Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Why did the Chicken cross the road?

I don’t really know or care about WHY she crossed the road right now. That’s plot. That’s motivation. That's a different conversation.

What I really want to know is HOW the chicken crossed the road.  Does she march with pomp and circumstance, holding a baton and humming ‘76 Trombones’? Or does she sneak on her belly, stealth like in dark colored parachute pants?

Showing how your character does a simple task tells us more about the character than if you tell us she’s a band leader or a ninja.

Writing prompt: Write a paragraph of how your character crosses the road without telling us who she is. Demonstrate an aspect of her personality by how she moves.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

You’re a writer? Then Write

What do say when someone asks you what you write? YA? Middle Grade? Picture books? Magazine stories? Newspaper articles?

I would argue that you should explore at least two or three genres/mediums. More, if you can manage it. Not only will writing in more than one medium help shape your writing and your craft, it might also get you published quicker, and give you more credentials. 

I started writing picture books (well, the text for picture books) about ten years ago. That morphed into writing a short story, which later became my first completed YA novel. Around the same time, I started to explore nonfiction. And then middle grade. I’m also a freelance copy writer. And my day job is grant writing.

I write. A lot. It’s just not always on the topic or project on which I’d prefer to be working at any current moment. But that doesn’t matter (unless I’m on deadline. LOL). I’m honing my craft. I’m working on word choice. I’m practicing brevity—or depending on the project, I could be practicing the art of descriptive story telling.

Lo and behold, it was the nonfiction that stuck first. I was able to transfer my attention to detail and research skills into Work-for-Hire nonfiction. That gave me the confidence to keep working at my real love, which is YA and Middle Grade.

I wish I could say that I’ve mastered the art of writing. Of being a writer. I spend far too much time on social media to be the productive writer that I know I could be. But by diversifying my writing style, working on a lot of different projects, I feel more confident in my work. More confident in my ability to take on a project and see it through to completion. I’ve also found that it has given me a comfort level to hear criticism of my work, whether from a critique partner or an editor.

What genre or medium do you wish you could tackle?