by Bryan Patrick Avery
Last year, I was asked to do a short presentation on writing mysteries for kids for the Mystery Writers of America (MWA). While I am an active member of MWA and I’ve written and sold multiple mysteries for both kids and adults I still thought this must be some mistake.
Who would want to hear me talk about writing? What would I teach? Where would I start? Despite my misgivings, I said yes. I’m truly glad I did. Now, I tell everyone who will listen, pick a subject and go teach a writing class. Why? Three reasons.
#1 – You know more than you think you do. The first thing I did, after I said yes, was figure out what I wanted to talk about. There are endless approaches to writing. I settled on an overview of writing for children in general and then drilled into the specifics of writing mysteries for kids, including what’s acceptable (and what’s not), what guidelines to follow, and how to make your mystery appropriate for kids, not just an adult story with kids substituted in. Once I finished my first draft of the presentation, I was surprised at how much I actually know.
#2 – It will make you a better writer. The SEE-DO-TEACH. model is a method for mastering a subject. It’s based on the idea that first you observe (SEE) in order to gain an understanding of the subject. Next, you practice (DO), honing your skills and deepening your understanding. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, you pass your knowledge to another (TEACH). By teaching another, you works towards mastering the subject yourself. I’ve found, as I’ve taught more and more workshops (to both kids and adults) it has reinforced my understanding of writing, helped me develop new writing tools, and made me a better, more confident writer.
#3 – You will have more opportunities to learn from others. I love a good writing workshop (who doesn’t?). Teaching a workshop is even better. My favorite part tends to be the question-and-answer period where I get to hear from attendees their thoughts and approaches. I even learn from questions or suggestions they have about my approach. Without fail, I always learn something when I am teaching.
I would encourage you to find a way to teach something you know about writing. There are plenty of opportunities to do. If you’re a member of a writing organization like the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators or Mystery Writers of America, volunteer to host a workshop for your local chapter. You can even do it yourself by using Instagram Live or Facebook. Get out there and share your knowledge with others. You won’t regret it.
That’s all for this month. Happy writing and have a magical month.
At the age of 7, Bryan Patrick Avery discovered a love of reading and mysteries after receiving his first Bobbsey Twins Mystery book. Today, he is an award-winning poet and author of more than a dozen books for children. His middle-grade story, “The Magic Day Mystery”, appears in SUPER PUZZLETASTIC MYSTERIES, an anthology from HarperCollins and the Mystery Writers of America. His Jake Maddox JV Mysteries, OFF BASE and SOCCER SUSPICIONS were released earlier this year by Stone Arch Books. Bryan is the 2021 recipient of the SCBWI Work in Progress Award for his chapter book mystery THE ROBOT IN THE LIBRARY. He is also the author of THE FREEMAN FIELD PHOTOGRAPH, BLACK MEN IN SCIENCE, and the chapter book series, MR. GRIZLEY’S CLASS.
Bryan serves on the board of directors of the Northern California Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. He lives in Northern California with his family.
We are so excited to be mixing things up at CBA, beginning with some delicious additions to the Blogfish. Meet our awesome bloggers!!
Here's our lineup:
1st Mondays begin with awesome Aussie debut author and former student Amanda Lieber who will be focusing on Aussie kidlit.
2nd Mondays will feature super smart Melissa Stoller whose career is taking off with several new books.
3rd Mondays will feature our new blogger coming soon.
4th Mondays features new blogger, the fabulous Brentom Jackson, who has a beautiful approach to blogging.
And 5th Mondays we'll be taking a break