Hi! I thought that this week I'd share my writing process for 'Where Can We Have The Party?' with you.
All stories start with an idea. 'Where Can We Have The Party?' came to me when I was a child and this idea never let me go.
- Take a course in writing. Starting in 1988, I took two courses from The Institute of Children’s Literature. I wanted to learn how to write this story down properly so a publisher would accept it. There, I learned how to outline a story.
- Outline. I did outline “Where Can We Have The Party?” I would suggest anyone who wants to try their hand at writing to do both: be a panzer. That is, just write down the story as it comes to you (this is called free writing), then do your formal outlining.
- Make a book dummy. This is time consuming, but it really helps you catch those mistakes! You do this by taking several sheets of blank notebook paper or copy paper and printing out your manuscript and fold them all in half. Don’t forget leaving pages for the title, copyright, and dedication pages! Take your manuscript and cut it how you think each page would be. It also helps you catch where your flow breaks, where your characters don’t speak or act natural, or where you forgot something. Your errors stick out like a sore thumb, then. For exact instructions on how to make a book dummy go here.
- Repeat. ‘Where Can We Have The Party?’ is written for 4-8. You have to have a certain phrase or word and repeat it 3-4 times throughout the book. For ages younger than that, you repeat a lot more!
- The Rule of Three. What I mean by this is after you state the problem, have the main character try three times to reach the goal and fail finally trying again and succeeding. For the age group of 4-8, you keep it simple. I did the power of three with Giraffe asking his three friends, having all of their ideas fail.
- Join a critique group. Critique groups are so valuable giving you great feedback. They also pick up some minor problem and give you suggestions for fixing it. If your area doesn’t have a physical critique group, you can easily find one online. Go to your favorite search engine and search “children’s writers critique groups.”
- Get it professionally edited. Before I started submitting, ‘Where Can We Have The Party?’ I had it professionally edited before sending out into the world. I fully recommend getting your story or article edited. Freelance editors are just as good but much cheaper than the editors who do it for a full-time job! To find editors or freelance editors, do a search on your favorite search engine.
- Let it rest. Put it away and do something else for a few days or whatever time you think is best, and tape record it, read it aloud, or read it to your pet (don’t laugh, it works)! This helps you to hear the mistakes.
- Listen to your feelings. I used this story as an assignment for The Institute of Children’s Literature. I sent it in with the talking animals and they loved it. Except, that it had talking animals. They suggested re-writing it with children as main characters since publishers weren’t accepting books with talking animals. Well, I made the changes, sent it back to them, and they were thrilled with it!
Well, during that time, publishers weren’t accepting stories with talking animals. This is why ICL asked me to re-write the story with human kids. That taught me something. Always listen to your feelings when it comes to writing. That’s the story talking to you. It told me it didn’t want to have human kids for characters.
'Where Can We Have The Party?' and every other story or article I've written has gone through the same process.