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Tips For Young Writers

                               
Congratulations on your writing!  It’s fun and rewarding to create stories, articles, and poems.  
Here are a few hints that might help you write even better stories, articles, and poems!

1.  PRE-WRITING: Getting Started
2. 
DRAFTING: Ready To Write
3.  REVISING: Making It Even Better
4. 
EDITING:  The Nitty-Gritty
5.  PUBLISHING: Going Public

1.  PRE-WRITING: Getting Started

Ideas are everywhere!  Just be sure you have a place to write down your ideas as they come to you.  You don’t want to forget a great idea!  The thing to remember at this stage is that the more ideas you brainstorm the better.  Here are some ways to tickle your creativity!

  • Look in your everyday life for ideas.  Do you have a pet that does silly things?  Do you have an interesting person in your neighborhood?  Has something exciting happened in your family?
  • Browse through the newspaper for interesting people, events, settings, and issues.
  • Ask, "What if?" over and over again and see what ideas pop into your head.
  • Interview your mom or dad about what it was like when they were kids.
  • Use a book or movie as a stepping stone for your own ideas.

2.  DRAFTING: Ready To Write

After you've generated LOTS of ideas, focus on the ones that sound like the most fun, interesting, and original (different from what others writers are writing).  Once you’ve chosen an idea, you’re ready for the creative writing part.

  • Write a lot and write fast.
  • Focus on one of your ideas and then keep asking "What if..." to build a cause-effect plot line that builds in suspense.
  • Don't worry about grammar or spelling during the creativity part of the writing process.
  • Ignore any "skunky" voices saying your writing stinks.
  • If you get stumped, close your eyes and imagine your story unfolding like a movie.  Once you’ve day-dreamed the scene, open your eyes and write down everything.
  • Most of all, have fun!  If you really enjoy your writing it will show in the writing!

3.  REVISING: Making It Even Better

Whew!  Creating the draft is like running a race.  You keep sprinting toward the finish line and once you’re there you fall over gasping for breath, ready for a break.  But unlike a race, you’re not finished just because you’ve come to the end of your piece.  Actually, the most important part of writing comes AFTER you’ve finished the first draft.  Then it’s time to go back and revise and edit so that your story is polished and effective.  You want your writing to captivate so that readers can’t put it down.  How do you do that?

  • Try writing a one- or two-line summary of your writing piece on a sticky note. (Example:  "This is about...")  Put the sticky note on top of your page(s).  Then read through your piece to determine if everything on your page(s) is focused on, or ‘sticks’ to that brief summary.  (If you’re having trouble, read your piece to a friend and ask THEM to summarize it with one sentence.  If your friend can’t do it then you’ve lost the focus and you might want to reread and figure out why your piece is so confusing.)
  • Read your piece to a friend or parent.  After each sentence, have your friend or parent ask "Why?" or "How?"  If you can answer their "why" or "how" question then you might be able to add those details to your piece.
  • Look for places where you TELL instead of SHOW.  Hint: Telling sentences often use the verb 'is', 'was', or 'am' (Examples:  She was pretty; I am mad; The dog was fast.)  Instead of TELLING try SHOWING by using dialogue, action, and/or description.  To help out, you might want to highlight all those TELLING sentences.  Then brainstorm with a friend ways you can SHOW instead.
  • Add interesting details, dialogue, and description.
  • Make sure your sentences flow.  It helps if your sentences are different lengths.  If they’re all the same length your writing sounds choppy.  If they’re all too long the reader gets lost in the words and loses the point of your writing.
  • Rewrite parts to make them more exciting, funny, suspenseful, or persuasive.
  • Add page and chapter hooks that make the readers want to keep reading.
  • Replace dull words with powerful and punchy words that make your writing sparkle!

4.  EDITING:  The Nitty-Gritty

Finally, you don’t want readers to stumble over silly things like spelling and punctuation.  Those things aren’t important when you’re doing the creative part of drafting, but they’re imperative as you finish your piece.  Anything that makes it easier to read will help the reader get to the essence of your writing!

  • Check and recheck to make sure you’ve spelled words correctly.
  • Use quotation marks around dialogue.
  • Punctuate sentences with capital letters and end marks.
  • Break your writing into sensible chunks—or paragraphs.

5.  PUBLISHING: Going Public

Writing in itself is very rewarding.  Just seeing your characters and their lives unfold on the page is exciting.  Of course, it’s also nice to share your writing with others.  In other words, publishing!  

Actually, any time you share—or go public—with your writing you are publishing.

Quick ways to publish include:

  • Reading your story, article, or poem to a friend or group.
  • Posting your piece on a bulletin board.
  • Including your writing on your personal Web page.
  • Making your piece into a book and donating it to your school or public library.
  • Presenting your story, article, or poem as a gift to someone special.
  • Entering your writing in a contest.

Publishing on a larger scale requires a bit more.  Businesses that publish books and magazines usually have very specific guidelines for how to submit (send) writing in for possible publication.  The best way to find out their requirements is to go to their Web sites or to check a source like the Writer’s Digest CHILDREN’S WRITER’S AND ILLUSTRATOR’S MARKET guide.  You can find it in the writing or reference sections of book stores and libraries.

Some companies do not accept work written by children, but there are many publishers that do.  With the help of an adult, you might try an Internet search on "Publishers" and "Children’s Writing".  There you will discover sites and companies that encourage children writers such as:

Just remember, before you do any kind of publishing you need to make sure your story, article, or poem is as good as it can be.

One more thing.  Once you’ve sent your work out to be read by the world, it’s time to move on to the next story so have your journal ready to begin writing again!

Good luck!

Marcia Thornton Jones

HOME MY BOOKS
ORDER HERE!
 VIDEOS  &
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TIPS FOR
YOUNG WRITERS
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ABOUT ME

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