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True Story Blog

Scary Good Tips!

Happy Halloween! To celebrate, here are a few treats for writers—tips from #firstpicturebook authors Qian Shi, Natalia O’Hara, Lauren O’Hara, Nancy Vo, and Mike Petrik. Click on the links to read their complete interviews.

Qian Shi’s THE WEAVER: “First, write down all the things you imagine that could happen in the story. Don’t judge, just write them down. Then once you’ve got enough material, look through them and edit. Use the ones that make sense, put away the ones that don’t work. You can repeat this process a few times, eventually you will get a story that can even surprise you.”

Natalia and Lauren O’Hara’s HORTENSE AND THE SHADOW: “Something we've found useful is the discovery that criticism is a bullseye pointing to a problem that the critic might not have worked out. So if your agent or editor says ‘You need to introduce your antagonist on page 3’, it's possible that's not what you need to do at all, but there's almost definitely something wrong with page 3.”

Nancy Vo’s THE OUTLAW: “Lisa Cinar taught a picture book class where she showed us 10 images and we had 5 minutes to come up with a line that would begin a story. It was a really effective way to use an hour to brainstorm story ideas. You are less inhibited this way, and sometimes get good surprises.”

Mike Petrik’s SAMMY’S SPOOKTACULAR HALLOWEEN: “I am biased since I am an illustrator, but I don't think I would be able to write without sketching ideas along side the writing.  Maybe this is something to try if you are having a creative block?”
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