Saturday, September 27, 2008

In the Guardian: How to Write

Even though I have no interesting in writing a novel of my own, I love to read writers' boards and publishing blogs. I guess it's the same thing in my head that makes me love Project Runway even though I can't thread a needle. I like seeing what goes into works of art, and how industry trends shape. Today's Guardian has an essay series everyone who loves children's an YA books will want to read, titled How to Write.

Child's play: Writing for children means thinking about your own past, while staying in touch with young people now by Michael Rosen

Genre in Children's Writing
by Linda Newbery and Meg Rosoff

Characters and Viewpoint by Linda Newbery, Michael Lawrence and Lauren Child

There are many more essays in the series. My favorite essay of the bunch is David Fickling's (he's the man behind books like Before I Die and A Swift Pure Cry): What next? Don't want to end up on publishers' slush piles? Read out loud before you get read. It begins:

Not everyone can sing. Not everyone can write. Even fewer people can sing professionally. Even fewer can write professionally. Do not be like those poor deluded souls who audition for the X Factor and clearly can't sing for toffee. There are far too many hopelessly written typescripts sloshing about on publisher's slush piles. They clog up the system and are a waste of everybody's time, particularly if you are a good writer yourself. There is a mistaken view that writing for children is easy. It isn't. There is another view that children's books today are of generally poor quality. They aren't.

Someday I want to meet this man just so I can shake his hand. The truth is, not everyone can do everything no matter how badly they want to. We all have talents, and we all have things that we will never do well no matter how much we practice or how good we think we are. For some people, that thing they will never do well is writing. But I'll let you decide on the rest of it for yourself.

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