Dear Writer: I often receive mail from both young students and adults asking questions about how to write for children or how to get published. The answer is not an easy one. Many factors go into writing a good story, but there are a few writing rules about which most authors agree. I have divided the information into four parts. Please click on the appropriate link at the end of this page. Happy writing!!

General Writing Tips -- Part 1

1) Read, read, read. The more you read novels (or short stories) like the kind you want to write, the more likely you will be able to write a good one.

2) Write, write, write. Practice as much as you can, even if it is only a few minutes a day to make a journal entry. Practice does make perfect. It usually helps to read your material out loud.

3) Write about something that interests you. Most writing projects take a long time, so you do not want to write about a topic that bores you.

4) Revise, revise, revise. The first draft (first version) of your work is often terrible -- incomplete and shallow. Go over your work again and again. Consult how-to-write books for details on plot, character, conflict, dialog, etc.

5) Proofread carefully. It's okay for the first draft to be full of errors, but when you are ready to rewrite that final draft be sure to check your spelling, grammar and facts. Invest in a good dictionary, a grammar book and a thesaurus.

6) Enter contests. It will give you confidence and help you learn how to prepare a manuscript. It will also help you learn to deal with rejection.

7) Join a writer's critique group. Even if it is only one person, having someone else read your work will help you make changes for the better.

8) Research the publishing market. Many teenagers have been published. Some useful references are listed in the Reference Book link.

9) Join writers' organizations. The major organization for those interested in writing for children and young adults is the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. It is especially helpful for beginners. SCBWI has chapters located all across the USA. Check the following link to find one near you.
Writing Tips Part 2 -- Picture Books
Writing Tips Part 3 -- Novels
Writing Tips Part 4 -- Breaking into children's publishing
http://www.scbwi.org (Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators)
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Part I
Author Visits

Writing Tips

Reference Books and Links