Saturday, January 22, 2011

Writing Tips from Children's Author Jewel Kats

Welcome to Day 4 of the virtual tour for my new book Reena's Bollywood Dream. Today I'd like to share some of my best writing tips.

Writing comes from the soul. It’s an art form full of passion and intensity. Not necessarily a lot of money. Satisfaction, though, is guaranteed.

Writing for children is tricky business. You have to be entertaining and creative, yet careful with your words. After all, you’re dealing with impressionable minds. Moreover, there are parents, teachers and librarians looking out for your audience’s benefit. In this sense, you have a lot of people to satisfy.

The biggest rule of thumb in the world of children’s literature is: DON’T TALK DOWN TO YOUR AUDIENCE. This refers to your whole audience. Kids especially like to be treated in high-esteem. They may be young, but don’t insult their intelligence.

Learn to make your settings believable. Create a world or place that kids would like to be in; or at the very least see themselves in. Remember, to use your five senses when describing things. Don’t use generic descriptions or euphemisms that are overdone. Make it a point to think outside the box.

I personally love to get to know my characters. I go as far as charting their physical attributes, habits, hobbies, etc. I’ve even heard of some writers “interviewing” their characters to get to know them on a more intimate level. It’s important that your characters are three dimensional.

It’s also really important to create dialogue that’s real. If you’re writing a present-day story listen to and observe modern-day children. How do they speak? Listen with an open mind, and heart. Use current word choices. If you’re delving into the past, and writing a manuscript from another era do your research. And, do it accurately!

Speaking of research, take a look at what’s currently being published. Look up the publishers you’re targeting and see what they’re putting out in the market. Log onto their websites to gain access to up-to-date writer’s guidelines.

I always encourage aspiring writers to join critique groups, children’s writing workshops or organizations. Feedback from peers always helps, and offers another perspective. Guidance from experts is priceless. Besides, it’s always great to network with like-minded people.

I’ve learned to accept that rejection is a part of this business. Go back to the drawing board if refusals come your way. Try to figure out what went wrong with the manuscript, and perhaps even—dare I say?—finish writing another masterpiece. Maybe this time around, someone will spot your gem.

Lastly, never give up on yourself. Even if you do get published—such as in my case—speed bumps still can come your way. Sometimes the nasty ol’ writer’s block plants its big butt in your corner. What are you supposed to do? Get up, brush yourself off, and get back in the ring. Even if that means you have more bruises going in this time around!

Find out more about me and my book at the National Writing for Children Center, where the book is showcased all this month.

Follow Day 5 of my tour tomorrow at Leave a comment every day of my tour and your name will automatically be entered to win a Gift Box Bundle - filled with books and other goodies - at the end of the month, provided by the National Writing for Children Center.


Suzanne Lieurance said...

Great writing tips, Jewel!

I look forward to interviewing you next week on Book Bites for Kids!

Ellen said...

Great advice. Thanks for sharing. I can imagine that writing for children comes with a lot of challenges!

Margay said...

This is great advice. Thanks for passing it along!

Cheryl said...

Excellent article. Not talking down to your audience is so important when dealing with young people.

Best of luck with your book.


Morgan Mandel said...

Thanks for the tips. I especially like the one about not talking down to the reading audience. Good thing to remember.

Morgan Mandel

Anonymous said...

Great writing tips! Thanks for sharing them. Best wishes with your book.