image: header
Home | About | Contact | Editing Services | Resources | Workshops | Mythic Impact Blog | Sowing Light Seeds

“You enter the extraordinary by way of the ordinary.” ~Frederick Buechner

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Overview Nonfiction: Target

Workshop: An Introduction to Writing for Children and Young Adults

“Information is useful, it is palatable, it is fascinating. And it is compelling to the reader.” Jane Yolen

Target= Why plus what plus who.

Jane Yolen also adds that all the information needs to become recognition.

As a result of brainstorming and initial research you now have some ideas you’d like to explore as potential articles or chapters. Now begins a tighter focus to connect with your intended audience and make the information you’d like to share recognizable to them specifically—even though you may be dealing with a completely new concept for your age category.

The age now determines your vocabulary, your style of presentation, which examples will be most effective, and how much research to share. Also if you have a particular market that you plan to submit to, you will need to gauge the length as well but not on your first draft.

Subject and style: abstract versus concrete, objective versus opinion, vocabulary level, subtle or precise are all target aspects to consider once you know the overall effect you choose.

One vocabulary detail to remember is that children don’t usually begin to think in abstract terms before age ten so until then metaphors might be very confusing and too abstract. But a simile might work especially for the very young who want to understand everything.

For example, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle, combines many concepts throughout his story: numbers, food, days of the week, growing size, a chrysalis and metamorphosis.

His through narrative line is hunger, which he announces in the title and continues through each page. Even without knowing vocabulary words a one-year old understands being hungry.

Eric Carle walks the tiny caterpillar through a week of eating and growing larger every day. “On Tuesday he ate through two pears but he was still hungry.”  By centering the young reader with a day-to-day reality he becomes ready for the science that is too abstract for terms yet but concrete.

“He built a small house called a cocoon around himself.” A new word is introduced alongside the reality of being wrapped up. A chrysalis is visual on the page. Again a toddler will connect with the idea and image.

“He stayed inside for more than two weeks.” Carle gives information that may not be understandable yet but stays true to the development of metamorphosis. When the now big caterpillar ate his way out of the cocoon, “he was a beautiful butterfly.”

The same undergirding concept of hunger and caterpillars would work all the way up to a college level audience by adding increasing information, language, and appropriate science theory. 

The target question is still what overall effect do you want your readers to leave with? Will this be a sense of the wonder that undergirds science, an example to explore an art project, or a how-to project to examine?

Action Steps:
1.Choose your age target’s vocabulary level and main examples to use to connect with them.

2. Make a list of the information you intend to share. What will their age group recognize immediately and what will need explanation?

3. Make a list of potential metaphors or similes.

Share: Which metaphor or simile makes you smile?

Read deep, marcy

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Overview Nonfiction: Topic Research

Workshop: An Introduction to Writing for Children and Young Adults

“Creative research is made up of four parts: intuitive guesses, detective work, chutzpah, and just plain luck.” Jane Yolen

Out of your research can come more ideas for biographies, history, travel, special events, occasions, and unexpected questions, both related to your primary focus and as additional subjects to set aside for later consideration.

Perhaps your initial intention is to write a magazine article, but the more you research the more interested you become and begin to explore the idea for a book. As you sweep-read for initial research, write down those odd gleanings as they pop up. Keep a separate list folder for the curiosities that don’t seem to fit anywhere but do catch your interest.

For your immediate topic/article, choose a record keeping method that works in tune with your personal process of thinking. Some writers need visual aids: perhaps a map with small sticky images or photos. Others prefer detailed outlines or tables and graphs. Don’t make the research stage difficult and confusing but easy access. Headings, color codes, tabs, and icons, can help separate categories.

A combination of at-hand and online folders will keep duplicate copies in case anything goes missing, but be sure to use the same categories to avoid confusion. Consider trying out both a virtual binder system and an online technology one to see which you find most effective.

Action Steps:
Set-up your immediate topic files, then keep all the extra material under another heading for future reference or for a potential second book.

1. Write down the broad strokes of a wide overview of your topic.

2. Keep a diary of where major incidents or details happen.

3. Also record the references when you use library material, especially when borrowed.

4. Note when your sources are primary or secondary.

5. Set goals and time management for your research as well as your writing, so the writing gets your priority.

Share: Did you discover a surprise in your research? How?

Read deep, marcy

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Overview Nonfiction: Topic

Workshop: An Introduction to Writing for Children and Young Adults

Practice makes perfect, as one saying goes, so, as we continue to discuss nonfiction attributes, the next blog sections are designed for writing your own article alongside our general conversation.

Topic= why plus what.

Based on your own why concepts of curiosity and connection, choose one topic from the brainstorming this past week in your subject list. Will it be from a passion you still have or an interest in why you originally discarded a topic and now wonder about it?

First brainstorm some preliminary “what to share” possibilities to mull over. Next week we’ll look at some research suggestions. Right now daydream.

Prepare your initial purpose, or what you think are the primary questions you want to consider. Brainstorm possible themes within your topic. What type of attitudes might readers find interesting or be resistant to?  Which point of view do you feel most comfortable with and which would be a challenge?

The purpose here is toward communicating new knowledge. Children have enormous curiosity. Concepts are as important as facts, especially for the very young. Wonder is the motivation for all ages.

Focus on the heart of your topic, your potential audience age, the questions you need to research for clarity, confirmation of truth, vocabulary, and the impression you desire to share.

Action Steps:
Begin to ask the questions now.

1. Who is your intended target audience?

2. What will be the reader expectations that you need to include?

3. What overall effect do you want your readers to leave with?

a. Hope? What kind: emotional, physical, spiritual?
b. Solutions? What kind: cost, time, and/or relational?
c. Entertainment: Why? Long term—short term?

Share: What information communication did you choose as a primary focus and for what age? Why?

Read deep, marcy

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Sample Excerpt from Strategy # 3

Eight Strategies For Innovative Settings

“For some minutes Alice stood without speaking, looking out in all directions over the country – and a most curious country it was… ‘I declare it’s marked out just like a large chessboard!’” Lewis Carroll

Historic Landmarks

Geography alone does not build up atmosphere and emotional connections in our worlds. Instead we also need to understand landmarks as potential maps and mirrors in order to recognize, choose, and transform their unique characteristics to our story. Our landmarks then become a natural part of our world rather than a stage prop of location.

A historic landmark can be public or private, such as a town cemetery or a century-old family plot on an estate. It may be internationally known like the Eiffel Tower or local as a statue in a neighborhood park. It can be natural or manmade.

A commemorative landmark can carry a sense of pride by one faction of a population and a long-held grief of failure for others. A historic landmark may have been created by whimsy such as oddly shaped trees, or odd-shaped dwellings, or a serious preventive measure against loss of life, as so many well-known lighthouses have provided.

A historic landmark can be of value to one individual, or to a nation, or to a continent. The fact that it carries a history makes it personal whether the reaction to it is positive or negative or neutral. Sometimes the landmarks can just be subtle reminders and other times a key influence. They have the ability to influence theme, character, plot threads, and setting.

The key is to make a personal impact that invades, lingers, and reacts.

Build Your Story: As you choose or incorporate specific landmarks (fictional or real) for your novel world, especially those that will remain constant through a series, begin asking these questions of each key spot you choose.

1. Is it natural?
2. Is it manmade?
3. What is the history behind it?
4. How might different characters personally react to it?
5. Is it considered to be holy ground? Why?
6. If so, is it open to everyone to visit or considered forbidden?
7. Which characteristic makes you curious? Why?

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Sample Excerpt from Strategy #2

Eight Strategies For Writing Innovative Settings


Landscape includes interior and external sites, emotional connections, literal space, and geographic background. It includes the climate, weather, topography, and amount of daylight. Each of these areas has the capacity to silently boost the sacred connection between reader and character by allowing the reader to identify with the literally tangible, yet subtle details.

For example, in the movie The Count of Monte Cristo, Edmund Dantes spends many years in prison. The site of his confinement is the Chateau d’if, a historical fortress built in the 1500’s. This landscape is cold, damp, rocky, and dark—a mirror image to Dante’s emotional life. Even when a landscape is confined to one room, or is a silent backdrop, we can use its natural attributes to influence our scenes and their emotional impact.

So how does this translate to practical application? We begin a piece at a time and build the world from emotional resonance. We not only draw out our physical locations, but doodle out the emotional impact they have on our characters. We brainstorm each setting’s location, even if only as a brief two-minute list. If you see something that triggers an emotional reaction, but you’re not sure how to use it, then put it in the resource pile for later.

When you read for research, pick out the parts that intrigue, comfort, challenge, or frighten you. And temporarily leave the rest behind. Keep a list going as to where you found that information, so if you need to return for more details, you’ll find it easily. It’s a banquet laid out before us and we can’t possibly eat it all at once. So we pick out the best parts first, in case we get full. The parts that stir our hearts, the parts that we react to emotionally, become our map routes, our mirror reflections, and our atmosphere internally.

Externally, we discover our connections through landscape, as Elizabeth George explains it. To her landscape is “the broad vista into which the writer actually places the individual settings of the novel, sort of like the canvas or other medium onto which a painter has decided to daub color……when we discuss landscape we’re also talking about…the emotions that are evoked by the setting.” She continues, “Landscape is the total place experience in a novel.”

Build Your Story: What literal climate, weather, topography, or daylight can become an emotional mirror for your character’s internal struggle?

                                                     Read deep, marcy

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Overview Nonfiction: Introduction Trust

Workshop: An Introduction to Writing for Children and Young Adults

“Surely a kind of fascination or a deep desire to learn more about a subject must be there from the start.” Jane Yolen

Nonfiction easily warrants a workshop all to itself but as most fiction techniques also apply to this genre in this section we’ll look at the aspects that are assigned to it more specifically.

The well-known guidelines for solid nonfiction are still the basic who, what, when, where, and how, but the undergirding purpose is why.


These elements are the main criteria regardless of age. Both for the reader and from the author if the material is to have any impact beyond straight factual information. Think of how many times your thoughts have glazed over during a boring meeting that is solely fact based, even when you know it is information you need.

As babies move into understanding language they often point constantly to people and objects even before they can shape words in a desire to know. Toddlers have the capacity to drive the most patient adults to exhaustion with their why questions.

Nonfiction sings when curiosity begins a dialogue of interest. When an author has a connection with their topic and a desire to share, then trust is built.

So what do you do when assigned a topic of no interest to you or you feel is already boring. Think of someone hearing the topic or word or definition for the very first time and perhaps the only time they will ever hear any information on this subject. Then look for the spark of communicating truth in a voice that shares. Maybe with humor, or your own reluctance, or a surprise you discovered, but share one-to-one.

And it must be accurate so as an author you need to do the digging. If this is the only information on this topic they will ever hear, it must be the truth. Otherwise trust disappears and boredom replaces interest not only in this particular subject but possibly in others as well.

To paraphrase a comment by Jane Yolen, beautifully written information books have changed lives because though they are informational in the broadest sense the authors have written them out of the deepest commitment and passion.

I think that magazine articles and blog posts can meet this standard as well if the authors are sharing from their hearts.

Action Steps:
1.Make a list of all the subjects that have been of interest to you growing up?

2.Which ones did you discard and why?

3.Which ones do you still find fascinating? Why?


Share: What main passion do you want to share?

Read deep, marcy

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Sample Excerpt from Innovative Settings

Eight Strategies For Writing Innovative Settings

“The tourist may look at a place and think ‘What does it do? What is it like? How much does it please me?’ but the fiction writer must look at a place and think ‘What does it suggest? What does it mean to me? What does it mean to my characters?’” Jack Hodgins

Hodgins suggests that in order to achieve this perspective, a writer needs to construct a place—“real or invented”—rather than describe it. By choosing specific details you both impress the landscape on your reader and connect them to the meaning of your world. Think habitat.

“Stare at your world until you discover what it has to offer you,” he says.

There are many ways to develop this focused center in any scene. You can begin from the inside out by imagining the location of your setting visually and finding just the right pieces to fit the emotional core. Or you begin from a natural habitat and focus on the specifics that define your atmosphere and story questions.

For example, a setting on the moors can portray an image of beauty, wildness, danger, freedom, and loneliness. An added element might be the choice of dwelling. Is the habitat an ancient stone castle, weather beaten with crumbling bricks, a wooden hut, or a modern architectural masterpiece? How would each of these possible homes blend, or contrast, with the physical geography?

Deserts, oceans, forests, meadows, streams, canyons, and islands all have distinct characteristics. Even if your character will be interacting with all kinds of terrain there will still be one that is “home.” One that will quietly represent a direct heart highway, either toward security, or away toward uncertainty.

Too early in your story yet to decide which habitat best suits your purpose? Try this brainstorm. If your character were to transform into her emotional habitat, what animal or bird, flower or tree, body of water, type of wind would she become? Where would you most likely find that setting geographically?

Build Your Story: What in your character’s natural habitat could become a danger to him or her?

Read deep, marcy

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Book Review Highly Recommend

Bring Your Fiction To Life by Karen S. Wiesner

Go deeper. Bring a multi-layered perspective to your writing from the initial spark through to the published launch. At whatever stage you are in your writing career this craft book delivers a solid foundation, clear instruction, several practical suggestions, and expert advice.

One of the qualities I most appreciate in Karen S. Wiesner’s books on writing is her intense commitment to share and develop her personal experience. She undergirds each concept with well-founded definitions, gives concrete published examples to amplify them, and then offers high quality understandable applications to follow.

Her ongoing feature of her books to include accessible worksheets goes the extra mile here by giving authors readymade templates from which to personalize. And she does not generalize them but gives specific details for each skill set she develops.

Personally I found two particular areas I’d like to explore more in my own work immediately. Wiesner points out that our blueprints are “just one of many layers of your story.” Her ideas regarding examining them for cohesiveness helps reduce uncertainty and laborious revision by catching the holes early on. For career writers she has insightful suggestions for applying the multilayered approach to all our stages and projects to produce quality consistently.

Taking the time to recognize the potential benefit of three-dimensional characters, plots, settings, scenes, marketing, goals, and personal process, is valuable time spent to truly develop stories that readers can’t resist. Enjoy.

Read deep, marcy

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Sample Feedback: Betta’s Song Chapter One Excerpt Critique

Workshop: An Introduction to Writing for Children and Young Adults

Many organizations that offer contests have a rubric that their first readers are often given to judge quality, using numbers one to five with five as the highest. Then the highest scored entries are passed along to the final judges. The basic intent is to identify the “catch” of the opening chapter, regardless of genre.

Also there is more than one reader per entry so it’s the total score that moves forward. As readers we all have inherent desires for any story we read. Some want deep character angst, some are more engaged by action or setting or curiosity. So the same first chapter could have high marks from one reader and low from another in the same box.

After participating as a preliminary judge for several years I decided to develop my own introductory analysis for my clients as an general overview first step. Not every category may be relevant for an immediate first chapter, depending on genre and depth of subject, but they should all be clarified by the end of the novel opening—which is usually by the third chapter.

Or for young readers many of these may need to be clarified within the first few  sentences or paragraphs. The main purpose is to establish what the first impressions are. Is the reader connecting to the character or dilemma or possibilities? And do they want to read on when the chapter ends? That is the crux.

So go ahead and apply this outline to the whole chapter of Attack, or to an opening chapter in a book you are now reading.

Share: According to this overview do you think there are any holes in this opening chapter than should have been addressed or clarified? What makes you want to read on? Or not?

                                                   Read deep, marcy

First Chapter Analysis Guideline, by Marcy Weydemuller

Opening First Impression

Story Writing Strengths

Story Writing Weaknesses

Delivery Strengths

Delivery Weaknesses

Story Question

Main Character





Genre Specifics

Read On?

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Eight Strategies for Writing Innovative Settings,

New Workbook series launches NOW

Looking to make your settings memorable?

In Eight Strategies for Writing Innovative Settings, we’ll examine key strategies to create impact for the settings of our novels regardless of genre. Each section focuses on one strategy with three or four applications and creative writing prompts to customize to your work. Whether you are just beginning a project or ready to revise, these suggestions will give you critical perspective.

In addition, we will look at novel excerpts from a variety of genres to see how authors have built unique settings—and how we can apply these techniques to our own work.

Build Your Story: What questions do you want answered for your specific setting?

Write with Impact workshops are a compilation of techniques, exercises, and observations that will give your writing a fresh slant, prompt your creativity, and take your writing to a deeper level.

What exactly does it mean to write with impact? When we go deeper into our stories with heart-to-heart connections and associations, we can write stories that make an impact on our readers.

Read deep, Marcy 

"The Seeker" Rachel Marks | Content Copyright Marcy Weydemuller | Site by Eagle Designs
image: footer