazed at what you can accomplish if you don't wait for that perfect block of uninterrupted time.
When I'm writing, I try my best to be an empty vessel. Meaning, to not think of any book that I'm writing as "my" story but to approach it as though this is a story that has chosen to come into the world through me. And so my job (and my responsibility to the story) is to be the best listener that I can be. If I'm not a little surprised, I'm usually doing something wrong, being too controlling. I've found that most of the best stories and poems have a life of their own, and my job is to stay out of the way.
Be true to your story, not true to 'trends.'