by Bryan Patrick Avery
At the beginning of every year, we make new year’s resolutions, set goals, and make vision boards. Maybe we want to get that latest novel finished, learn to write in a new genre, or get our debut book out into the world. Whatever your goal (or goals) this year, I’ll pulled a few books off my shelf that can help you get started in the right direction.
Unless you’re a complete pantser (no judgement here), your first step in any new project is to put together a high-level view of your story. For many us, that means creating a story spine. Though often attributed to Pixar, due to its use of the concept, the story spine is actually the creation of Kenn Adams. An award-winning playwright, Adams documented the story spine concept in his book HOW TO IMPROVISE A FULL-LENGTH PLAY: THE ART OF SPONTANEOUS THEATRE.
The book focuses on theatrical improv, but the concepts are applicable to any type of storytelling. I won’t go over the story spine here but check out Adams’ book which not only lays out the concept but give examples of how to use it to flesh out a story from beginning to end. Whether you’re writing picture books, middle grade, or YA, this book can help you create a well-structured story that will resonate with readers.
Even the greatest (and most well thought-out) ideas can fall flat with readers if they aren’t well executed. This is where craft comes in. If you’re looking for a single resource that can help you hone your craft as a writer, check out Cheryl B. Klein’s THE MAGIC WORDS: WRITING GREAT BOOKS FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG ADULTS. Klein brings her vast experience as an editor of books for children to this book, covering everything from rough guidelines on word counts to plotting your stories.
One of my favorite chapters in the book focuses on voice. With a series of explanations and exercises, Klein breaks down creating a maintaining voice in your writing into digestible chunks that will make it easier to apply to your work. If you’ve got a plan for a story you want to work on, or you’re revising something already in progress, check out THE MAGIC WORDS. You will, undoubtably, find something that will help make your writing stronger.
There’s more to building an author’s career than writing. Social-networking, agent-hunting, and promotion all play a key role in your success as an author. Given the complexity, it can be difficult to know where to start. Enter THE BUSINESS OF BEING A WRITER by Jane Friedman. Focused on the notion that writing is a business, Friedman sets out to teach writers who to survive, and thrive, in the publishing world. After setting the stage by showing what the writing life is like, THE BUSINESS OF BEING A WRITER dives into an overview of the publishing industry, how to get your work published, and what to do once it gets published.
I have many writing books in my home library. This is one of the few that dives deep into how to turn a love of storytelling into a long-term career. The section on creating an author platform is worth the cost of the book all on its own. Still, don’t miss Section 5: How Writers Make Money. If you want to turn your storytelling into a profitable business, this book is for you.
Well, that’s all for now. Happy New Year and have a magical month.
Bryan Patrick Avery writes picture books, chapter books, middle grade and graphic novels. His middle grade story, “The Magic Day Mystery”, was published in June 2020 in SUPER PUZZLETASTIC MYSTERIES, an anthology from HarperCollins and the Mystery Writers of America. His debut picture book, THE FREEMAN FIELD PHOTOGRAPH, will be published in Spring 2021 by Clearfork Publishing/Spork.
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 be a total surprise!