Monday, October 31, 2016

#PiBoIdMo - Finding the Seeds of Stories

November is Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo). The goal is to come up with a new picture book idea every day. Impossible? You'll find lots of idea starters and writing prompts on the PiBoIdMo site and elsewhere.

Here are some more options for brainstorming ideas. (The following is excerpted from You Can Write for Children: How to Write Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers. The book is available for the Kindle, in paperback, or in Large Print paperback. That book and Advanced Plotting will provide lots of help as you write and edit.)

Take some time to relax and think about each question. Delve deep into your memories. Take lots of notes, even if you’re not sure yet whether you want to pursue an idea. You can put each idea on a separate index card, or fill a notebook, or start a file folder with scraps of paper. Do whatever works for you.

Find story and article ideas based on your childhood experiences, fears, dreams, etc.:

·         What’s the scariest thing that happened to you as a child? The most exciting? The funniest?

·         What’s the most fun you ever had as a child? What were your favorite activities?

·         What was the hardest thing you had to do as a child?

·         What interested you as a child?

·         When you were a child, what did you wish would happen?

Find story and article ideas based on the experiences of your children, grandchildren, students, or other young people you know:

·         What interests them?

·         What frightens them?

·         What do they enjoy?

·         What challenges do they face?

·         What do their lives involve – school, sports, family, religion, clubs?

Other questions to consider:

What hobbies or interests do you have that might interest children?

What jobs or experiences have you had that could be a good starting point for an nonfiction book or story?

Do you know about other cultures, or a particular time period?

What genres do you like? Would it be fun to write in that genre?

What genres did you like as a child? Did you love mysteries, ghost stories, fantasies, or science fiction? What were your favorite books? Why?

Look for inspiration in other stories, books, or TV shows. Can you take the premise and write a completely different story? Do you want to write something similar (a clever mystery, a holiday story, or whatever)? Do you want to retell a folktale or fable as a modern version, or with a cultural twist?

What do you see in the news? Is there a timely topic that could make a good article? If you read about kids doing something special, could you turn it into a profile for a children’s magazine? (This wouldn't work as well for a picture book, but I’m being flexible with the concept here.)

How might that news story work as fiction? Could you base a short story or novel on a true story about someone surviving danger or overcoming great odds?

Even the phonebook can provide inspiration. Check the Yellow Pages: Could you interview an automotive painter, animal trainer, or architect for a nonfiction book? What would life be like for a child to have parents in that field?

Wherever you look for ideas, search for things that are scary, exciting or funny – strong emotion makes a strong story.

Don’t preach. Kids don’t want to read about children learning lessons. All stories have themes, but when someone asks you about a mystery you read, you’re probably not going to say, “It was a story about how crime doesn’t pay.” Rather, you’ll talk about the exciting plot, the fascinating characters, perhaps even the unusual setting. A story’s message should be subtle.

Now start brainstorming and have fun!

You Can Write for Children: How to Write Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers is available for the Kindle, in paperback, or in Large Print paperback

AdvancedPlotting is available in print or ebook at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, or in various ebook formats at Smashwords.

Monday, October 10, 2016

An Online Workshop: Writing Stories for Children #KidLit

Starts Soon - Sigh Up Now!

You Can Write Stories for Children
a writing class with Chris Eboch

START DATE: Monday, October 17, 2016

DURATION: 8 weeks (four classes)

WHERE: Online – work from home at your own pace

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Remember the magic of bedtime stories? When you write for children, you have the most appreciative audience in the world. But to reach that audience, you need to understand the business of writing for children, including the requirements for different genres, age ranges, and markets. You also need to write fresh, dynamic stories, whether you’re writing rhymed picture books or middle grade mysteries or edgy teen novels. In this hands-on workshop, we’ll explore how. You'll leave with a story in progress and ideas for future development.

Your enthusiasm is contagious, and the sheer amount of knowledge you possess is fantastic. Your advice was always spot on. The links to various articles and blogs was and will continue to be extremely useful.
~ Nancy Partridge

I have to tell you that your workshop was the one I got the most useful information from. It was quite informative and introduced me to several trains of thought that were new to me. ~ Donna J. Barland

Thank you for putting together such a helpful workshop.  Of the entire weekend, I think I learned the most from listening to you. Thanks again for such a great workshop. ~ Linda Reedy

Thanks for your terrific workshop yesterday at the SCBWI conference. I loved your thoughts on pacing, cliffhangers, etc. You certainly added to my positive experience! ~ Alyssa Kirk

Just a quick note to say thanks for your class this past weekend.  Your class on Monday afternoon was my favorite.  You gave us very specific things we could incorporate into our own work.  That’s the kind of info I was looking for when I signed up for the conference. ~ Pamela Haskin

Chris is hands-down one of the best author-speakers we’ve ever had. I don’t think she uttered a word about her own life story as many do; she was all about teaching a vital and often forgotten aspect in our writing. The comments on her were full of grateful praise. ~ Robin Koontz, SCBWI Oregon retreat leader


Week 1-2: The World of Writing for Children

We’ll start with an overview of the markets. These include books, magazines, and more. Learn the specific requirements when writing for different age ranges. This will help you decide where you feel comfortable – or give you many areas to explore!

Assignment 1: Read 5 to 10 picture books or stories for children or review two recent novels. Brainstorm 5 to 10 ideas using the material provided.

Week 3-4: From Idea to Story

Writing for children has many things in common with any good writing, and some things that are special. We’ll explore the essential elements of appealing to children. Participants will learn how to develop their ideas:

Identify a market
Choose a target age
Match the story length and reading level to the target age
Develop characters
Create a plot with conflict and a three-part structure
Focus on young characters who have control

Assignment 2: Choose one of your ideas and identify the appropriate target age group and several possible markets. Start developing your characters and planning a strong plot.

Week 5-6: Develop and Share Your Story

Share your story in progress (or a pitch/outline for a novel) and receive feedback from the instructor and the class.

Assignment 3: Pitch your story. Based on feedback, draft a complete picture book or short story, or plan a novel.

Week 7-8: The Next Steps

We’ll cover editing techniques, submitting your work, and your questions. Expect to leave this workshop with a story in progress, and a list of ideas for future development.

Assignment 4: If you choose, turn in your final story or novel outline. Develop a plan for next steps (finishing, editing, querying/submitting/self-publishing your work etc.).

COST: $99, which includes weekly assignments and individual feedback from the instructor. This class will be conducted through a Discussion Board, with the opportunity for students to ask questions and post homework samples.

BUY NOWYou Can Write Stories for Children! by Chris Eboch (8 weeks/4 classes, starting 10/17/2016) Limit: 15 students. Early registration is recommended. 

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR: Chris Eboch is the author of over 30 books for children. Her novel for ages nine and up include The Well of Sacrifice, a Mayan adventure; The Genie’s Gift, a middle eastern fantasy; and the Haunted series, about kids who travel with a ghost hunter TV show. Chris’s writing craft books include Advanced Plotting and You Can Write for Children: How to Write Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers. Learn more at or check out her writing tips at her Write Like a Pro! blog

Chris has her MA degree in Professional Writing and Publishing from Emerson College in Boston. She taught through the Institute of Children’s Literature for 10 years and has led dozens of popular writing workshops around the world.

Chris also writes for adults under the name Kris Bock. “Kris Bock” novels are action-packed romantic suspense involving outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes. Read excerpts at