FOR WRITERS


TIPS FOR WRITING COLUMNS FOR KIDS:

I write columns for children. 
I have been writing them since October 2009!
I sometimes find the hardest part about this is deciding what to write about. 
What can you do?



BRAINSTORM

You can decide to write about something that pertains to that day, week or month the column is to appear. Search the web for events that happened that month. What anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, important firsts, important discoveries or inventions, etc. happened on that particular day, week or month. 

Put a new twist on facts that everyone is familiar with or write about a unique fact that few people know about. Everyone likes to learn something new.

Write about what happens that time of year - the type of weather or the type of activities that happen - picnics, camping, sports activities, flying kites, etc.

Write about something fun and interesting that children would enjoy reading about - hobbies, games, activities, animals, recipes, crafts and fun facts.

Lists are popular, instructions (I did that with my column on Flying Kites), question and answer formats, poems, make-believe interviews.

Zero in on a specific topic. Instead of flowers - spring flowers. Instead of flags - the Star Spangled Flag flown over Ft. McHenry. Instead of butterflies - the Monarch. Instead of winter - snowflakes.

Or combine a little of everything in an article. I will find out something interesting about a month. Let's say I find out that the first Friday in June is National Donut Day. I will write a little bit about the history of the donut (or doughnut), tell about the different types of donuts, and then add an easy recipe for donuts. You invite your friends over for a donut decorating party and read one of several children's books written about donuts.

Just for fun challenge your reader to do something. It can be as easy as writing a poem, keeping a 'tree' journal, learning about their family history or starting a collection or hobby.

Don't wait until the day it is due to write it. You need to let your writing set a day or two and then go over it again and edit! 


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Tips for any type of writing:


Join a critique group!

Read! Read! Read!

Read books on writing. 

Read the types of books that you write (Picture Books, Middle Grade, etc.)

If you intend to write in rhyme, get a good rhyming dictionary and learn the rules - please. There is more to rhyme than having the last word rhyme. A lot more!

Get a Thesaurus! Use unique words.

Use specific words! Don't be lazy -  show, don't tell.

NEVER submit without rewriting!

AVOID useless words, such as: about, just, really, started, very, that, some, only, almost, like, even, pretty, back, up, down, many

For example: 
Don't say she is pretty, describe what it is that you think makes her pretty. 
Up and down are sometimes redundant. He sat down (He can't sit up, can he?) Say, he sat.
Just and That are two of my weaknesses and can almost always be left out of a sentence.  

AVOID starting sentences with it was or there was.

AVOID overused cliches. 

AVOID info dump. 

AVOID exclamation points, unless absolutely necessary.

AVOID predictable endings. 

DO you have a writing tic? Writing tics are words or phrases that you use all the time. Use the find button and check for locking eyes, grins, laughs, pounding and racing hearts, deep sighs, tears slipping down checks, etc. Or maybe you overuse these words: just, that, one, like, etc.


Writing is hard and we sometimes search for shortcuts and become lazy in our writing. Don't say she has brown hair, find something unique about her hair and tell about it (length, texture, style). Do you really think the boy next door has caramel colored eyes? Maybe talk less about the eyes and concentrate on a unique characteristic of the person. If someone is happy, instead of smiling, say she danced in place and her skirt twirled about her long legs.


Last, but not least, download my booklet, The Handy Little A to Z Book on Writing. It is full of useful information on how to get ideas on what to write and writing tips!