Tag Archives: children’s writers group

We Never Stop Talking

One member of our writers group had just returned from a trip to Holland and he brought chocolates from Amsterdam for us to enjoy. Each chocolate wrapper featured a Van Gogh masterpiece.  

The talking never stopped! Last week the children’s writers group I belong to gathered at my home. 
Three members were missing but that didn’t stop the rest of us from having a great time exchanging personal news, reading pieces of our writing for the group to critique and sharing plans for upcoming writing projects we have just started or are envisioning. We discussed an article that provides statistics on the state of children’s writing in North America. It included facts and figures about the success and efforts of those of us who write for a young audience. We had a lively debate about the article’s findings.  

After the evening was over I thought about why I love my writers group so much. 

Jodi one of the members of my writing group signs books at the launch of her novel Family of Spies

My writers group inspires me. Hearing about the successful publishing track record of some members motivates me to keep trying to get one of my manuscripts published.

Larry who is a member of my writers’ group signs a copy of his latest novel Coop the Great for Mindi, another member of our writing group

My group makes me more accountable. I want to have writing to share every time we meet and that often gives me the push I need to make time for children’s writing in my sometimes hectic schedule filled with other writing assignments I’ve accepted.

At the Manitoba Book Awards with members of my writers’ group. Several members of our group had been nominated for awards.

I know I’ve become a much better writer because of the critiques I’ve received from my group. Recently I was getting ready to submit a manuscript to a publisher. My submission needed to include a query letter, biographical statement and synopsis. For two months I read those documents at each writers group meeting and each time my writing friends helped me improve them, till they were finally at a stage where I was ready to submit them.

Gabriele another member of writers group signs copies of her novel Broken Stone at her McNally’s launch

My writers group gives me confidence. Their praise and encouragement keep me believing that someday I too will get a manuscript published.
And finally, my group provides entertainment and friendship. Before we sat down at my dining room table last Thursday to ‘get down to business’ so to speak, there was time for a lively chat about our families, activities, travels and life challenges.

My writing group at our Christmas party last year

I realize my writers’ group enriches both my personal and writing life and I am so grateful for that!

Other posts………..

In Good Company

Family of Spies

A Writing Inheritance From My Grandparents

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Writing For Children-Not As Easy As I Thought

What a disaster!!  I’ve been doing journalistic writing for most of my life and figured it was time to branch out and explore some other genres. Through my local writers’ guild, I found a group of writers for children that met every other week to spend a couple of hours sharing their work and doing some writing together. I e-mailed their leader and she said they’d be happy to have me join them. 

I wanted to bring a piece of writing to read at my first meeting so I got to work preparing. First I settled on my target audience. I chose the ages 5-10 crowd for my debut piece.  Now, what should I write about? I decided to follow the old adage write about what you know.

My sons and their pet turtles

I would use an incident from my children’s childhoods as the base for my first story writing venture.  At one point my sons had turtles for pets and my story would be about their adventures.   

I was a little nervous after everyone in the group had introduced themselves and I discovered some of my fellow writers were already published children’s authors.  It seemed they had all taken children’s writing courses as well. The other readers had targeted a teen audience for their pieces. I read my contribution last and my little story seemed pretty simplistic compared to the complicated plot lines and dramatic teenage emotions in their pieces. 

The other writers listened patiently and perceptively and were oooooh so kind as they gave me feedback. “I liked the names of the turtles”, they said.  “Children could identify with the idea of having pets”, said one.  Then came the advice couched in gentle diplomatic tones.  I made some notes and probably can’t remember everything but these were just a few of their suggestions.

1. Keep it short. 

2. You need to get to the problem or conflict early in the story. 

3. Writing for young children should contain sensory references- touch, smell, sound, taste and not just visual images. 

4. There should be a good balance between conversation and narration. 

5. Having too many characters draws attention away from your main character.

6. The conversations between characters in a story always need a reality check.  

7. Watch out for plot holes. 

8. Sometimes a true story can sound unrealistic. 

Although I knew my first attempt at writing children’s fiction had been something of a disaster, the feedback of these more experienced writers was exactly what I needed and I went home with lots of ideas for how I could improve my story. 

Next week we meet again and I’ll see what they think of Draft #2.

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Filed under Childhood, Writing