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The Give and Take of Mentoring


by Jane McBride Choate

 

The World Book Dictionary defines a mentor as “a wise and trusted adviser.”

So what does mentoring have to do with writing? Serving as a mentor can enrich an experienced writer’s life by allowing the exploration of the craft of writing from a teaching perspective.

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Take the Pain Out of Being Critiqued

 

Being a writer is hard on your ego. First, you put your best efforts (and often your most vulnerable experiences) down on paper for the world to see. Then you had it over to another person to be scrutinized. It’s this person’s job to praise the good aspects of

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How to Find People to Critique Your Work

 

Form a writers’ group. Find other writers who are also working on children’s books and critique each other’s work. You can network at local conferences or classes (go to www.scbwi.org for your region’s Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators), post an announcement at your library or local book

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Exercise: Getting Unstuck

Sometimes we get stuck developing a character, creating a setting, or deciding what happens next in the plot. Here are two exercises to help open the flow of ideas.

           

CLUSTERING

Clustering is a diagramming method for gathering and organizing ideas that you do on paper, a brainstorming method

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Exercise: Is Your Protagonist Worth Writing About?

Part One: Spend a few minutes with a notebook in a public space where children and families are present. Simply write down a few notes about some of the children you observe, what they’re doing, and who they interact with.

Part Two: Pick one of the children to be your

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Exercise: Point of View & Character Depth

Place the main character from your story in a setting that’s not in your plot (the mall, a classroom, your own home, etc.) Write a scene in the First Person Viewpoint with your main character narrating his/her reaction to the setting.

Then write the same scene in Third Person Limited.

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“Show, Don’t Tell” Exercise # 2

Take a character from your book and place him or her in a familiar setting (your character’s room, classroom, backyard, etc.)

Write a scene in which your character moves through that setting, and show that he/she is angry without ever using the words “angry” or “anger”. Now place your

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“Show, Don’t Tell” Exercise # 1

Rewrite the following sentences in ways that show instead of tell. Use action, dialogue and/or the five senses. Try to avoid “to be” verbs such as

is, was, were, are, as well as the word felt which are often telling verbs. Also try not to use adjectives and adverbs.

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The 5 Minute Writer

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Writers have other lives. We must schlep our children to orthodontist appointments, attend Little League games, and make sure the laundry is done. This is often in addition to holding down a full time job that pays the bills. So where does writing fit in?

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100 Words a Day for 100 Days

by Jane McBride Choate

 

 

Like most writers, I need the association of other writers and belong to several writers’ chapters.  One group issued a challenge of writing a hundred words each day for one hundred days.

 

When I accepted the challenge, I was dubious.  What could such

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Exercise: Point of View

If you’re writing a picture book, try using the Omniscient Point of View for a draft to see how the book changes.

Is it absolutely necessary to treat all the characters the same, or can you better tell the story by following one character through the plot? Which will make

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Find Your Passion

Your first step as a writer, before you ever type those first words of your manuscript, is to discover what you love. Only then can you begin incorporating that passion into a book idea. So how will you find your passion? Read. I know this sounds almost too simple to work, but reading children’s books is one