Guest Post: The Process of Writing a Children’s Book

DMR Pic 2 By Diane Mae Robinson

 

As a children’s chapter book author, the first and most important aspect of my writing process involves finding my “child voice”. “Child Voice” is a term in children’s literature that interprets into the author being able to get inside the heads of their children characters; think and act as those children characters would think and act and, thus, be able to write about them with ease.

Through all my years of studying children’s literature and children’s behavior, a major lesson I have learned is that to write for children the writer must have a certain level of immaturity along with the ability to remember the art of play. In my case, this is very doable, and when my friends call me immature, I take that as a compliment that I am on the right creative track. Continue reading

Guest Post: Cheryllynn Dyess’ Typical Process of Writing a book.

CDyess 1My typical process of writing is chaotic. I am not one of those people who need or can even tolerate silence at most anytime of the day. I have three main places in my home where I write – (1) at my desk; (2) at the kitchen table; or (3) in my rocking chair. When I do sit to write, I turn on music just loud enough to break the quiet of my home. Then I am swarmed by my dogs and am battling them for my space and my lap!

I like to have my three-ring binder near for notes to be jotted down with a wooden pencil or pen. I cannot stand mechanical pencils they feel weird when I write with them. A must have is a cup of coffee or a glass of Pepsi nearby. My phone is always close and my iPad usually open with other things going on. Continue reading

Robin Lythgoe on How She Writes a Book

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Robin with the Release Poster of As the Crow Flies

I wrote my first published novel, AS THE CROW FLIES, “freestyle.” I enjoyed the writing itself, but not so much the revisions afterward. I decided to plot the next book, but I dislike the notion of figuring out every little detail beforehand. What I’ve got now is a nicely dressed skeleton. There are points to aim for, but plenty of room along the way to learn new things. I use the Scrivener application, which is wonderful for keeping all the important information in one place—and easily accessible. While I’ve tried using it to outline (it has a great outline view and/or index cards), I found I needed a wider visual view, so I’ve created a monstrous plot board. Okay, it’s only 36×48. It might give me too much room to add my sticky notes!

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Robin’s Plot board

I’ve got the Board broken down into three acts with two sequences each—but in the middle of my planning I found I liked three sequences in each section better. There are the important hurdles to include: the inciting moment, the midpoint, the ordeal, and the climax. I won’t forget if I have them written down! I also have a basic list of points or scenes I want to accomplish in each sequence, which I keep in Scrivener in a “Plotting” folder where I also keep notes of things I might want to include, such as a character list, a place list, a timeline (though I confess I actually prefer to keep my timeline in a spreadsheet), and other helpful ideas.

With the key points in hand, I write a brief sticky-note for each, then start expanding. I use one color for the protagonist, one for the antagonist, other colors for secondary characters. As I add them to the board I can easily see what plot lines and character arcs need attention. As you can see, my current board still needs a little wor, but at this point I want to write and see what comes out of each situation, find out how the nuances I discover will effect the last half. I still feel there’s much to discover about that “blue” character. When I get stuck on the plot I bounce ideas off my awesome writing partner; I really don’t know what I’d do without her!

Then I go to Scrivener and create a folder for each act, and one for each sequence within the act. I transfer those brief notes and expand a little in a synopsis. Then it’s time to write! It looks structured — and it is, to a certain point — but getting from Point A to Point B isn’t always a straight line. I aim the characters in the right direction, and they show me what they’re made of. Sometimes the plot board will have to be rearranged (again), but the ideas are fairly fluid, they are not carved in stone. There can still be room for those epiphanies I have in the shower.

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Author Robin Lythgoe

As I write I sometimes come up against details that need investigating or creative untangling. Rather than stoppingPro the flow of my writing I make a note to myself in the document and mark it with an easily searchable hashtag. Inserting a comment would do the same trick, but I find the hashtag quicker and just as easy to find when I go to Round Two, where I fix the obvious and start looking for the inconspicuous gaffs.

Since I’m writing a series, I use the back side of my Plot Board to create an over-arching outline that covers the whole story. It will have the same key points, but broken down into individual volumes.

In the process of actual writing, I aim for a word count (depending on the time I have and the mood I’m in). Whether or not I reach it, I try to leave my writing with a question in my head. Or in my case, written as the last line of the day. It provides a great place to pick up the next time I write, and I’ll already have something in mind.

Guest Post: A Day in the Life of Kasper

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Kasper Beaumont

Hiya folks, I’m up early today at the crack of dawn 5am. It’s already light here in the Australian summer and I have done a couple of kilometres on my exercise bike to warm up for writing. Warm up for writing? I hear you ask. Yes indeed. Call it brain training, getting the blood flow to those creative synapses.

Now I’m actually lying on the sun lounge in my cubby house, which I know is bad for the posture, but I’m relaxed and raring to go. No straight backed chair and desk covered with notes for this little black duck.

I open my scrapbook and re-read the last couple of pages to recall my hero’s last adventures. I have a vague idea where this chapter is going, but will generally add anything that pops into my head and judge it’s importance later.

I then spend about 2 hours doodling, writing, drawing terrible pictures that I’m not going to show you and adding a few new details to my map. This develops as the story goes along as well.

I like to add notes to my glossary as I go along. Not much of this will be published, but it is important to me to have the back story and descriptions of each of my characters.

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The Cubby House

After a couple of hours of fairly fast and frenzied writing, I give my cramped fingers a shake and pack up for the day. If I have the time I will write more later, but these days I have a full ‘dance card’ and it’s now time to feed the family breakfast and get on with my day.

I have actually 3 editors who all work on different things. I like to revise the book myself 3 or 4 times before it goes to the editors, but sometimes I do get a bit excited and send in a sneak preview. It’s great that I have such a good support network of people who enjoy reading my work and who are so keen to help me. I have a great bunch of beta readers as well and they can’t wait for my next piece. On that note, I’d better get back to it.

Thanks for joining me for the day, cheers, Kasper J