Thursday, March 24, 2011

Writing Tips from Children’s Author M.E. Fink

Welcome to day four of M.E. Finke’s 6-day NWFCC March Author Showcase tour and join Ms. Finke as she discusses the all important HOOK of a story.

Think about what HOOKS you on a story. Then compare it with what I think makes a great story. I want to write them. You want to read them.

#1 – Get the action going on the first page.

#2 – Don’t waffle on. Waffles are fine for breakfast – not for writing.

#3 – Create characters a kid will root for and identify with – the good, the bad and the ugly!

#4 – Powerful and active verbs are a writer’s best friend. Use your Thesaurus to dig them out.

#5 – Analogies only work when they fit the time, the character and the setting.

#6 – Tight writing is the name of the game mates - tight as your granny’s new girdle, mates.

#7 - Keep a tight focus on your plot. Sidetracks that lead nowhere slow the pace.

#8 – A few short and punchy sentences UP the tension. Long rambling ones KILL tension.

#9 – Find a good critique group. Pick the brains of the advanced members. Their feedback and support will prove helpful.

#10 - Learn to network among other writers. Join online writing lists and groups that write for the same age as yourself.

I write and tweak as I go along. I have to watch out for the word GREAT. It pops up everywhere. Do you have an overused word that needs an exterminator? I love to track down super powerful verbs that make a scene jump off the page.

Getting carried away with a descriptive passage is one of my faults. I have to consider it for a while, and then decide if it is there because it strengthens the story, or just because I fell in love with my own words.

Self-editing is one of the hardest tasks a writer can tackle. We are so close to the characters, and involved with the plot, that weaknesses and side tracks are often entirely missed. This is where a critique group is a wonderful asset. I rely on my group to jump on my “waffles,” point out plot weaknesses and give me an overall opinion – thumbs UP or thumbs DOWN.

Rewriting and then putting it aside for a few weeks (months) is an excellent way to discover obvious problems, and weaknesses you missed when working on it every day. I recommend this to all my clients. The answer to that nagging feeling that something didn’t quite jell will jump out at you the moment you reread those pages with fresh eyes.

I think the biggest problem I see in beginner’s manuscripts is overwriting. Tight writing doesn’t have to be stilted. Let it flow. However, make sure the story flows in the right direction and at a good pace. Practice and experience will help you master tight writing, good pace and focus. Until then, there’s always that critique group to point out the error of your writing ways.

Follow Day 5 of Ms. Finke's tour tomorrow at Leave a comment and your name will automatically be entered to win a Three Angels Gourmet Co mug and a package of Divine Dill Dip Mix - at the end of the month, provided by the National Writing for Children Center.


Margot Finke said...

Many thanks for hosting me today Mayra. And I do hope my "writing words of wisdom" prove helpful to some of your readers.

Donna M. McDine said...

Hi Margot:

A sure fire list of tips to printout and keep alongside my newest writing.

Hi Mayra:

Thank you for hosting Margot today.

Best wishes,
Children’s Author
Write What Inspires You Blog
The Golden Pathway Story book Blog
Donna M. McDine’s Website

Mayra Calvani said...

Great to have you on my blog, Margot! Best of luck with your tour!

Margot Finke said...

Thanks Donna and Mayra. Being hosted by all you wonderful writers is an honor indeed.

Margot's Magic Carpet - all 11 of my books on one page

Pat McCarthy said...

All good advice, Margot. It helps to make a list of those words you overuse, after you figure out what they are, so you can keep a watch out for them when you edit.
Pat McCarthy

April said...

What a wonderful and informative post. So many excellent tips!

Anonymous said...

Lots of great tips. Thanks for sharing them!

Tribute Books Mama said...

Thanks for posting and sharing.

Cheryl said...

Great post with tons of wonderful advice, mate. Wishing you the best.


Margot Finke said...

Ladies, your comments and praise has me blushing. You are all so wonderfully supportive. NWCC is a great "launch" vehicle for our books.

And thank you Mayra, for taking the time to host me on your blog.

Margot's Magic Carpet - all 11 books on one page.

Marge said...

Thanks Margot. I'll be checking for my overused words. Excellent tips.

Margot Finke said...

Glad my tips were helpful, Marge.

Margot's Magic Carpet - all my books on one page.