My Best Advice for New Authors

I sat on a panel over the weekend at the 11th Annual Great Valley Bookfest speaking on the topic of Writing and Publishing Children’s Books 101 for the Indy Author. It’s a really important topic and one that just can fully be handled in an hour. Mariah Clark Skewes and I tackled as many questions from the audience as we could and I’m sure there were more that we didn’t even get to.

Of all the questions we discussed, I really think the one we spent the most time on was the writing process. And that lends right to the #1 advice I give to anyone who asks me where to start….just write!

Too many times, and I can admit to falling into this vicious cycle, we start to write and then we stop to edit. And before we know it, we have either quit because we can’t get it quite right or we get frustrated. If you are doing this STOP! The best thing you can do as a writer is just write the draft. Don’t pause to edit. Get the story down on paper, you can fine-tune it later.

Someone asked well what happens if I make the character green-eyed but later she’s got blue eyes. It happens. Don’t worry about it in the first draft. You will most likely do some major rewrites once it’s complete and this is where you can fix things like mismatched hair color or names or whatever got mixed up in the process. Plus you should be using line editors and content editors who should find things like that prior to publication.

Another way to fix this is to have character mapping. I talked about character mapping in a previous post. In general, this is where you create a list of all the characteristics of each character in your story. How old are they? How tall are they? What color are their eyes? What color is their hair?  and so on. This not only helps you keep track of your characters but also helps you work with your illustrator.

If you haven’t read one of my books, you may not know that my illustrated books are written in rhyme. That’s not how they start. I write the first draft in a mixture of rhyme and prose. The reason I do this is I may not have an idea of how the rhyme is going to work on a specific page. In this case, I write the idea that I’m trying to capture in prose. This way I don’t get caught up in finding the perfect word choice the first time through the story.

Stay tuned for more insight into the process coming soon! And if you have a question about the writing or publishing process, send me an email. Hopefully I can answer, if not I will direct you somewhere to find it!

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