Tag Archives: Writing

Guidelines for Writing Children’s Books

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Many new writers are unaware there are guidelines and rules for numbers of pages or words per type of literature as well as specific ages each category applies to. Listed below is a compilation of some of these guidelines.

PICTURE BOOKS for  ages 3-6, fiction/nonfiction: standard is 32 pages with up to about 600 words. This includes text and illustrations.

PICTURE BOOKS for ages 4-8, fiction/nonfiction: average of 32 pages (can go up to 40 pages for older readers) or up to about 1000 words including text and illustrations. No controlled vocabulary since meant to be read aloud to children.

EASY READERS for ages 5-9, fiction/nonfiction: generally run from 32-64 pages with text running from 100 words to about 2000 words. Geared for children beginning to read independently these books usually include illustrations. Stories should include dialogue and action. Can include a few words per page up to chapters.

FICTION PICTURE BOOKS for ages 6-10: can be up to 1400 words with about 40 pages. Geared for third through fifth grade classrooms. Intended for teachers to use as tie-in with school subjects.

NONFICTION PICTURE BOOKS for ages 8-12: with 48 pages and up to 2000 words, these books are aimed at the middle grade reader. Illustrated with photographs or drawings, maps, etc. they often include sidebar information.

CHAPTER BOOKS for ages 6-10: these average 6,000-15,000 words with 64-96 pages. Most have black & white illustrations. They are short novels divided into about four chapters and should utilize dialogue and action. Characters are usually the same age as the reader.

MIDDLE GRADES for ages 8-12, fiction/nonfiction: usually run 84-150 pages long with about 20,000-35,000 words. Fiction has no illustrations; Nonfiction includes black & white drawings or color photos. Characters should be 10-13 years old.

UPPER MIDDLE GRADES for ages 10-14, fiction/nonfiction: these run slightly longer to about 40,000 words. Characters are typically ages 12-15 with more intense conflict than MG books.

YOUNG ADULT for ages 12+, fiction/nonfiction: most average 150-200 pages with about 40,000-60,000 words. Characters are generally in high school and conflicts reflect situations/problems typical to that age group. Nonfiction explores subject aimed at 8th grade and above.

YOUNG ADULT for ages 14+, fiction/nonfiction: these average 150-300 pages with up to 90,000 words. While characters are generally in high school, some may be older, like in college. Conflicts should still reflect situations/problems the reader expects to have to deal with eventually. Nonfiction is the same as above.

POETRY: Poetry can be targeted for any age reader from PICTURE BOOK to ADULT. Many PICTURE BOOKS tend to rhyme anyway and should revolve around an image or action specific to the young reader. YOUNG ADULT poetry tends to be anthologies or collections and can be more open-ended and abstract.

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57 Links of Awesome Writing Information and Help

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As someone new to the writing industry as of last year, I acquired an extensive listing of helpful links. Here are some of the most useful. I think even seasoned writers might find info here of interest.

If you know of additional awesome links, let me know and I’ll add them.

teen lingo http://www.thesource4ym.com/teenlingo/index.asp book doctor on http://coolstuff4writers.com/BookDrMain.html whole lot of author interviews http://coolstuff4writers.com/Interviews.html read about fav authors or discover new ones http://armchairinterviews.com/ character naming resource babynameworld.com copyright info from the horse’s mouth copyright.gov basic grammar info grammarbook.com best blog for word usage/meanings http://kathytemean.wordpress.com Writer Beware resource sfwa.org/beware International Conference listing http://writing.shawguides.com/ everything about fiction writing fictionfactor.com everything about writing horror horror.org/writetips.htm writer’s resource website and discussion forum dedicated to the romance romancedivas.com supports women writers wow-womenonwriting.com a free writers’ resource listing over 2700 current Fiction and Poetry publications http://duotrope.com/ weekly submission calls to paying markets writergazette.com Association of Author’s Representatives aaronline.org check out new agents agentresearch.com/agent_ver.html find agents easily/great forums agentquery.com Preditors and Editors-Beware of Scams anotherrealm.com/preditors the business side of writing authormba.com chart compares POD companies booksandtales.com/pod/index.php plot tips plotwhisperer.blogspot.com everything about agents and queries querytracker.net up to minutes news about publishing industry writenews.com connect with published or not authors writerschatroom.com every contest the editor can find writingcontests.wordpress.com Q&A section, a job thread and a critique section mywriterscircle.com science fiction and fantasy writers or am sfwa.org share your MS for annotation & chat bookglutton.com give and receive  reader feedback critiquecircle.com online destination for your writing group rallystorm.com Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network spawn.org Janet Reid dissects queries queryshark.blogspot.com Rachelle Gardner gives a lot of helpful info cba-ramblings.blogspot.com Janet Reid’s other blog- tons of resources jetreidliterary.blogspot.com Nathan Bransford- industry info nathanbransford.blogspot.com A Writer’s Guide to Self Publishing http://www.bubblecow.co.uk/2009/10/a-writers-guide-to-self-publishing/ 12 Random But Pretty Good Ideas for Selling Your Book http://www.yourwritersgroup.com/mywritersgroup/2009/10/a-lot-of-what-i-talk-about-here-falls-into-the-large-area-of-intangibles-craft-meditations-interesting-uses-for-your-left-.html 30 One-Minute Tips for Strengthening Your Novel http://www.darcypattison.com/revision/30-days-to-a-stronger-novel/ thousands of links for writers on all topics http://www.suite101.com/writingandpublishing cliché finder http://cliche.theinfo.org/ The Difference Between MG and YA http://www.write4kids.com/feature6.html Lulu Titlescorer http://www.lulu.com/titlescorer/index.php more info on writing for kids than you can stand http://cbiclubhouse.com/ best blog for helping writers write http://storyfix.com/ Website Grader by HubSpot http://websitegrader.com/ A site for writers, readers and fans of children’s literature http://kidlit.com/ Reasons Why Your MS Got Rejected http://www.inkygirl.com/scbwi-2009-notes-reasons-why-your-manuscript-got-rejected/ scbwi Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators-fee based, has conventions http://www.scbwi.org/Pages.aspx/Who-We-Are—What-We-Do Goodreads- Great site for Readers & Writers http://www.goodreads.com/ She Writes a site for women writers http://www.shewrites.com/ Inked-In a community for writers, musicians and artists http://inkedin.ning.com/ Red Room – Where the Writers Are; a collection of blogs, information, networking, videos and much more http://redroom.com American Christian Fiction Writers – a fee based organization with tons of resources for writers as well as local chapters http://acfw.com inkpop-a YA writers’ site by Harper Collins similar to Authonomy http://inkpop.com The Muse Online Writers Conference http://themuseonlinewritersconference.com

50+ Editors, Proofreaders, Copy Editors, Reviewers on Twitter

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Following are 50+ Editors, Proofreaders, Copy Editors, Reviewers on Twitter.  All were found on Twellow.com. Check it out.

Sally Dinius                          @SDinius                             Proofreader

Sandy617                             @sandy617                         Editor

Heilan Yvette Grimes     @yvettegr                          Editor

Tamoor                                @tamoor                             Editor

Terry Whalin                      @terrywhalin                    Communications Expert

Ryan Penagos                    @Agent_M                          Editor of Marvel.com

Ann Handley                      @MarketingProfs            Editor

Dan Howdle                       @NowGamer_Dan            Games Editor

Sandra Turner                   @SpiritLife                          Editor

Jen Nipps                            @jennipps                          Editor

Lee Pound                          @LeePound                       Editor

Maria Schneider               @mariaschneider            Editor

Dee Stewart                       @deegospel                        Editor

Amarantoblook              @amarantoblook             Editor

Ruthdfw                              @ruthdfw                           Editor, Reviewer

Heather Gemmen Wilson @HeatherWilson             Editor

Yvonne Perry                     @writersinthesky            Editor

Norm Goldman                 @bookpleasures.com    Editor, Publisher

Renai LeMay                      @renailemay                     sci-fi/fantasy book site

RJ Medak                            @RJ_Medak                        Book Reviewer

Christian Davidson         @REcessionRoadie          Non-fiction Book Editor

Jennifer Tribe                    @jennifertribe                  Editor, Book Coach

Madbushfarm                   @madbushfarm                 artist/cartoonist, editor

Alice Wessendorf            @awessendorf                    Editor

Blakeovard                         @DidYaQ                             Editor

Bob Spear                           @bobspear                          Editor, Publisher

A2editor                              @a2editor                           Editor

Esther Lombardi               @bookgeek                       Editor

S.B. Redd                             @maverickauthor           Editor

Birdie Newborn                @Birdie                               Editor, Publisher

Katharine Reeve              @kreeve                             Editor

Erika Kotite                         @etkotite                           Editor

Wendy Woudstra            @pubcentral                      Editor, Pub Coach, Publisher

Book Chook                       @BookChook                    Editor, Reviewer

Janice Hussein                 @DocumentDriven         Editor

Molly O’Neill                     @molly_oneill                   Editor (children’s books)

The Fiction Desk              @thefictiondesk              Editor, Reviewer

Lauren Hidden                  @LaurenHidden               Editor, Reviewer

Laura Nathan                     @lnathan                            Editor

The Compulsive Reader @compelledtoread        YA Reviewer, Aspiring Editor

Julia S.                                  @booktweeting               Editor, Reviewer

E.P. Ned Burke                  @nedburke                        Editor, Publisher

Sue Moe                               @Sue_Moe                        Editor (sci-fi/fantasy)

Matt Bell                              @mdbell79                         Editor, Reviewer

DeWayne Hamby             @DeWayneHamby         Editor (Christian pub world)

Michelle Witte                  @michellewitte                Editor (non-fiction)

Lisa Davis                           @LisaDavisMedia)           Editor, Publisher

Kelly Sabetta                    @BettaBookPublish)        Editor, Publisher

Steve Melito                      @SteveMelito                   Editor, Reviewer

WildWriter                         @WildWriter                      Editor, Writing Coach

ForstRose                           @ForstRose                       Editor, Proofreader, Reviewer

Serena Agusto-Cox        @SavvyVerseWit             Editor, Reviewer

How to Figure Out What a Reader Wants in a Story or Book

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What writer wouldn’t love sitting inside a reader’s head as they read a book, whether it is the writer’s or another’s? I would relish knowing what thoughts occur to a reader as they progress through the novel. Are the characters intriguing or boring? Are there too many characters or too few? Is the setting over described or too vague? Should the plot be pimped to make it more interesting or is it already all over the place? Where does the reader fit into the writing of a novel?

Unfortunately, we can’t sit inside a reader’s brain. But we can ask readers what they like and don’t when they read. And we can tell via sales whether a book lives up to a reader’s expectations. But while being written, is there some way a writer can try to zero-in on ways a reader reads?

After giving this some thought and investigation, I came up with the following list:

  1. According to reader desires, a good novel contains these elements, in this order:

Story-must be interesting

Characters-must have dimension

Theme-must be current

Atmosphere/setting-must seem genuine to story and genre

  1. Characters are the reason readers read. If the characters are boring or flat a reader will put the book down and pick up another with interesting, intriguing characters.

The main character must want something specific. Strong desire of a goal defines a strong character.

The main character must do something within the story. If all of the plot situations ‘happen’ to the character a reader gets bored. Sometimes the character must instigate the situation.

  1. Humor helps any story and readers love it. You don’t have to create a comedy, just insert some humor, especially where it’s not expected.
  1. Lastly, style is not nearly as important to a reader as it might be to a writer. The days of ‘purple prose’ are gone. Today’s readers want quickly flowing story with little narration and less description. Don’t eliminate either completely, just be judicious.

Ways to Organize Information Before Writing

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It’s all too easy to forget the name of a sibling or pet or parent of a character who is mentioned once or twice in a manuscript. When you mentioned a character in Chapter 1 and not again until Chapter 12, what color eyes did he have? Can’t remember? When that happens and you want to refer to that person again, you have to reread until you find it. Or do you? Not if you create a spreadsheet before writing.

A spreadsheet will allow you to see all details of all characters at a glance. This helps in seeing whether all character names work together (you never want two names too similar, like Liam and Lenny). And the beauty of a spreadsheet is you can make a master template, save it and use it every time you write.

I create several spreadsheets because I use a lot of details. I have one for Main Characters, Protagonists, Antagonists, Mythical Creatures, Monsters/Beasts, The Holy Order, Map Info. You get the point. I assemble all of these in page protectors in a red 3-ring binder as well as files on my computer. Here are some pix of these spreadsheets and binder.

Character Spreadsheets in Red Binder

The other thing I created that I used A LOT when I first started writing, was a large map on a foam board. I leaned this on a table-top easel right beside me and referred to it constantly. On the flip side I had Character bios.

I hope some of this helps when you start thinking about a topic. It takes a little while to do this, but saves tons of time finding details later.

Detailed Maps of Cities in Story

Map on Foamboard

Besides having map files on the computer, I also draw out the streets of my fictional cities and put them in the binder. I scan them into the computer as well.

Other than the binder, this was the most useful tool I made in Prewriting. It was so useful I took a picture of it and put it on the computer. On the flip-side I had large bios with illustrations posted for each main character. As you can see in the picture, there are additional notes of place names and character names taped to the board.