Monday, July 20, 2009

Mentor Monday--Read!

Sometimes a person who wants to write for kids approaches me as a librarian and asks for advice. And, as a librarian, the best advice I have to offer is to READ!

Want to write picture books? Read picture books. Want to write historical fiction? Read historical fiction. Read anything and everything in the way of children's literature. Read books, magazines, websites designed for children, poetry, activity books, etc. Have I made it clear? To be a writer you have to be a reader.

If you're writing for your eyes only, then of course you don't have to read, but if you're coming to someone for advice, then you want to reach out to readers, so...you too, must be a reader. What else besides children's literature should you read? I'm glad you asked.

Here's a very short list of items that I've found to be of use:

Bernays, Anne, and Pamela Painter. What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers (HarperCollins, 1991).

Brohaugh, William. Write Tight: Say Exactly What You Mean with Precision and Power (Sourcebooks, 2007).

Underdown, Harold D. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books (Penguin, 2008).

Join the Society of Children's Writers and Illustrators, SCBWI, and read all the information that they provide.

Buy a copy of the latest year's Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market (F & W Media). Study the market information, but also read the accompanying articles that contain practical information and writing tips.

That should be enough to get you started! (And I haven't mentioned the information that's available online!)

If anyone wants to suggest a favorite writing book, please comment below.

--Diane

3 comments:

Andy said...

Excellent advice! How many aspiring children's writers have we met whose knowledge of children's literature didn't extend beyond Dr. Seuss? And that wouldn't be recently read Seuss, it would be remembered Seuss.

I'd add these to your short list, Diane:

Seuling, Barbara. HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN'S BOOK AND GET IT PUBLISHED (Wiley, 2004).

Silvey, Anita (Editor). THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO CHILDREN'S BOOKS AND THEIR CREATORS (Houghton Mifflin, 2002)

Barbara said...

FICTION IS FOLKS, by Robert Newton Peck.

It's supposed to be about creating characters, but it's so much more. If I could only own one book on writing, for kids or adults, this would be it.

Sally said...

Jane Yolen, who has given so much over the years to assist beginning writers, has an informative website: www.janeyolen.com/forwrtrs.html
and a really good "how to" book, long out of print but worth tracking down (I like www.addall.com). First titled _Writing for Children_ it was later revised and published as _Guide to Writing for Children_. Although the world of publishing has changed dramatically, the world of story has not - so much of this book is still worthwhile.