1 They write as if their work is being marked. It’s hard to lose that inner student, the kid who’s shit scared of getting it wrong. But you’re not that kid anymore. You can write whatever the hell you want. In any shape or form. People don’t know what to do with this freedom. It … More Seven common mistakes aspiring authors make
Is there a hierarchy in the children’s book industry? You betcha. If you’re just entering this dog-eat-dog world, think of it like a school. A large, grey bugger with high fences and lots of asphalt. The picture book creators are kept inside, in a rarefied, humidity-controlled, tastefully decorated sanctuary. Busy finger painting. Will speak to fairies. No one else. The … More Behold! The children’s book industry. Here’s how it works
When I worked in publishing, I was surprised by the number of unsolicited manuscripts that had wonky tense. Not the occasional transgression. They crop up in most manuscripts. I’m talking about tense that was a bit like time travel. Totes all over the place, girlfriend. Past, present, here, there, everywhere. Now, when I teach IRL (in real life), … More Here’s where writers often stuff up. (Part Two of yesterday’s post)
If your story isn’t taking off, maybe you’re telling it from the wrong perspective. The wrong point of view. I’ve been known to go on about this. But it’s important. I’ve grappled with it so often it’s become a fallback for when things are going badly. If my story is dragging its feet, I reassess. I think, okay, can … More How Point of View can save your story (Part One of two posts)
Writing books is about the art of writing. But it’s also about problem solving. This aspect of writing is often glossed over. But it trips up countless aspiring authors. They often confuse problems with lack of talent. When they hit a stumbling block, they assume it’s because they can’t write. Not so. They probably just need to do knuckle … More Is this why you think you can’t write?
I wrote my first picture book in the 1980s. It was about a teddy bear. Mr Bear spent several hours dangling from a clothesline. Gripping stuff. I popped my story in an envelope and sent it to a publisher. Six months later when the rejection slip arrived, I stuck it to the wall above my typewriter. … More How to become a better writer
Sometime ago, I was staying in a hotel in Sydney. It was a busy morning and there was a queue to get into the dining room for breakfast. I was glad I had an apple. Dum de dum. In front of me was a young family. Mum, Dad and two little kids. Primary school age. Waiting, … More One cool way to help readers remember your story
You might have caught a glimpse of this post a while back. I accidentally published the draft. Then I had a nervous breakdown trying to reel it in. Luckily, there were no swear words in that draft. Nothing too incriminating. It’s a miracle, really. Considering the topic. Let me begin with a disclaimer: Unlike most … More Help! I don’t know what I’m writing! Categories in kid lit
‘Narnia! It’s all in the wardrobe just like I told you!’ Dialogue. Lordy lord, it can bring writers undone. Basically, dialogue needs to lively and straight to the point. Cut any excess. Say what needs to be said, then keep moving. Especially in kid lit. Your characters should be speaking within some kind of engaging … More Talking heads. Why you should shut them up, pronto
If your story’s a bit flat, if things aren’t moving, have a think about your characters. What’s driving them? In particular, think about your main character. Your protagonist. Is your protagonist wobbling along on a rusty pushbike, veering all over the track, in danger of falling off at any moment? Is she wandering through the story … More Get your characters moving! Here’s how.