Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Young at heart Masterclass - writing for 5-8 year-olds

On Sat 7 Sept I went to Charing Cross to a SCBWI-BW Masterclass about writing for young readers. That was after a long journey of getting a train to New Cross Gate, then a replacement bus to New Cross, another train to London Bridge, and a final train to Charing Cross. Due to works on the line, there were no trains via New Cross to London Bridge. I got there on time, which surprised me. Anyway, the workshop was taken by the publisher Stripes.

First we were asked what made young fiction different from say MG. Vocabulary, short chapters, you are being kind eg no parents arguing, and subject matter. I also thought that with young fiction, parents are always there in the background.

You have to think who is the reader? Are they on their own or are they being read to by their parent? Ruth, from Stripes, said not to worry about the story being related to the real world.  Give the character a sense of individuality. With 7-10,000 words you have to have points in everything.

Then came an exercise. We were given a choice of three opening lines. I chose the one about not being able to run, and wrote about a girl who had dwarfism and was about to run around a track. (Maybe part of my new series of special needs children meeting magical worlds).

Ruth then said that the reader must like the logical world and that it ties together.

Then we had to write a character profile. I wrote about Charlie, who will be in the second of my special needs books. I will use that to write the story when I do. Then we had to write a scene where we put the child in a different scenario. I wrote about Charlie and his dyspraxia going to a hairdresser. It gave me the idea to write short stories like this in between the main books.

We were given homework of writing an exercise, which I might do later on. I am thinking it might be the premise of another series I have in mind about special needs.

Ruth then told us how to write a cover letter and a synopsis. I have used this info to write the cover letter and synopsis for Billy to send to agents again.

What she did say that interested me was that if you are writing a series, you should prob wait until Book 1 is accepted to start Book 2, unless you want to do it for yourself.

Then we got our feedback from our first chapter. Mine was liked. It just so happened that Ruth's husband had read it because he works with people with autism, and thought it was a good description of someone with Asperger's. I gave her my card for her husband.  I did think of querying Stripes with Billy, but have since found I'd already sent Billy, the old version, to them, so that was out.

Overall, I learnt quite a bit, and it gave me ideas for future stories to write later. Can't wait.

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