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.
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!
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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.