Recently I met with three talented children’s book writers. We read each other’s works aloud, made comments and suggestions, while encouraging what worked — all over three intense days. I was the newbie trying to find my strongest voice between YA, MG, and picture books. Having the input and support of peers was invaluable (more on that later).
As a novice in the world of writing for youth, one thing I’ve learned thus far: writing quality fiction is far harder than it appears. Like in many fields, the pros make it look easy. It’s not.
And having a journalism background is good and bad. Yes, I can meet deadlines, put words together in an informative even entertaining way, and edit a little better than some. But I also have to break some common journalistic writing habits. I can’t give everything away at the beginning (crushing my inverted pyramid) and be overly descriptive (telling). I must trust the reader to follow the action and discover what they must, along the way (show). Easier said than done. I’m still trying to figure this out!
Having other sets of eyes, those who are honing their own children’s fiction writing craft, has helped me take a step further in improving my own storytelling. Experiencing feedback from a trusted critique group and giving it, gave me a vision for what I need to do in the following months.
So, E.J., Julia, and Jennifer, THANK YOU! (And you’re all so fun, too. I miss you already!) I wish we were closer to continue what we started. But at least a taste of what we had whet my appetite to want more. My goal in the next few months will be to find a local group that is going through the challenges and joys I face, as we do what we love: write for children.