Writing for young children is much harder than many writers realize—that is until they try it! As a children's author and freelance editor, I reveiw children's stories that writers hope to publish. I often see the same mistakes being made by different writers, so in today's blog, I will address those common mistakes in order to help writers avoid them.
This past Sunday, my hubby and I headed to the beach to visit friends and catch some sun rays. But the trip turned cold when the display on the dash showed we had 14 miles before empty. Gulp. Nothing but
The 14 soon turned to 10. We prayed. Then the indicator turned to 5. Then 2. No gas stations, or exits anywhere either.
Finally, the displayed showed zero miles. That’s when I swallowed what I might have said and instead spoke softly. “Honey, God still works miracles.” I fidgeted in my seat. “A gas station will appear somewhere soon.”
“We’re going on fumes,” he said. He was sweating and so was I. We had turned the air off to conserve gas.
As writers who work at our craft every day, we meet the blank page squarely with the intent of filling it. What will we write about? How will we describe our characters? Which facts will we use to flesh out our story and, if writing an opinion piece, our arguments?
But there is another element to writing that is often more potent than what we say on a page. That is, what we don't say. Indeed, the use of not using certain words, descriptions, or dialogue is a potent part of the writer's craft, strong and bold when used well, but disruptive and weak when used poorly.
Of course, omission in writing can get in the way of good reporting and storytelling. If you find yourself asking, "What, then?" or "Huh?" while reading, chances are you have omitted something important from your piece. For example:
"There were three people in the room she wanted to avoid: Jeremy and Phil…"
Who was the third? Or:
"Stubbing a toe is not a leading cause of death in women…"
Okay, then what is?
But omission can fill in the blanks without contributing to the "dreaded" word count limitations, too. An example of well-placed omission might be:
"You sound angry."
"I'm not angry."
"I rest my case."
In this example, you don't need the description, "she said, snapping" or any other descriptor to understand that the line "I'm not angry" was said in, well, anger.
He rose from the chair. "I can see this conversation isn't going anywhere. Let me know when you've thought things over more."
His words still rang in her ears as she watched him get into his car in the street below.
In the above example, you don't need to describe his going to the door, closing it, and walking downstairs and out of the building. Her point of view implies all of that without needing to say it.
Some descriptors can be substituted for verbs:
"He was at least six inches taller than Barbara" can become "He towered over Barbara."
And a character's POV can be pared, too, while still remaining strong:
"She saw tables, chairs, carpets, lamps, china, books, and sundry unidentifiable objects in the antique shop, and then saw him" can strengthen with: "She spied his mop of dark hair peeking through the piles of clutter in the antique shop."
Setimes, we focus on all the things we are going to write onto our blank pages. But, sometimes, too, strategically leaving things out can actually make our writing even more full!
Blessings for the day!
Karen, how did you get into writing?
I never planned on being a writer, let alone an author. A misdiagnosis of lupus forced me into an early retirement. Unsure of my future I asked God, “What am I to do the rest of my life?” God then impressed on my heart to write. I finally said, “Yes.”
Not knowing where to start I began attending writers’ conferences. I met Susan Osborn at a conference and started using her Christian Communicators Critique service. I joined a writer’s critique group and began to learn the art of being a writer. Within that first year my lab tests showed no sign of lupus. I realized God had used that diagnosis to change the direction of my life. Today, when I look back at these events, I acknowledge God knew someday I’d have a passion for writing.
Girls will be delighted to learn they are beloved princesses as daughters of the King. Each daily devotion includes a scripture (Royal Words), a special message (Royal Thoughts), a prayer, and an activity to apply the scripture (Princess in Action). Lovely artwork adds to the joy of these do-able devotions. Young girls will enjoy connecting to God and start a great lifetime habit of spending time with God…