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Writing for Children

Do you want to learn how to write for children? The Institute of Children's Literature has taught hundreds of thousands of aspiring writers, and the director of ICL is the host of Writing for Children. Bestselling children's author Katie Davis focuses on the craft of writing for children: how to write a children’s book, how to write for children’s magazines, how to get paid, and get published. There are listener questions, with answers from the experts at the Institute, plus hard-to-find resources and links included in every week's show notes. If you want to learn about how to get into children's publishing, Listen!

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Interview with Kate DiCamillo | Writing for Children 182

INTERVIEW WITH KATE DICAMILLO Kate DiCamillo's writing journey has been a truly remarkable one. She grew up in Florida and moved to Minnesota in her twenties, when homesickness and a bitter winter led her to write Because of Winn-Dixie—her first published novel, which became a runaway bestseller and snapped up a Newbery Honor. Since then, she has been a National Book Award finalist, won two Newbery Medals and was named National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. She now has almost 30 million books in print worldwide. In this interview, we dig into Kate's newest book Beverly, Right Here and talk about characterization through dialogue, including: Do you think about showing v. telling while you’re writing, or do you naturally fall into it? What do you find most challenging about writing dialogue? Has your dialogue changed in your protagonists over the years? Is it hard to switch between writing dialogue for kids, teens, and adults? Check out our amazing new self-led course, Revision Power at writingforchildren.com/revisionpower

32mins

11 Jan 2020

Rank #1

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How to Write a Rhyming PIcture Book That Won't Get Rejected | Writing for Children 195

HOW NOT TO GET REJECTED Perhaps the most common question from new picture book authors is, “Why do agents and editors say they hate rhyme when so many rhyming picture books get published each year?” These authors aptly observe that kids love rhyming books, many of them are bestsellers, and Dr. Seuss’s books still sell millions of copies. Here’s the truth. Agents and editors don’t hate rhyme. They hate poorly written rhyme. Inspired by an article from 12 x 12 Writing Challenge Founder Julie Hedlund, let's talk about strategies for developing well-written rhyme. Check out our amazing new self-led course, Revision Power at writingforchildren.com/revisionpower

13mins

10 Apr 2020

Rank #2

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Creating Charaters Inspired by Real Life | Writing for Children 153

CREATING CHARACTERS INSPIRED BY REAL LIFE One way to find great characters is to look in the world around you. This seems relatively simple but may actually be harder than it sounds. Why? Because the key to creating vivid characters is writing them objectively and letting the reader draw their own conclusions. What does it mean to be objective when writing about your characters? In this episode, we work through an ICL exercise to help you see the world, and the characters in it, more objectively. Get a FREE peek into Writers' Block here: http://instituteforwriters.com/freewritersblock

10mins

14 Jun 2019

Rank #3

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Set Up Your Plot | Writing for Children 149

GIVE YOUR CHARACTERS SOMETHING TO DO Summed up to its essential core, a plot is the result of applying pressure to a character to the degree that the character must act in reaction to the pressure. The pressure you apply and the reaction to it will be directly tied to the character you’ve created. An impulsive, brave, active child will take very little pressure to be pushed into an adventure, but an “easy” plot like that is rarely very satisfying for the reader. Let's talk about ways to up the pressure and keep your readers engaged. Get a FREE peek into Writers' Block here: http://instituteforwriters.com/freewritersblock

10mins

17 May 2019

Rank #4

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Finding Your Character's Childlike Voice | Writing for Children 184

A CHILDLIKE VOICE Kids are far more discerning than many writers suspect. They know a "fake kid" when they hear one, so your dialogue must feel like real words spoken by a real kid. At the same time, it cannot include all the affectations (um, so like, um, what?) that might be part of real speech but would drag the story down. So how do you learn how to write real dialogue? Glad you asked. Here is a three-step process that will help you transform your dialogue. Check out our amazing new self-led course, Revision Power at writingforchildren.com/revisionpower

9mins

24 Jan 2020

Rank #5

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Create Your Author Platform | Writing for Children 157

CREATE YOUR AUTHOR PLATFORM What IS a platform? It’s your visibility. The wider your reach, the more books you can sell. What you do with your platform is try to reach (in an authentic way) your target audience. It’s all about connecting—with people on a real level and because of your reach, you are able to sell books. It’s not about being in people’s faces and hollering about buying your book. So, who needs a platform and where do you begin? Let's talk about it in this episode. Get a FREE peek into Writers' Block here: http://instituteforwriters.com/freewritersblock

11mins

12 Jul 2019

Rank #6

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6 Steps to Submission Success | Writing for Children 175

6 STEPS TO SUBMISSION SUCCESS These days a vast majority of publishers and agents accept submissions online, whether through email or a website form. There are a few holdouts, but these days it sounds strange to hear anyone say they don't take digital submissions. This means we all need to learn how to put our best foot forward in online submissions. Adapted from an article by Jan Fields, here are six steps to submission success. Want to come to our amazing Revision Power webinar? Sign up at writingforchildren.com/revisionpower

14mins

15 Nov 2019

Rank #7

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Break into Publishing | Writing for Children 176

BREAK INTO PUBLISHING Writing is a noble proposition, in and of itself. Published writing is something else entirely. And paid published writing—whoa, Nellie, that’s just glorious! In order to get published, though, you need to put yourself “out there” in the world, and get your writing in front of people who are in charge of accepting items for publication … preferably in places that will pay you for your work. Inspired by an article from Rita Reali, let’s look at different ways to break into publishing today. Want to come to our amazing Revision Power webinar? Sign up at writingforchildren.com/revisionpower

11mins

22 Nov 2019

Rank #8

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10 Things That Make Editors Cringe | Writing for Children 187

10 THINGS THAT MAKE EDITORS CRINGE Nobody wants to make an editor (or anyone) cringe when they read your manuscript. Inspired by a post from Jamie K. Schmidt, we’re covering 10 things that make editors cringe and tips to avoid them. Be sure to head to writingforchildren.com/187 to download the show notes because many of these tips will be easier to see in writing. Everybody knows to use spellcheck or Grammarly when going over their writing. However, some mistakes aren’t generally caught by these two programs. And if you want to stop an editor’s eyes from rolling to the back of her head, you should check your writing for these errors. Check out our amazing new self-led course, Revision Power at writingforchildren.com/revisionpower

13mins

14 Feb 2020

Rank #9

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Sophisticated Show & Tell Part 2 | Writing for Children 151

POINT OF VIEW AS A TOOL This and last week’s podcast is based on an article written by author and former ICL instructor Chris Eboch which touches on engaging your reader and gives some strong examples. In our episode 150, we talked about using vivid nouns and verbs instead of vague description to engage your reader in your story. In part two, we’re delving into using point of view for the purposes of showing. Get a FREE peek into Writers' Block here: http://instituteforwriters.com/freewritersblock

9mins

31 May 2019

Rank #10

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Being Inspired by Everyday Objects | Writing for Children 154

BEING INSPIRED BY EVERYDAY OBJECTS It's human nature to become attached to things. We connect specific memories to objects: when we received it, who we received it from, how we've used it. Also, objects are wonderfully concrete and specific, we feel the weight of them in our hands and see the effects of age on the object. As a result, objects can also make wonderful story and poetry starters. Get a FREE peek into Writers' Block here: http://instituteforwriters.com/freewritersblock

10mins

21 Jun 2019

Rank #11

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Interview with Emma Walton Hamilton | Writing for Children 173

INTERVIEW WITH EMMA WALTON HAMILTON Emma Walton Hamilton is a best-selling children’s book author, editor, and writing coach.  With her mother, actress/author Julie Andrews, Emma has co-authored over thirty children’s books, nine of which have been on the NY Times Bestseller list, including The Very Fairy Princess series. She is Director of the Children’s Lit Fellows program at Stony Brook University. She served as the Editorial Director for the Julie Andrews Collection imprint at Harper Collins for six years. So, she's seen submissions from both sides of the desk. We talk about: • What are common mistakes new writers make when submitting? • How do you find the right place to submit to? • Do all writers need an agent? • How do you get an agent? • Do any houses accept unsolicited at this point? Get a FREE peek into Writers' Block here: http://instituteforwriters.com/freewritersblock

18mins

1 Nov 2019

Rank #12

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An Interview with Emma D. Dryden | Writing for Children 147

AN INTERVIEW WITH EMMA D. DRYDEN Emma D. Dryden founded drydenbks LLC (www.drydenbks.com), a premiere children’s editorial & publishing consultancy firm, after 25 years experience as editor and publisher of Margaret K. McElderry Books and Atheneum Books for Young Readers, imprints of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. We are thrilled to bring you her expertise on setting and world building in this month's interview. We talk about: The best way to help your reader feel like they’re in your world without “telling” and creating prolonged descriptions. Great metaphors for emotions (and a way to show not tell). How to avoid cliched characters. What to do when readers tell you they’re not believing your character. The biggest mistakes Emma often sees when people are trying to set the stage. Get a FREE peek into Writers' Block here: http://instituteforwriters.com/freewritersblock

23mins

3 May 2019

Rank #13

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What Goes Into Effective Description | Writing for Children 148

HOW TO EVOKE DETAIL IN YOUR WRITING Today we’re talking about the art of description. This episode is inspired by Assignment 3 in the Writing for Children and Teens course. We’re going to focus on evoking in detail a particular place you remember from your childhood. That word “detail” is important, because, if you think about it, specifics are what bring a subject to life on the page—and the elements that make for interesting reading. Get a FREE peek into Writers' Block here: http://instituteforwriters.com/freewritersblock

11mins

10 May 2019

Rank #14

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What to Expect From a Writing Conference Pt 2 | Writing for Children 163

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU'RE EXPECTING TO GO TO A WRITING CONFERENCE PART 2 In last week's episode, we talked about how to choose the conference you want to go to. This week, we'll touch on what to expect when you get there, what to wear, what to take, and what not to do. Get a FREE peek into Writers' Block here: http://instituteforwriters.com/freewritersblock

17mins

23 Aug 2019

Rank #15

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Revision Power Tips | Writing for Children 178

5 TIPS TO REV UP YOUR OPENING When a reader picks up your book, you don't want them to put it down. Here are five tips for energizing your opening sequence and pulling in your reader. Want to check our new self-led course, Revision Power? Go to writingforchildren.com/revisionpower

30mins

14 Dec 2019

Rank #16

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Reshaping Your Story Part 1 | Writing for Children 167

RESHAPING YOUR STORY PART 1 You’ve finished a draft (or several drafts) of a story you’re excited about. You set it aside to cool for several days, then reread it. While you’re still pleased with the story, you have to admit it needs more work—not just polishing, but re-engineering for better pace, suspense, and focus. If you’re like most writers, you may also find it’s run considerably over the word length you were aiming for, an important consideration if you’re planning to submit the story to editors. Today we talk about where to begin reshaping your story. Get a FREE peek into Writers' Block here: http://instituteforwriters.com/freewritersblock

9mins

20 Sep 2019

Rank #17

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Pitfalls of Research | Writing for Children 171

EVALUATING YOUR SOURCES Today’s episode comes from the IFW book Searching: A Research Guide for Writers, now available in our bookstore. Whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction, research is an important piece of having an authentic article or manuscript that connects with editors and readers. In this episode, we’re talking about how to evaluate the information you find in your research for credibility and reliability. Questions to Ask Never accept a web page at face value; always evaluate the information. Here’s a checklist of basic things to consider: • Who is the author? What credentials does this person or organization have?  • What is the purpose of the website or publication? Is it intended to inform, inspire, entertain, or persuade? What is the historical context of the information? • How comprehensive is the coverage? Is it an overview or does it delve deeply into your topic?  • Is the source impartial or does it emphasize paid links? For more questions to ask about your source, listen to the full episode Get a FREE peek into Writers' Block here: http://instituteforwriters.com/freewritersblock

7mins

18 Oct 2019

Rank #18

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Assembling Your Submission Package | Writing for Children 174

ASSEMBLING YOUR SUBMISSION PACKAGE When it comes to becoming a published writer, queries are quintessential. They represent the bridge from your creative endeavors to becoming a professional. Sure, some submissions require cover letters or website forms, but every writer must conquer the query above all. And the query is a key part of a writer’s platform. This episode will look at queries, cover letters, and the other elements that make up submission packages. Get the ICL Submission Prep Package FREE: http://writingforchildren.com/submissionprep

14mins

8 Nov 2019

Rank #19

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Interview with Renee LaTulippe | Writing for Children 165

INTERVIEW WITH RENEE LATULIPPE Renée M. LaTulippe has poems published in many anthologies including School People (ed. Lee Bennett Hopkins), and National Geographic's The Poetry of US and Book of Nature Poetry (both ed. J. Patrick Lewis) to name a few. Renée developed and teaches the online course The Lyrical Language Lab: Punching Up Prose with Poetry and blogs on children’s poetry at NoWaterRiver.com. We talk about: • What are common mistakes new writers make? • How do you eliminate too much description but still give readers the flavor of your character and setting? • Should all writers study poetry or just writers writing in rhyme? • Favorite revision tips? Get a FREE peek into Writers' Block here: http://instituteforwriters.com/freewritersblock

21mins

6 Sep 2019

Rank #20