PICTURE BOOKS

MIDDLE GRADE

YOUNG ADULT

Middle Grade, Picture Books, Young Adult

Crafting Characters: Getting to Know Your Character Through Writing Your Story

It’s our fourth installment of our CRAFTING CHARACTERS series, and today, we check in with writers who work their characters out on the page as they draft. Some of these authors do use some freewriting techniques, but usually after they’ve seen their character in action on the page, or during the revision process. Read on for some excellent insights!

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In our third post of Crafting Characters, our authors and contributors share how they connect with their character’s traits–whether through pulling from their own personalities, using tarot cards, or looking for opportunities for opposition. Read on to find out their strategies.

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Welcome to our second post in our Crafting Characters series. For some people, working out character before putting pen to paper is the best way forward. Others have characters show up nearly fully formed, or at least with enough substance to have something to say. Those people often make efforts to listen to their characters–whether through freewriting, through scenes, or through meditative daydreaming. These authors and our contributors share their favorite ways to develop their characters. Read on for some mindful strategies for uncovering character and letting the characters speak.

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Title image: KidLit Craft's Comprehensive Guide to Character

Looking at voice, interiority, internal arc, character relationships, and more, our writers have analyzed mentor texts in all categories to discover strategies for creating characters that leap off the page and into readers’ hearts. This list is one you can return to over and over to find just the post you need in the moment.

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HOW TO WEAR A SARI is a charming how-to guide for wearing a colorful, twinkly, silky sari. It’s also a great mentor text for how to write an excellent picture book in 2nd person. 

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Follow your curiosity. Write and draw what you like. Know there are no set rules but it is important to understand the current book market. Picture book writing is all about how strong the concept is and then how well it is executed.

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KidLit Craft Goes to the Movies! The Emotional Antagonist in Eddie the Eagle

Some great stories make use of what Melanie Jacobson calls the emotional antagonist. The emotional antagonist is on the protagonist’s side, but the protagonist doesn’t have their approval or support.Jacobson believes emotional antagonist can be a powerful addition to a book because it gives a story an extra satisfying ending–a resolution with the emotional antagonist. We can see the emotional antagonist in action in Eddie the Eagle (2015).

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Margaret Chiu Greanias’s new picture book, Amah Faraway, illustrated by Tracy Subisak, matches the reverso form with the story of a girl and her grandmother who begin worlds apart (one in the US and one in Taiwan) in a way that enriches both the story and the form.

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Since I began writing picture books, I’ve longed to tell the story of my relationship with my Amah (grandmother, in Taiwanese). Even though we saw each other infrequently, I adored her. But like Kylie, my main character in Amah Faraway, I always felt a bit shy at the start of our visits–due to my own cautious nature, the distance, language barrier, and cultural differences.

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Title: Finding Your Book--in the Bookstore overlayed on an image of books on a bookstore shelf

Knowing where my book would sit on a shelf and what books it would be friends with helped me think more clearly about my revision. When I’m faced with a choice, I can consider what would sit well in the spot I found for it.

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