PICTURE BOOKS

MIDDLE GRADE

YOUNG ADULT

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Since Lee uses first-person point of view to tell her stories, it’s her main character’s voice that’s in the driver’s seat. Reading her novels is a masterclass in how to do first-person narration well. However, you can use these techniques with third-person and even with omniscient narration. It’s all about elevating your prose to do more than just tell the reader what’s happening.

I fully transport myself from my reality into the world that I seek to create. In a word, I daydream. Deeply. I put myself with the character, close to the character, sometimes in the character, to taste the dirt when they’re in the dust storm or feel the scratchy bristles of cane stalk whip my face. Then I write it. Later, I make adjustments, because what I have to understand is different from what the reader should feel. Sometimes I have to rein it in or pull back. It’s not always the point that the reader should feel each and everything—but the writer must!  

If you’d like a lesson in the unexpected you’d be hard-pressed to find a better model than Losers. Instead, we’re going to look at how despite (or with the assistance of) all the silly, Heider is able to put an ache and a depth into the stories of Winston and Louise.

“The biggest leap for me in my writing life happened when I got comfortable with failure. I wrote some disastrous things in grad school. But before that, my writing had gotten stagnant because I was too anxious about getting it right all the time. Allowing myself to fail gave me the freedom to take risks and make mistakes. Those mistakes, in turn, taught me how to write the way I want to write.”

As writers, we can look to our settings to provide a wealth of tools to not only add depth to the story but to underline the experiences of the characters, their feelings, their motivations, their desires.

“I love that when I have a question, I can reach out and pick the brilliant brains of other talented kidlit writers. I’m always amazed at how quickly plot or character problems can be solved when you get out of your own head. I also love how willing people are to share great examples of kidlit to use as mentor texts.”

I first heard Emma read from a chapter-book-in-progress, and her voice blew me away. Emma’s writing as such attention to detail, such personality, such emotional resonance. She can write funny and serious–sometimes in the same sentence. Emma’s debut YA novel, DANGEROUS PLAY comes out August 3, and I’m so glad we get a peek into Emma’s brain and writing process. I highly recommend both DANGEROUS PLAY and Emma herself.

Birdsall establishes a strong narrative voice for her omniscient narrator in the opening pages, and then seamlessly slips from one point of view to another without losing the reader.

Soaking up the sun and reposting some favorite craft posts, starting with Jen Jobart’s analysis of Jason Reynold’s GHOST through the lens of Cheryl Klein’s THE MAGIC WORDS craft book.

Dr. Susan McCormick: Accept the unexpected. Sometimes as a doctor, a diagnosis that had eluded me would appear in the night or while I was running or in the shower. These messages from my inner brain were always right. Similarly, accept any magic that pours from your fingers while writing, or any miracles that come while your brain is on break. These ideas from nowhere are often the best.