Wednesday, January 29, 2014

It's the ONLY thing!

Writing for children ....... "It's the ONLY thing!"

While we take a hiatus from our blog, I focus on the reasons we choose to write for children and feel like Water Rat said so famously in the classic, WIND IN THE WILLOWS, when describing  boating to Mole,  "It's the ONLY thing!" For us, writing for children is the ONLY thing.

In his children's book of 1908, Kenneth Grahame creates an enchanting new world for the child reader with wonderful language ("Never in his life had he ( Mole) seen a river before...this sleek,sinuous, full bodied animal, chasing and chuckling....with a gurgle...and a laugh....Mole was bewitched, entranced, fascinated...he trotted as one trots, when very small...") . Here Grahame creates the picture of a lively running river, a new and intriguing experience for his character, and endears his character, Mole, to the small child reader who is also "very small."

In his classic, Grahame creates a new place for children, with well developed characters that children embrace for their familiarity and bond with as friends, brings a story of simple but exciting adventure and carries the reader out into the environment of the nature filled river world and woods.

When Grahame as an older man met with Ernest Shepard who was illustrating the first edition of the book with pictures, he spoke of his characters, Mole, Rat, Toad and Badger. He said, Please treat them kindly. They're my friends.

If we can create well crafted characters that are our friends and become friends of children and bring them to the readers in a unique and familiar setting so children relate to them and remember them with pleasure or use them to understand experiences of their expanding world, it will be the ONLY thing.

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Friday, January 24, 2014


Wikimedia Commons: Photo by Roke.
The end of one thing is the beginning of another, even if you're not sure what the next thing is yet.  This blog is coming to a rest, and I seem to be searching for comfort lines.   I hate endings, fictional or real.

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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Taking a Blog Break


In 2008 when we started The Paper Wait, the social media arena was very different. Blogs were "the thing," and a critique group blog was unusual. The scene has changed. Facebook and Twitter hold sway now and we're ready for a blog break. Five years of thoughtful, informative and humorous posts remain that reflect our varying personalities.

My posts often echoed my writing life during the last five years:

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

When the Character Fits

I'm in the home stretch of my WIP. I've worked on the flow. I've cut out repetition. My dialogue sparkles. But it still needs a little work. I need to make my minor characters as rich and full as my main character.

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Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Heart of the Matter

No, this is not a commentary on Greene's novel. But I will use the title, as the topic has interested me over the holidays.

As a writer, the art of telling a story is always on my mind. During the past month I re-read several children's novels: Robinson's The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and many of Roald Dahl's books, both short and long, among them, James and the Giant Peach and Matilda. What was the common factor in all of these "classics" for children? I think it is that the "oppositional characters," those who provoke the action, are really, really mean, gross and wicked. They are OVERDRAWN. Singly or together the "villains" present obstacles that the child protagonist must overcome, either by his wits or by magic or both.

Today's writers face an even greater challenge than did Dahl; his stories are mostly "telling," and he paints with a large, vibrant brush. In contemporary children's literature, that's no longer permissible. Today's writers are in heavy competition with the digital world that has surrounded their readers since their toddler years.  "Show, don't tell" is now the writer's mantra.

But larger than life antagonists are absolutely necessary. The trick is to create them through dialogue and action, using very little description. That is the "Heart of the Matter."

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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

When writing daily is like eating healthy

I don't do New Years resolutions, but as it happened I made one that pretty much coincided with the new year. I was walking around New York Monday thinking how hard it was to go back there. It's where I grew up partly, and I lived there later, but I have few friends and roots left there. I find in psychologically difficult to go in anymore. Still, I knew it was the right thing to do, and so I forced myself to go in and meet a friend for lunch. I had had the whole week off, but was still stressed from work, even dreaming about it at night.

Anyway, as I was walking down Eighth toward my friend's office, it occurred to me that if I focused on only TWO things this coming year besides parenting--that is, two things concerning me and only me--that I could keep myself sane and moderately content. The first thing was about food, the second about writing the novel. It occurred to me that if I regarded the writing like the food, I'd do well.

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