By Maggie Lauren Brown
When it comes to revision advice, you have likely heard that’s it’s a good idea to let your manuscript sit for awhile so you can come back to it with fresh eyes. Of course, this is true. But there are also strategies to help see your story in a new light without the waiting period. Many of these ideas are meant for picture books, but some can be used for longer novels as well.
First, make sure to read your story aloud. This will help you notice awkward wording, areas that drag, or unrealistic dialogue.
Have someone else read your story to you. It’s better if they haven’t read the story before, and even better if you can find a willing kid! You’ll hear areas that trip them up, or places that they read in a way you weren’t expecting.
If you can’t find anyone to help, Word documents can read your story to you. If you go to Review -> Read Aloud or use the shortcut Alt + Control + Space, Word will read your document aloud. Even a computerized voice can be enlightening!
Another strategy is using the Voice Memo app in your phone—record yourself reading your story and then listen to it back.
The next method is to switch up how you see your story. If you’re used to reading on a computer screen, print it out. You could even create a dummy to see where the text would be broken into page turns. Try switching up your font—you’d be surprised how small changes can help you notice things you haven’t before.
Next, try changing your environment. If you’re used to working in a home office, bring a copy of your story outside. What if you walk around while you read it? Even something as simple as changing rooms can change your perspective. If you’re used to working during the day, give nighttime a try.
The biggest take away here: switch it up! Shaking things up will help you see your work in new ways. Happy revising!
The father explains his adventures (which include alien abduction, a stegosaurus inventor, piranhas, ponies, and time travel). The veracity of the father’s story may be called into question, but the quality of his story is not. What’s unique about this story (besides the rather odd cast of characters) is that, though kids will love it, a kid isn’t the main character. In fact, we scarcely hear from the kids as the father tells his tale, with the exception of a few interruptions along the way to ask clarifying questions. FORTUNATELY, THE MILK is an entertaining tale and a great example of storytelling (Neil’s and the father’s) at its best.
If, by chance, you make it through all the permutations, Lauren has two more books in the CASE CLOSED series, including the recently released CASE CLOSED: HAUNTING AT THE HOTEL. Though you might never write a book in this style, it is helpful to reflect on the level of detail that goes into creating a book where the narrative is in the hands of the reader. Simply thinking through your story in this level of detail can help you craft better stories.
Well that’s all for this month. Happy writing, stay safe, and have a magical month.
Bryan Patrick Avery discovered a love of magic and mystery at the age of four, after receiving a magic set and his first Bobbsey Twins Mystery book. Today, he is an award-winning poet and author, and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and the Mystery Writers of America. He's also a life member of the Society of American Magicians (which was once led by Harry Houdini) and charter member of the International Association of Black Magical Artists. Bryan's greatest joy is making stories appear out of thin air.
By Melissa Stoller
Where I live, it’s still beach weather, although we can tell the end of summer is approaching. Back to school routines (whatever those look like in 2020!), cooler evenings, and a bountiful harvest of tomatoes and corn on the table, all mark the transition from summer to autumn. Wherever you are in your creative process, this time of year can signal a fresh start to your writing routine.
Here are some prompts that can set you up for a bountiful harvest of creativity:
1) Think about your back-to-school routine from childhood. What was your favorite part – maybe it was shopping for school supplies or picking a new outfit? Or going to the library to choose new books? Perhaps it was packing your backpack. Can those memories, or new routines of today, help spark a story idea?
2) What end of summer events do you take part in (even if you are not participating this year). Do you enjoy certain recipes using end of summer foods – how do they smell and taste? Do you take one last swim in the sea or a lake? Maybe it’s one final family road trip before work and school resume? Write about some of these memories.
3) Do you have any mementos from this summer or past summers? Do you create photo albums or scrapbooks? Do you enjoy a seashell collection, some pressed flowers, or a box of other summer treasures? Take some time to closely observe one summer item and use it to spark an idea.
I hope these prompts help ignite your writing life this fall. Let me know in the comments, and enjoy the last days of summer!
Melissa Stoller is the author of the chapter book series The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection - Return to Coney Island (Clear Fork Publishing, 2017); and the picture books Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush and Ready, Set, GOrilla! (Clear Fork, Fall 2018). Upcoming books include Sadie’s Shabbat Stories and Return of the Magic Paintbrush (CFP). Melissa is a Blogger and Assistant for the Children’s Book Academy, a Regional Ambassador for The Chapter Book Challenge, a Moderator for the Debut Picture Book Study Group, a volunteer with SCBWI/MetroNY, and a founding member of The Book Meshuggenahs. In other chapters of her life, Melissa has worked as a lawyer, legal writing instructor, freelance writer and editor, and early childhood educator. She lives in New York City with her family, and enjoys theatre, museums, and long beach walks.
We are so excited to be mixing things up at CBA, beginning with some delicious additions to the Blogfish. Meet our awesome new bloggers!!
Here's our lineup:
1st Mondays begin with Clear Fork/Spork editor/art director, former agent and former kidlit professor Mira Reisberg PhD who is also the Director of the Children's Book Academy.
2nd Mondays will feature super smart Melissa Stoller whose career is taking off with several new books.
3rd Mondays will feature Bryan Patrick Avery, published writer, man of mystery, and professional magician among other things.
4th Mondays feature funny Aussie author Sharon Giltrow sharing awesome Aussie books.
And 5th Mondays will feature Libyan American author Koloud Tarapolsi sharing wonderful diverse books.