Here are a few basics I gleaned at Oklahoma SCBWI Conferences.
- Set realistic writing goals. A paragraph a day is better than writing pages every 2 or 3 weeks.
- Start with a hook.
- Show don’t tell. Telling: Jimmy felt afraid. Showing: Jimmy’s hands shook and his hair stood on end.
- Read the kind of books you want to write.
- Put your story into a sentence stating the character and the conflict. ___________overcomes ________.
- Point of View is driven by the story not the writer. You may need to rewrite your manuscript in different POV to see what is best.
- Don’t use adverbs.
- Use specific nouns. Use Pines not trees.
- Use active verbs. Sang is stronger than was singing.
- Be careful when writing in first person. Every word has to come from the character’s mouth and has to show the character’s personality.
- Do not overuse figurative language such as alteration, similes and metaphors.
- Voice is the spirit of the story. It is a combination of dialog narrative, characterization and writing style.
- Plot out your story arc.
- For picture books, make a picture book dummy to see pacing.
- Word count for picture books should be under 300 words.
- Leave room for the illustrator when writing picture books.
This is just the tip if the iceberg. If you are serious about writing for children, these conferences are worth your time and money. For more details go to http://www.scbwi.org and click on the Oklahoma region.