PiBoIdMo Day 10-12… by Tracey M. Cox

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Picking It Up and Putting It Down

So we have these ideas, right? And we want to put them on paper, right? And maybe one day they will shine like the stars we know they are, right? And become a book… YES!

So what is stopping us? Ourselves usually. Sometimes my brain feels clogged up with ideas. Other times it feels as dry as a desert under a hot July sun. *head meets desk* I try to focus on one idea and get it out. Then go onto the next. Every now and then, an idea is really loud and obnoxious and demands to take center too. Writers brains are so fickle!

So here we are. Almost to the middle mark! *GULP* Here’s what I’ve gotten out of the past few days…

Day 10
Dumping It Out

iron-melting-mdI  know I’m not the only one who has ideas, but can’t get them out. Discipline is not in my name anywhere. HA! I don’t have a particular routine that I truly, absolutely, no matter what have to stick to. *I know… bad, bad, bad Tracey!* BUT! I do listen to my inner voice when it speaks. By getting an idea out, I have found others pop up. You begin to notice things and be inspired by them. It could be an animal or a child. It could be a situation or a setting. Who cares if it makes sense!???! Just dump them on the page and see where it goes.

Day 11
Creating Guidelines

One gbullet pointreat way to come up with ideas is creating “how tos”  or “guidelines” in your stories. I’ve done this with an idea today! Yay!!! Not every one thinks the same way or knows how to do this. So why not write about it? Know a child who knows how to be awesome? Or knows how to build the biggest building ever? Writing lists and then giving them plot twist and arcs can be tricky, but in the end what kid wouldn’t like to know the 10 steps in finding the end of the rainbow?

Day 12
Think Visual

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Part of picture books is… *wait for it…* PICTURES!  You can thank me later. 😉 I would say 99.99999999999999999999999% (<— Yes, that is the true number) of the time I come up with a new idea it is with a picture in my head. Character, setting, situation… all are visuals. I then let it blossom into where my idea wants to go. While being a writer has it’s limits, I still thumbnail sketch my scenes, making sure I have enough movement with the text to carry me through pages. As an illustrator, I can add description into the picture to deepen the story, give it a different angle than the text, and make it more concrete for the reader. Pictures are a powerful thing. I’m glad that that is part of my journey as a writer.

So, here I am at DAY 12 with 10 IDEAS. Yeppers, 10!!! Starting to catch up.

:::LEAVE ME A COMMENT:::
Let me know how you are doing?
How do you dump your ideas out?
Do you think visual too?
I’d love to hear from you.

Until later…

Happy Writing!
~t

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PiBoIdMo Day 4-6… by Tracey M. Cox

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Getting It Going…

Waaaaah? Has it already been almost a week since we’ve started? WOW! I really am enjoying each post. I always find something inspiring and another kindred spirit. BUUUUUT the big question is how are you doing on your ideas? Have you got a few? Six? More?!!!? Me… I have three so far. Yes, three. *sigh* I think I have brain rot. hahahaha! I’m not sweating it though. I know my writing process and I know when NOT to push myself. It will come. 🙂 Here’s what I’ve gotten out of the past three days…

Day 4
Never Give Up

TrainEven  if we feel like we have failed… We have still tried. Things happen, dreams and goals seem out of reach, and you become unsure. That is when you dig deep and pursue. I know you’ve heard, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”. This is so true with us writers. Even when you get published you haven’t reached your goal. There are so many levels to continue on.

Day 5
Steps to Inspiration

stepsWhat are the secret steps to inspiration??? Big hint… There isn’t any. *sigh* I wish there were. I would be on “idea #6” today for sure then. hahahha. BUT there is something, and it deals with you. Everyone has their own journey, their own way of writing, their own spurts of inspiration. You have to decide what your is and work with it.  I have found when I try to push things, I only bottle them up. It’s horrible and I become miserable. By letting things flow freely, I’ve become a better writer and am more open to the experiences I have and how I can work them into my writing. Everyone has their own way.

 

Day 6
Character Development

salt-pepper-md

Adding spice to your character is key to great writing. No one want to read about a character that has one layer. Even in picture books we love to see the main character struggle, grow, and overcome. By adding layers to your character, you add interest. Your readers will care more about them and their situations. Plot and structure are important, but character development is key to having a reader fall in love with your writing.

So that’s my take on the past three days. What have you been getting out of it?

:::LEAVE ME A COMMENT:::
Let me know what you think about character development and how you interweave it into your stories.
What steps do you take to become a better writer?
Have you ever thought about throwing in the towel?
I would love to hear from you!

Until next time…
Happy Writing!!!
~t

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#summersparks Thursday Thinking: 9 Ways to Tighten Your Story

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9 Ways to Tighten Your Story

 

Donna Earnhardt wrote a terrific post, Burning Down the House, that covered how reading out loud helps to revise. Then, saputnam had a great comment about how she color-codes her submissions, and that reminded me of another way to revise. Then that got me to thinking of other ways to revise. That lead me to thinking, just how !any ways are there to revise. Here’s my list:

  • Read out loud (thanks Donna)
    This not only gets your brain working, but your ears as well. You will stutter and stumble over words and phrases that are out of place and don’t belong.
  • Read backwards (thanks again Donna)
    This will help see gaps in your plot, where you need to rearrange or add to build the right sequence.
  • Read to an audience (Donna is the bomb)
    This is where you can see how people react. Did they laugh? Was there an Ah-ha! moment.
  • Observe a reading.
    Here’s where you combine watching you audience reactions with listening to the story to see of things are off, Make notes. Don’t have a reader? Record yourself and play it back.
  • Highlight your text.
    Use different colors for dialog, action, passive texts. This will give you a color-coded visual of your story.
  • Cut up text and place in a storyboard.
    This will show pacing. you can see where there are holes and where text !at be too heavy.
  • Draw it out. (thanks Alison)
    You can also use doodles of your text to make sure your story is moving forward and hasn’t stalled out. In picture books, every word counts!
  • Draw a story arc. (thanks Alayne)
    This is also called ‘The W Factor’ or ‘The Heartbeat of the Story’ and shows pacing well too. Here you go up and down determined by the conflicts and resolutions -aka Cause and Effect– of your story.
  • Read, read, read.
    Yes read your story, parts of your story, and then read it some more. Make it flow effortlessly!
  • Set it aside.
    How is this revision?Think of wine, if you taste it right away, sure it will be good, but if you put it away. Don’t open it. The body develops. When you taste it again, there will be notes that highlight the flavor. The body will be fuller. It will be like tasting it for the first time. The same can happen with your story. You will have separated yourself from the text and can see it with fresh eyes. Mistakes will pop out. Things will make you smile. You will get the goosies when you read THE LINE.

So what are some of the ways you revise? Do you have a routine that is different from those listed?

:::Leave a comment:::
Let me know how you tighten a story.

 DON’T FORGET:

You have one more day to finish qualifying for the raffle prizes!!! All entries must be done by Friday, July 11th, at 11:59 pm, est. THAT’S A WRAP post will explain the steps to qualify!

 

Missed a SUMMER SPARK? Don’t worry, you can find them here:

Day 1: In Celebration of Summer Magic  by Kelly Milner Halls
Day 2:  The Power of Doodling  by Alison K. Hertz
Day 3: Cause & Effect  by Alayne Kay Christian
Day 4: How to be a Marketing Ninja  by Corey Rosen Schwartz
Day 5: A Visual Writing Prompt: Begin at the End  by Julie Gribble
Day 6: The Final Word  by Jodi Moore
Day 7: Inspiration Station  by Susanna Hill
Day 8: Voice and Word Choice in Picture Books by Tara Lazar
Day 9: Platform Building Can You Build It? Yes, You Can!  by Tracey M. Cox
Day 10: 5 Ways to Hook Your Reader with Your Very First Line  by Kirsti Call
Day 11: Burning Down the House aka Revision by Donna Earnhardt
Day 12: Persistence  by Donna M. McDine
Day 13: Writing Your Way to a Spark  by Kris Dinnison
Day 14: Hope In Your Heart  by Carol Gordon Ekster
BONUS: What Songs Rock Your World?  by Claire Rudolf Murphy
THAT’S A WRAP!
Follow-up #1: TIPS
Follow-up #2: 9 Ways to Tighten Your Story
Prize Announcement: Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner!

#summersparks Follow-Up: TIPS

Summer SparksTIPS TO FOLLOW A WRITING CHALLENGE

 

My mind is still whirling. What a lot to cover in only two weeks! Sometimes that can leave everything in a jumble. Add several ideas sparking to the mix and you can feel overwhelmed. Here are a few tips I have found that helps me out:

  1. Make a list of your ideas where you can see them all at one time.
  2. Star or check each one that has promise to flesh out into a story.
  3. Look at that group and see which ones are really grabbing your attention.
  4. Pick one or two and start researching, note taking, and writing.

I have found by narrowing them down by importance, I get a better feel for what I want to work on. Of course I have had an occasional loud mouth that demanded attention. When that happens, I KNOW what I want to work on.

Things I also consider before I get too far into my writing:

  1. Has the subject been written about?
  2. Has my angle been written about?
  3. How  can I make my story unique?
  4. What way can I market this idea? (<– Yes, I start that now)
  5. What other layers can I bring into the story to add depth?

There are so many things that come into writing. I have found that the more I do it, the easier steps come. I automatically pull up Amazon and do a search now. My mind starts visualizing ways I can market a book, different ways to promote, and who I can approach, outside of bookstores, to sell my book(s).

The main thing to remember is to BREATHE and enjoy the writing process.

Happy Writing!
~t

 

 DON’T FORGET:

You have three more days to finish qualifying for the raffle prizes!!! All entries must be done by Friday, July 11th, at 11:59 pm, est.

 

Missed a SUMMER SPARK? Don’t worry, you can find them here:

Day 1: In Celebration of Summer Magic  by Kelly Milner Halls
Day 2:  The Power of Doodling  by Alison K. Hertz
Day 3: Cause & Effect  by Alayne Kay Christian
Day 4: How to be a Marketing Ninja  by Corey Rosen Schwartz
Day 5: A Visual Writing Prompt: Begin at the End  by Julie Gribble
Day 6: The Final Word  by Jodi Moore
Day 7: Inspiration Station  by Susanna Hill
Day 8: Voice and Word Choice in Picture Books by Tara Lazar
Day 9: Platform Building Can You Build It? Yes, You Can!  by Tracey M. Cox
Day 10: 5 Ways to Hook Your Reader with Your Very First Line  by Kirsti Call
Day 11: Burning Down the House aka Revision by Donna Earnhardt
Day 12: Persistence  by Donna M. McDine
Day 13: Writing Your Way to a Spark  by Kris Dinnison
Day 14: Hope In Your Heart  by Carol Gordon Ekster
BONUS: What Songs Rock Your World?  by Claire Rudolf Murphy
THAT’S A WRAP!
Follow-up #1: TIPS
Follow-up #2: 9 Ways to Tighten Your Story
Prize Announcement: Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner!

#summersparks. DAY 8: Voice and Word Choice in Picture Books by Tara Lazar

First, let me apologize. My laptop isn’t charging properly and I’m formatting this post from my tablet. Please excuse any and all formatting problems. Now, onto Tara’s post:

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Voice and Word Choice in Picture Books
by Tara Lazar

 

No, I didn’t mean for the title of this blog to rhyme. Sadly, I don’t write in rhyme. So if I don’t bang out a jaunty beat with fancy-schmancy stanzas, how I do inject FUN into my manuscripts?

With my word choice. (Choices? Choice? Whatevs. You get what I mean.)

We writers hear a lot about the importance of voice, but what exactly does “having a unique voice” mean?

Let’s ask some of our favorite cartoon characters.

“What’s up, Doc?”

“D’oh!”

“Curse you, Perry the Platypus!”

 

Now, did Bugs say, “How are you doing?” Nope. That’s too boring and expected, right? Anyone can say that. But the moment you hear, “What’s up, Doc?” you KNOW who is speaking (and crunching on a carrot).

 

Voice is all about your word choice. (Darn, there goes that pesky rhyme again.) And when I say word choice, I don’t just mean how your characters speak. I mean the entire linguistic tempo of your tale.

 

See? That was word choice right there. I could have said “rhythm of your story” but instead I chose to alliterate with “tempo of your tale”. That’s far more entertaining, right? Your tongue gets to tango with the t’s.

 

Besides alliteration, there are other trusty techniques to try:

· Onomatopoeia—BAM! BASH! KA-BOOM!

· Internal Rhyme—“A monster threesome is more gruesome than a twosome.” (from my book THE MONSTORE—hey, maybe I do rhyme!)

· Repetitive Refrain—a phrase that’s repeated so your readers can anticipate its appearance and join in the read-aloud. Instead of a character catchphrase, this is your book’s catchphrase.

 

Also check out word tools, like the book “L is for Lollygag: Quirky Words for a Clever Tongue” or my own list of 200+ cool words [link to http://taralazar.com/2014/06/09/list-of-200-fun-cool-and-interesting-words/%5D.

Contrary to popular belief, you CAN utilize difficult words in picture books, as long as you don’t add too many and cause your reader to stumble and give up. The placing of the word in context helps teach it. And if it’s a word like hootenanny, it’s a heckuva lotta fun to say, too.

I always keep a thesaurus handy when I’m writing. If I stick in a boring word like RUN, I can always go back and consider DART, SCAMPER or SCURRY instead.

(And if you have an iPad, try the Wordflex app. It’s a visual thesaurus that lets you climb word trees and branches with a swipe of your finger.)

Remember these things when your language feels too common, as if anyone could write what you did. You want your manuscript to stand out, to be remembered, to be irresistible.

You want an editor to say,  “Sufferin’ succotash! What a story!”

Tara Lazar

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Street magic performer. Hog-calling champion. Award-winning ice sculptor. These are all things Tara Lazar has never been. Instead, she writes quirky, humorous PICTURE BOOKS featuring magical places that adults never find.

Her debut picture book, THE MONSTORE, is available now from Aladdin/Simon & Schuster. Her other BOOKS coming soon are:

  • I THOUGHT THIS WAS A BEAR BOOK (Aladdin/S&S 2015)
  • LITTLE RED GLIDING HOOD (Random House Children’s, 2015)
  • 7 ATE 9: THE UNTOLD STORY (Disney*Hyperion, 2016)
  • NORMAL NORMAN (Sterling, 2016)

Tara is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency.

Her last name rhymes with “bazaar”—you can listen to Tara pronounce her name on TeachingBooks.net. She’s not Tara Laser-beam (although that would be awesome).

5 Unusual Facts About Tara:

And the not so unusual stuff…

tara3yearsold

Tara loves children’s BOOKS. Her goal is to create books that children love.

She writes PICTURE BOOKS and middle grade novels. She’s written short stories for Abe’s Peanut and is featured in Break These Rules, a book of life-lesson ESSAYS FOR teens, edited by author Luke Reynolds.

Tara created PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month) as the picture book writer’s answer to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). PiBoIdMo is held on this blog every November. In 2013, PiBoIdMo featured 1,150 participants and over 100,000 web hits.

Tara was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2010 and has permanently lost feeling in her feet and legs. She has an inspirational story to share about overcoming a devastating illness to achieve your goals and dreams. Tara can speak to groups big and small, young and old—just contact her for more information.

She’s a member of SCBWI and speaks at conferences and events regarding picture books, brainstorming techniques, and social media for authors (backed by 20 years experience in internet marketing, from the time when gophers and usenet trumped the web). Her former career was in high-tech marketing and PR.

She also teaches for The Writer’s Circle Workshops.

Tara is a life-long New Jersey resident. She lives in Somerset County with her husband and two young daughters. If they had a dog, it would be a small white fluffy thing named Schluffy.

 

Tara is the author of:
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FIND TARA:

Website/Blog
Facebook
Twitter

Writing Prompt:

Hey everyone! Tracey here. For today’s writing prompt I thought it would be fun to give you a set of words. Choose at least three to place in your story.

sparked
ka-pow
crackle
juicy
splash
bounce
sun
fire works
search
skreeeeeee

Happy writing!

Don’t forget to leave a comment and let us know what type of lyrical language, linguistic lingo, or catch phrases get your attention.

 

Missed a SUMMER SPARK? Don’t worry, you can find them here:

Day 1: In Celebration of Summer Magic  by Kelly Milner Halls
Day 2:  The Power of Doodling  by Alison K. Hertz
Day 3: Cause & Effect  by Alayne Kay Christian
Day 4: How to be a Marketing Ninja  by Corey Rosen Schwartz
Day 5: A Visual Writing Prompt: Begin at the End  by Julie Gribble
Day 6: The Final Word  by Jodi Moore
Day 7: Inspiration Station  by Susanna Hill
Day 8: Voice and Word Choice in Picture Books by Tara Lazar
Day 9: Platform Building Can You Build It? Yes, You Can!  by Tracey M. Cox
Day 10: 5 Ways to Hook Your Reader with Your Very First Line  by Kirsti Call
Day 11: Burning Down the House aka Revision by Donna Earnhardt
Day 12: Persistence  by Donna M. McDine
Day 13: Writing Your Way to a Spark  by Kris Dinnison
Day 14: Hope In Your Heart  by Carol Gordon Ekster
BONUS: What Songs Rock Your World?  by Claire Rudolf Murphy
THAT’S A WRAP!
Follow-up #1: TIPS
Follow-up #2: 9 Ways to Tighten Your Story
Prize Announcement: Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner!

#summersparks DAY 5: A Visual Writing Prompt: Begin at the End by Julie Gribble

Summer SparksA Visual Writing Prompt: Begin at the End.
by Julie Gribble

 

Visual learning

In a recent post here on her blog, Tracey encouraged us to include videos in our marketing strategy. MONDAY MARKETING: YOUTUBE  *VIDEO KILLED THE RADIO STAR*

https://traceymcox.wordpress.com/2014/05/26/

“What better concept to get your message across. Let’s face the facts. MOST PEOPLE ARE VISUAL LEARNERS. This means a picture is worth a thousand words (which makes me sad … I’m an author! I live on words). You can tell someone something (directions/recipes/variations of color/yadda yadda), but if you SHOW them…It clicks!”

 

As one of those visual learners, I can tell you her words ring true to me.

Like most kids, I had a vivid imagination (still do) and an active body that always seemed to be in motion (not so much anymore). You’d usually find me up a tree, on a bike, or in the municipal pool – I just didn’t want to sit still. However, I would sit still for a moment to read a book, if that book was filled with pictures. Illustrations sparked my imagination – I’d think up a story of my own that I wanted to tell, and then scribble this version of the story next to images in the book. Upon reflection, I realize now that pictures prompted my interest in writing.

 

Endings are hard

Working in television for many years, behind the scenes on comedy shows, gave me a rare perspective on the creative writing process as skits were drafted, rehearsed, rewritten, rehearsed again, revised, and then performed live. This perspective could best be described as a master class in comedy writing. And indeed, I learned that a good ending, although difficult to write, is a critical element in every good skit or story. I also learned that even the pros have trouble with endings because endings are hard.

 

Using visuals to write satisfying endings

One of the best writing prompts I’ve ever come across, was taught in a screenwriting course. Each student was given a different photograph then asked to place it on the table in front of him or her. The teacher asked us to imagine that the picture in front of us depicted the last scene in our film – it was the last image seen by the audience before the credits rolled. We were asked to describe what was happening at that very moment, in as much detail as we could imagine. Then we were asked to tell the story that ended with that scene.

This exercise made us focus on just the ending of the story – no need to think about how the story might end, because we were already there.

 

Since good endings are hard to write, why not start with them first? So let’s try doing that here on Summer Sparks!

 

Choose your favorite picture below then imagine that it’s the last image in your story – don’t think about how the subject(s) got there, just think about what they’re doing, thinking, or feeling at the very moment this picture was taken.

 

Let’s begin with this image:

**click picture for better viewing**article-1207590-061B1271000005DC-144_634x838©Specialist Stock/Barcroft Media

What’s happening here?

Is the whale happy to meet this skinny walrus?

Or perhaps the whale now believes mermaids are real?

Have the hunter and whale come to a truce?

Or did this diver wish to meet the last whale in the sea?

 

1 – Chose your ending.

2 – Ok, now that you have your ending, tell us how they got there – think about what happened to the characters before this scene. That is your story to tell.

Writing Prompt

So, let’s continue the exercise. Imagine the last image in your story is depicted below. How does your story end? Let your imagination run wild and let the Summer Sparks fly!

**click pictures for better viewing:

ladybug-landing-with-style1© Source Unknown

 

original© Jay Malone

 

Bearbreakfast©ChubbyCheekPhotography

 

slide_326400_3140268_free©Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

 

mantis-bike_2191258b©Eco Suparman

cute-baby-animals-37©Andreas Butz

 

baby01© Source Unknown

 

Here are a few resources to help get you off to a good start finish:

 

Sources for visually-inspiring writing prompts:

http://www.pinterest.com/mseringannon/visual-writing-prompts

http://www.pinterest.com/lilmarbar/pictures-and-writing-inspiration

http://www.piclits.com/compose_dragdrop.aspx

https://www.behance.net

http://thedesigninspiration.com/articles/70-cutie-baby-animals-bring-your-a-good-mood

http://visualprompts.weebly.com

 

Articles on using visual writing prompts:

http://www.carriemumford.com/using-photos-to-inspire-your-writing

http://blog.discoveryeducation.com/eringannon/we-love-visual-writing-prompts

http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2009/11/piclits-inspired-picture-writing.html#.U6jPz15ebud

 

Articles on visual learning:

How Visual Learning Supports Writing | Thinkspiration™ The Inspiration® Software Blog

http://www.inspiration.com/blog/2011/03/how-visual-learning-supports-writing/

“Pre-writing is essential to producing quality writing. Research indicates that skilled writers spend significantly more time organizing and planning what they are going to write.

So, when teachers ask students to create a bubble diagram, a web or any other visual diagram in the pre-writing process, it’s utilizing visual learning to help students clarify their thinking and organize their writing.”

Sensory Learning Styles | Grapplearts

http://www.grapplearts.com/Blog/2012/04/sensory-learning-styles

“Visual learners prefer to watch demonstrations and will often get a lot out of video taped instruction as well. You can sometimes tell you’re dealing with a visual learner when they ask, “Can I see that again?” Other types of learners would ask if you could do it again, or explain it again, but visual learners will often say they want to see it. It’s just a little sign that the person you’re coaching may be a visual learner.”

 

Articles on good endings:

How to Write Successful Endings | WritersDigest.com

http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/improve-my-writing/how_to_write_successful_endings

“The most-asked question when someone describes a novel, movie or short story to a friend probably is, “How does it end?” Endings carry tremendous weight with readers; if they don’t like the ending, chances are they’ll say they didn’t like the work. Failed endings are also the most common problems editors have with submitted works.

Making your ending a success involves two things. The first is content; the events of the ending must satisfy everything that has gone before. There’s no easy way to tell anyone how to do this; it depends entirely on what the work has seemed to promise the reader. Whatever that was must be delivered.”

Teaching That Makes Sense!

www.ttms.org/PDFs/01%20Writing%20Strategy%20Guide%20v001%20(Full).pdf

 

“• Feel finished. A good ending has a certain feel to it, and that feeling is one of completeness: there’s nothing else the writer needs to say, the piece has been wrapped up, summed up, and tied up so completely that the reader feels completely satisfied.

• Give the reader something to think about or do. Readers like to ponder a bit at the end of a piece, they like to have something to consider, something to reflect on, something to take with them for the future. Ideally, your ideas will linger in their mind long after they’ve read your last sentence. That’s the test of truly effective writing.

• Meet your reader’s expectations. With the beginning and middle of your piece, you’ve set up certain expectations in the minds of your readers. Your ending has to live up to those expectations, it has to fulfill the promise of everything that has come before.

• Too often, readers feel let down by the ending. And that can ruin their entire experience of a piece. It’s not that readers are mean people with impossibly high standards. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Your readers want you to have a great ending so badly that they often can’t help but disappoint themselves. This is just another reason why endings are so important and why good endings are so hard to write.

• The ending is the last thing your audience will read. As we’ve talked about before, you have a lot of responsibility when it comes to ending your piece effectively. After all, the ending is the last thing your readers will read and that means they’re quite likely to remember it better than other parts of your piece. But this means you have an opportunity, too. You can use your ending to say something very important with the knowledge that your readers will be listening closely to your every word. There are only two places where you can count on having your reader’s full attention. One is at the beginning, the other is at the end.”

 

Photo Credits:

 

JULIE GRIBBLE

Julie Gribble

 

After 19 years and 2 Emmy nominations, Julie left a successful career at NBC Universal to launch New York Media Works. As an award winning children’s book author, screenwriter, and independent filmmaker, she provides narrative fiction and documentary content for NYMW projects. She enjoys collaborating with other artists and bringing creative people together.

Julie was the first picture book author accepted into the Stony Brook Southampton Children’s Literature Fellows program and has been mentored by Emma Walton Hamilton and Cindy Kane Trumbore. She’s a full-time writer and a member of BAFTA-NY Children’s Committee, SCBWI, ChLA, and is founder of KidLit TV an online visual resource for the greater kid lit community which launches in the Fall.

Julie and Tracey run KidLit TV’s Facebook group – Join us!  https://www.facebook.com/ groups/KidLitTV
Julie is the author of:
Bubble Gum Princess

Bubble Gum Princess

 

FIND JULIE:

Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter

 

Julie is giving away one copy of BUBBLE GUM PRINÇESS. Go ”HERE” for your chance to win.

:::LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW:::
Let us know if you are more visual.
What other things can you do to get the juices going? Listening to music? Take a walk? Take a shower?

 

 

Missed a SUMMER SPARK? Don’t worry, you can find them here:

Day 1: In Celebration of Summer Magic  by Kelly Milner Halls
Day 2:  The Power of Doodling  by Alison K. Hertz
Day 3: Cause & Effect  by Alayne Kay Christian
Day 4: How to be a Marketing Ninja  by Corey Rosen Schwartz
Day 5: A Visual Writing Prompt: Begin at the End  by Julie Gribble
Day 6: The Final Word  by Jodi Moore
Day 7: Inspiration Station  by Susanna Hill
Day 8: Voice and Word Choice in Picture Books by Tara Lazar
Day 9: Platform Building Can You Build It? Yes, You Can!  by Tracey M. Cox
Day 10: 5 Ways to Hook Your Reader with Your Very First Line  by Kirsti Call
Day 11: Burning Down the House aka Revision by Donna Earnhardt
Day 12: Persistence  by Donna M. McDine
Day 13: Writing Your Way to a Spark  by Kris Dinnison
Day 14: Hope In Your Heart  by Carol Gordon Ekster
BONUS: What Songs Rock Your World?  by Claire Rudolf Murphy
THAT’S A WRAP!
Follow-up #1: TIPS
Follow-up #2: 9 Ways to Tighten Your Story
Prize Announcement: Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner!

#summersparks DAY 2: The Power of Doodling by Alison Hertz

Summer Sparks

The Power of Doodling
By: Alison Hertz

 

When Tracey asked me to create a blog post for the Summer Sparks Challenge, I knew that I had to share the power of doodling. I am a writer and an artist and over the years whether I’ve considered myself “a writer who likes to draw” or an “artist who enjoys writing” has flip flopped many times. What has been consistent throughout my life is using the art of doodling to both help spark creative flow and to “see” my characters and my story develop.

 

Whether or not you’ve ever used your writing tools (pen, pencil, computer) to doodle, it’s not too late to start. There is no drawing skill required for doodling and you might surprise yourself. You may have seen Sunny Brown on TED talks about the Power of Doodling and if you missed it, you can click on this link: https://www.ted.com/talks/sunni_brown. Her point and mine is that the act of letting your pencil flow across the page gets areas of your brain active and helps you tap into your creativity mind.

I have three different ways for you to use doodling when you sit to write a picture book or any other genre of your choice:

 

#1 Before you write, doodle. Sit down with a piece of notebook paper and just draw loopty-loos down the rows – this is a pre-cursive exercise that a child learning to write might be asked to do in school. Create rows of circles, wiggles, zig-zags, and arcs. Draw slow flowing lines across your page while your mind thinks about your characters and your story. Let your mind wander and don’t think about what your pencil is creating on the page. See your story unfold in your mind. Then begin writing.

 

#2 See your Character – What is she or he like? I don’t just mean physical characteristics like glasses or curly hair (unless these are essential parts of this character). I’m referring to how your character represents him or herself. Does she stands in a slumpy position or does she stand confidently? Doodle. Does he have something sticking out of his pocket that is a hint of more information about this character? Doodle. Does your character look down at his toes afraid of the world or look to sky ready for any challenge. What does your character eat? Doodle it. What does his bedroom look like? Doodle it. Who are his or her friends? What does your character like to do? Doodle all of these things. Doodles are super loose sketches for your eyes only. None of these things might end up in your book but all of them are important to getting to know your character.

 

#3 See your Story – Write a scene and then doodle something from it. Doodle an object, character, action, or setting from that scene or the next one. These doodles are for you so if you draw an oval to represent one character and a rectangle to represent another, that’s fine. This isn’t an art contest and it isn’t about how realistic you can draw a setting for your scene. Stick figures and geometric shapes are totally acceptable for doodling. Whatever you draw will not only help you see what is showing in the scene, “seeing your story” will help you reduce or tighten your word count. For Picture Books writers – if your character is wearing a hat, your text doesn’t need to describe it and if he or she is standing in a kitchen or a playground or anywhere else, your text never needs to describe your setting because the illustrator will show it. For Chapter Book and Novel writers – when you doodle a setting, you might realize that there could be a WHATEVER behind the WHOEVER doing something that will foreshadow a part of the plot. Think about books like Rebecca Stead’s WHEN YOU REACH ME, with all of the details for the story wrap up tucked throughout the story. Let doodling help you find where you can tuck in those details. See your story.

 

There are many books like John Truby’s THE ANATOMY OF STORY and Jordan E. Rosenfeld’s MAKE A SCENE that teach writers how to tell stories the way movies do; one scene at a time. The best written stories are the ones that allow us to jump in and live the story, see it all around us, be a part of it, and get to know the characters. Doodling (even blobs and stick figures) can help you to see your characters and your story before you write and while you write.

 

Alison Hertz

Alison K. Hertz

 

a.k.a.

juggling reading wire

Q&A about Alison…

Did you always want to be an author?
    I began writing stories when I was nine years old at summer camp. At the end of each day, I would jot down a few sentences about the crazy activities we did and then make up different endings.

When did you start drawing?
    I have been drawing since I could hold a crayon. My teachers in elementary school thought that I wasn’t paying attention in class because I was so busy drawing the characters on the posters that decorated the room. Hey teachers, I was listening. I was just drawing, too.

What is your favorite media to work with?
    I love to draw with blue colored pencils. When I studied architecture and city planning in college, we were taught to sketch with non-photo blue so it would not show when we made copies. When I studied toy design, I sketched everything in blue pencils; beginning my drawings with light blue and working darker as the drawing became more defined. Now I use my blue sketches as the bottom layer in Sketchbook Pro on my computer.

Where do you come up with your story ideas?
    I’ve always worn many hats. I have been a circus performer, toy designer, camp director, teacher, author, illustrator, and a mom. There are many stories to create from my own experiences as well as from the silly things that I see happening around me everyday. If you don’t see stories unfolding around you, spend some time anywhere that kids hang out.

What made you decide to try to get your stories and your artwork published?
    I want to share my stories with lots of kids. The more giggles, the better. I also would love to hear that my stories inspire kids to read. Reading takes you on adventures and educates your mind about anything and everything you ever wanted to know.

Circus? Toy Designer? Really?
    Yes, I performed in the circus when I was 12-16 years old and yes, I designed hundreds of toys that were sold in major retail stores. I believe in Carpe Diem – Seize the Day. If there is something you want to learn to do – do it. Maybe you want to play piano, learn to speak Spanish, hike the Grand Canyon, learn how to play tennis, … If it’s legal and it’s safe, go for it.

Alison is the author of:

5636063_origFlap!

FIND ALISON HERTZ:

Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter

Writing Prompt

I host a daily drawing challenge called

Doodle Day LogoDoodle Day and the group and daily prompts are on Facebook. Whether you are someone who doesn’t think they can draw a straight line with a ruler or a professional artist, Doodle Day is a place to get the create juices flowing and it just might spark your next great idea.   CLICK ON THE DOODLE DAY LOGO to join Alison’s group and get loads of prompts!

 

Missed a SUMMER SPARK? Don’t worry, you can find them here:

Day 1: In Celebration of Summer Magic  by Kelly Milner Halls
Day 2:  The Power of Doodling  by Alison K. Hertz
Day 3: Cause & Effect  by Alayne Kay Christian
Day 4: How to be a Marketing Ninja  by Corey Rosen Schwartz
Day 5: A Visual Writing Prompt: Begin at the End  by Julie Gribble
Day 6: The Final Word  by Jodi Moore
Day 7: Inspiration Station  by Susanna Hill
Day 8: Voice and Word Choice in Picture Books by Tara Lazar
Day 9: Platform Building Can You Build It? Yes, You Can!  by Tracey M. Cox
Day 10: 5 Ways to Hook Your Reader with Your Very First Line  by Kirsti Call
Day 11: Burning Down the House aka Revision by Donna Earnhardt
Day 12: Persistence  by Donna M. McDine
Day 13: Writing Your Way to a Spark  by Kris Dinnison
Day 14: Hope In Your Heart  by Carol Gordon Ekster
BONUS: What Songs Rock Your World?  by Claire Rudolf Murphy
THAT’S A WRAP!
Follow-up #1: TIPS
Follow-up #2: 9 Ways to Tighten Your Story
Prize Announcement: Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner!

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