Saturday, April 27, 2019

Developing an Idea - Quick #Writing tips #amwriting


I hope these quick writing tips helps you jumpstart your writing!

This series on Developing Ideas  is excerpted from You Can Write for Children: How to Write Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers. Grab the book if you want to see all the info at once. 

Once you have your idea, it’s time to develop it into an article, short story, or longer project.

A girl wins the Boy Scout soapbox derby?
Interesting premise, but then what….
If you have a “great idea,” but can’t seem to go anywhere with it, you probably have a premise rather than a complete story plan. (See more posts on finding ideas.)

A story should have three parts: beginning, middle, and end (plus title and possibly bonus material). This can be a bit confusing though. Doesn’t every story have a beginning, middle, and end? It has to start somewhere and end at some point, and other stuff is in the middle. Beginning, middle, and end!

Technically, yes, but certain things should happen at those points.

Basic Story Structure


1. The beginning introduces a character with a problem or a goal.

2. During the middle of the story, that character tries to solve the problem or reach the goal. He probably fails a few times and has to try something else. Or he may make progress through several steps along the way. He should not solve the problem on the first try, however.

3. At the end, the main character solves the problem himself or reaches his goal through his own efforts.

You may find exceptions to these standard story rules, but it’s best to stick with the basics until you know and understand them. They are standard because they work!

Teachers working with beginning writers often see stories with no conflict – no problem or goal. The story is more of a “slice of life.” Things may happen, possibly even sweet or funny things, but the story does not seem to have a clear beginning, middle, and end; it lacks structure. Without conflict, the story is not that interesting.

Developing Your Conflict


You can have two basic types of conflict. An external conflict is something in the physical world. It could be a problem with another person, such as a bully at school, an annoying sibling, a criminal, or a fantastical being such as a troll or demon. External conflict would also include problems such as needing to travel a long distance in bad weather.

In The Well of Sacrifice, set in ninth-century Mayan Guatemala, the young heroine is trying to stop an evil high priest from taking over her city.

In the Haunted series, about kids who travel with a ghost hunter TV show, a brother and sister are trying to understand and help the ghosts.

The other type of conflict is internal. This could be anything from fear of the dark to selfishness. It’s a problem within the main character that she has to overcome or come to terms with.

An internal conflict is often expressed in an external way. If a child is afraid of the dark, we need to see that fear in action. If she’s selfish, we need to see how selfishness is causing her problems. Note that the problems need to affect the child, not simply the adults around her. If a parent is annoyed or frustrated by a child’s behavior, that’s the parent’s problem, not the child’s. The child’s goal may be the opposite of the parent’s; the child may want to stay the same, while the parent wants the child to change.

In The Genie’s Gift, a middle eastern fantasy, a sheltered girl goes on a magical journey in hopes of finding the strength to determine her own fate. Her journey is both internal, as she learns about herself, and external as she travels great distances and faces many dangers.

Solid Story Endings


For stories with internal conflict, the main character may or may not solve the external problem. The child who is afraid of the dark might get over that fear, or she might learn to live with it by keeping a flashlight by her bed. The child who is selfish and doesn’t want to share his toys might fail to achieve that goal. Instead, he might learn the benefits of sharing.

However the problem is resolved, remember that the child main character should drive the solution. No adults stepping in to solve the problem! In the case where a child and a parent have different goals, it won’t be satisfying to young readers if the parent “wins” by punishing the child. The child must see the benefit of changing and make a decision to do so.

Stop back next week (or follow the blog) for more on story goals and a different way to think about “beginning, middle, and end.”


Get More Writing Advice

Chris Eboch is the author of over 60 books for children, including nonfiction and fiction, early reader through teen. Her writing craft books include You Can Write for Children: How to Write Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers, and Advanced Plotting.
Her novels for ages nine and up include The Eyes of Pharaoh, a mystery in ancient Egypt; 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, which starts with The Ghost on the Stairs. Learn more at https://chriseboch.com/ or her Amazon page.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Developing Story and Article Ideas - Quick #Writing tips for the #Writerslife


Author Chris Eboch with one of her Haunted books.
I hope these quick writing tips helps you jumpstart your writing!

This series on Developing Ideas is excerpted from You Can Write for Children: How to Write Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers. Get the book if you want to see all the info at once.

 Developing Story Ideas


Once you have your idea, it’s time to develop it into an article, short story, or longer project. Of course, you can simply start writing and see what happens. Sometimes that’s the best way to explore an idea and see which you want to say about it. But you might save time – and frustration – by thinking about the story in advance. You don’t have to develop a formal, detailed outline, but a few ideas about what you want to say, and where you want the story to go, can help give you direction.

Story Structure


You can look at story structure in several ways. Here’s one example of the parts of a story or article:

·        A catchy title. The best titles hint at the genre or subject matter, as in these middle grade novels:

The Eyes of Pharaoh: a mystery in ancient Egypt
The Well of Sacrifice: an adventure set in Mayan times
The Genie’s Gift: a middle eastern fantasy
The Ghost on the Stairs: a ghost story

·        A dramatic beginning, with a hook. A good beginning:
– grabs the reader’s attention with action, dialogue, or a hint of drama to come
– sets the scene
– indicates the genre and tone (in fiction) or the article type (in nonfiction)
– has an appealing style

·        A solid middle, which moves the story forward or fulfills the goal of the article.

Fiction should focus on a plot that builds to a climax, with character development. Ideally the character changes by learning the lesson of the story.

An article should focus on information directly related to the main topic. It should be organized in a logical way, with transitions between subtopics. The tone should be friendly and lively, not lecturing. Unfamiliar words should be defined within the text, or in a sidebar.

·        A satisfying ending that wraps up the story or closes the article. Endings may circle back to the beginning, repeating an idea or scene, but showing change. The message should be clear here, but not preachy. What did the character learn?

·        Bonus material: An article, short story, or picture book may use sidebars, crafts, recipes, photos, etc. to provide more value. For nonfiction, include a bibliography with several reliable sources.

Novels do not typically have these things, but they may contain an author’s note, a glossary of unfamiliar words, maps, or whatever makes the material more accessible and appealing. Classroom resources or book club discussion guides can be made available separately. For example, teachers can download lesson plans for use with my historical novels, The Eyes of Pharaoh and The Well of Sacrifice, on my website.

You don't have to know all these pieces before you start writing. However, thinking about them first may save you editing time in the long run. Definitely make sure you have all the pieces before you submit your work!


Get More Writing Advice


Chris Eboch is the author of over 60 books for children, including nonfiction and fiction, early reader through teen. Her writing craft books include You Can Write for Children: How to Write Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers, and Advanced Plotting

Her novels for ages nine and up include The Eyes of Pharaoh, a mystery in ancient Egypt; 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, which starts with The Ghost on the Stairs. Learn more at https://chriseboch.com/ or her Amazon page.

Chris also writes for adults under the name Kris Bock. Kris Bock novels are action-packed romantic adventures set in Southwestern landscapes. The Mad Monk’s Treasure follows the hunt for a long-lost treasure in the New Mexico desert. In The Dead Man’s Treasure, estranged relatives compete to reach a buried treasure by following a series of complex clues. In The Skeleton Canyon Treasure, sparks fly when reader favorites Camie and Tiger help a mysterious man track down his missing uncle. Whispers in the Dark features archaeology and intrigue among ancient Southwest ruins. What We Found is a mystery with strong romantic elements about a young woman who finds a murder victim in the woods. In Counterfeits, stolen Rembrandt paintings bring danger to a small New Mexico town.

Fans of Mary Stewart, Barbara Michaels, and Terry Odell will want to check out Kris Bock’s romantic adventures. “Counterfeits is the kind of romantic suspense novel I have enjoyed since I first read Mary Stewart’s Moonspinners.” 5 Stars – Roberta at Sensuous Reviews blog

Read excerpts at www.krisbock.com or visit her Amazon page. Sign up for the Kris Bock newsletter for announcements of new books, sales, and more.


Saturday, April 13, 2019

How To Find Story Ideas And Get Started Writing – Quick #Writing tips for the #Writerslife

Jumpstart your writing!

Use these quick writing tips inspire you to move your story forward.


Brainstorm Writing Ideas


  • Brainstorm 5 to 10 ideas for stories, articles, or novels. Then consider each idea in turn: 

1. Focus your idea – be specific and narrow, especially with short stories or articles. For fiction, focus on an individual person and situation, not a universal ideal. For nonfiction, go deep on one aspect of the topic instead of trying to cover a broad, general idea.

2. Ask yourself: What am I trying to accomplish?
Who am I trying to reach?
Why am I writing this?

3. Know your audience – study the genre and age range. If you’re writing for publication, study publisher guidelines. 

4. What do you need? Will you have to do research or conduct interviews?

5. What would make the best place to start? For more help, check out my other blogs on finding ideas.)

With these notes, review your list of ideas and choose your top three.

Who Will Read Your Writing?


If you’re writing for publication, identify three possible markets for each. If you can’t find three possible markets, maybe it’s not worth putting time into that idea. However, if you are writing purely for your own pleasure, for your family, or to develop your skills without thought of publication, skip this step – you can write whatever you want!

Get More Writing Advice


Chris Eboch is the author of over 60 books for children, including nonfiction and fiction, early reader through teen. Her writing craft books include You Can Write for Children: How to Write Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers, and Advanced Plotting.

Her novels for ages nine and up include The Eyes of Pharaoh, a mystery in ancient Egypt; 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, which starts with The Ghost on the Stairs. Learn more at https://chriseboch.com/ or her Amazon page.


Saturday, April 6, 2019

You Can Find Story Ideas – Quick #Writing tips for the #Writerslife


Do you need to jumpstart your writing? 

I hope this series of quick writing tips inspires you to move your story forward!

Maybe you want to write, but you’re not sure what you want to write. Or perhaps you have so many ideas you don’t know where to start. Here are some tips for brainstorming novel or story ideas. (This is excerpted from You Can Write for Children: How to Write Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers.)

Take some time to relax and think about each question. 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 Your Writing Inspiration 


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? How can you make that idea your own. (Avoid copying anything too closely – that can lead to charges of plagiarism.)

What do you see in the news? Is there a timely topic that could make a good article? If you read about a person doing something special, could you turn it into a profile for a magazine?

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?

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

Get More Writing Advice


Chris Eboch is the author of over 60 books for children, including nonfiction and fiction, early reader through teen. Her writing craft books include You Can Write for Children: How to Write Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers, and Advanced Plotting.

Her novels for ages nine and up include The Eyes of Pharaoh, a mystery in ancient Egypt; 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, which starts with The Ghost on the Stairs. Learn more at https://chriseboch.com/ or her Amazon page.