Sunday, September 27, 2009

Master Class One - Through a Child's Eyes: Writing for children with Shelley Tanaka

Shelley gave an interesting and well designed seminar on writing for children. She concentrated on voice and character and covered kidlit from toddler books all the way to writing for teens.

While some of the things she said seemed like revision, common sense, or long ago learned writing tips, other things she said I found really useful. A few tips I'll share below.

The Dolch word list, 200 words that children under the age of seven should know, and keeping a young childrens story mostly to that list is important.

As she discussed teen lit, she outlined the exact ingredients I saw in the story I have in mind for the genre.

I'll share some of them below, you'll find many relate to all genres, not just kidlit. I won't give away everything she said, just hints that were new, or particularly useful for me.

Write in your head, think through chapter, outlines, scenarios, etc.*
Start writing when your fingers itch.*
Concentrate on small moments.*
Get feedback, especially from the target market.*
Write a well known story from a different POV. (ie The three little pigs from the Wolf POV)
Consdier how a child shows anger, fear, emotions.*
Practice free writing (as fast as you can for 3 minutes.)

And with that, I'm setting my watch. I'll finish the sentence at three minutes.

My wife had a baby on Tuesday. I stood over her in the hospital room smiling as she had an incredibly intense contractions. She was in major pain, zoning out, holding the nearby rail, moaning and groaning.

And I was smiling. I found something funny in it. I would be a father soon, my wife was going to give me a daughter. I shouldn't have been smiling though, there's nothing funny in seeing someone you love suffer, although I knew she wouldn't die.

I tried to stop smiling, and succeeded by reading a poster on the wall. It gave tips on what a partner can do to support their spouse giving birth. I followed the guidelines.

"You're doing great... I think it's peaked now, it's subsiding... You're doing well... Keep it up honey...

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