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, September 28, 2017

Overview Nonfiction: Timeless: Personality

Workshop: An Introduction to Writing for Children and Young Adults

“People are always interested in other people.” Jane Fitz-Randolph

Whether historical or current there is no end of potential people to write about whether well-known or unknown.

Find the Angle.

From age two, one of my grandsons was mesmerized by a story about Michael Jordan, Salt in His Shoes, written by his mother Deloris Jordan. The story was based on a particular summer in Michael’s life when he struggled to play basketball with the big kids in the neighborhood park and how his commitment turned his despair into success. At first I only shared a few words per page here and there but day after day my grandson would still ‘read’ the story carefully turning the pages. As he grew older I read all the words and he understood the story even more. One specific insight into this gifted athlete opened up a whole new generation to recognize, love, family, perseverance, and faith through this true story.

Be interesting to a broad range Audience.

Although the vocabulary in Salt in His Shoes fit more for fourth grade and older the detailed illustrations pulled in the younger readers and the emotional storyline pulled in the adults. Regardless of your immediate intended audience look for the themes that are universal and ageless and their truths will cross age, race, and culture. Life matters.

Be Authentic. The research needs to be solid. If you include interviews be sure to get permission. If you are doing historical research and find conflicting material give the reasons for the discrepancy and why it is an issue.

Find fresh material or Application. Many years after World War ll many movies, novels and life stories were written about the behind scenes espionage, life changes, and hidden atrocities that occurred. Ordinary people worked hard incognito to save others. Women played a much more dangerous role in many battles that were not acknowledged or revealed at the time due to danger for them and their work. What factors will connect to your specific audience and age group?

How might the British women’s contribution of code and cypher breaking at Bletchley Park and the Native American Navajo Code Talkers be of interest today skill and study wise? Or the recently released movie Hidden Figures that unveils the three women math geniuses that played such an important role in NASA. Why did it take so long to release their stories?

Look at your own curiosity questions and see if there are any behind the scenes people to acknowledge.

Action Steps:

1.     Using the above italic outline write down any potential ideas.

2.     Choose the two most interesting to focus your purpose.

3.     Outline what sources you already have and where you need to do research.

4.     Write up a sample outline for an interview to fill in either in person or from research material.

Share: Who has been an influential person to you in this topic you are sharing and why?

Read deep, marcy

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Overview Nonfiction: Timeless: How-To

Workshop: An Introduction to Writing for Children and Young Adults

On the surface a how-to seems almost self-explanatory but it’s amazing how easy it is to forget a key detail. This is rich territory for any age but especially for ages five and up as these subjects combine details and information with curiosity and possible future inspiration.

How-to pieces go beyond arts and craft projects to exercise, finances, organization skills, doing chores, and sharing talents.

Keep it truthful. Keep it simple. Keep it accurate. Keep it doable.

Truthful. Make a connection with your reader. Are you sharing from a love of your information? Did you totally mess up the first time you tried to make this topic yourself and have a funny story to tell? Is it something important to know how to do but can also be dangerous if done incorrectly—like a teenager learning to change a tire? Don’t make light of any complications, but be sure to give solutions. Share=Connection.

Simple. Precise. Concise. Step-by-step instructions. Take time to explain a word that might be unfamiliar or confusing. Don’t make assumptions. Give a detailed list of requirements both in material and time and potential cost.

Accurate. Point out the potential glitches. Is there stage where they will need help? For the very young enable them to understand waiting time. Are there any potential dangers that older teens or adults need to be aware of? Food allergies or something can become slippery. Protect eyes or need gloves?

Doable. Personalize again. How much fun? How many more times? What possible projects can come next or expand or new ideas to follow up on. Make other possible connections.

How to Build a Kite can connect to arts and crafts, a family outing, a party, building skills, types of tools, and supplies.
How to Fly a Kite can connect to skills needed and festivals and history and types.
How to Know Where to Fly a Kite can lead to a study of wind and environment.

How-to can also be woven into narrative stories either from the viewpoint of a fictional character, a personal memory of your first time trying it out, or as an interview.

The goal is for readers to be excited to try it for themselves and not just see a list that they hold and say, “Do I have to?”

Action Steps:
1.     Make a list of any how-to side subjects that might connect with your article from last week.

2.     Then choose one and see how many parts or angles you could develop.

3.     Choose two and write them up: one as a brief sidebar, and one as a whole article itself.

4.     Look up some possible magazine markets to submit to. Remember that magazines sometimes work a year ahead, so submitting an article in the fall for the following summer, or vice versa, is not unusual.

Share: The title of your article.

Read deep, marcy

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Overview Nonfiction: Timeless: Informational

Workshop: An Introduction to Writing for Children and Young Adults

The range for this style is almost indefinable. Any potential topic fits from all subjects and genres. Since basically all articles and essays include information here the focus becomes purpose and intent. We have all experienced the information overflow that causes our minds to glaze over.  So to keep interest one focus key is the central purpose, which then connects the tone and point of view. Will it be severe, dramatic, humorous, functional, or enlightening?

The facts need to support the purpose in tone as well. And again they need to be age appropriate. A toddler understands basic warnings such as don't run or don’t touch or don’t move. Older readers will want to know the why and what of the danger to confirm the warning words.

Interest is the precise lure, to be supported by the presentation, and undergirded with facts. Even a wealth of facts is possible if presented in an engaging manner. For younger readers a story narrative can help guide new information. Older readers will want evidence as well, but slanted specifically to the main interest or main reason they are reading this particular article.

Don’t overload and don’t use terminology that can’t become relative to the reader. Limit to the primary focus. Ground the reader in the subject before expanding the concepts and vocabulary.

Say for example I wanted to do some article on kites. Will I focus on (entertainment) the fun it is to watch others fly them on the beach, (historical or geographical) where kite flying originated, (science) wind currents,  (occupations) festivals for kites, and the list goes on.

In a few weeks we’ll look at outlines and methods of focusing a potential essay or article but for right now begin to sift out main components of information you want to base your subject on.

Action Steps:

1. From the category you chose last week take your four main points and make a list of all the key foundations of information that are either the most interesting or the most critical or both for each of them.

2. Keep a list of the parts that don’t fit right now.

3. Choose one particular aspect and do a brainstorm of everything you already know. For example: what do you know about beaver homes?

4. Make a rough draft list of potential details.

5. Next to each mark whether you have an example or story or details to share or do you need to do more research?


Share: What topic point have you chosen to work on for an information article?

Read deep, marcy

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Overview Nonfiction: Timeless Styles

Workshop: An Introduction to Writing for Children and Young Adults

Topic =why plus what plus who plus how

Last week, for your article in progress, you have now chosen a potential style, a purpose, an audience, an age, and perhaps a voice. Now we’ll look at a few different style approaches over the next few weeks.

Basically there are four main types of books: biography, history, science, and how-to. They often overlap but the underlying core purpose will designate the foundation category.

The top timeless requests for magazine are: how to, informational, interesting personality, and self-development. Depending on your subject you may be able to get a feel for audience interest by taking sections of a proposed book and write articles from the chapters or as a blog. It’s a good way to test the waters as you plan.

For example, suppose you are fascinated by Abraham Lincoln and although there are several books written about him, you feel some of them are out-dated and old-fashioned in presentation and you’d like to inspire a new generation.

Would your potential biography be chronological, or specific highlights, or one key aspect, such as determination or honesty?

From your research and interest you want to choose which slant you want to share about your subject and how to shape it. What pattern looks the most interesting?

If you were writing a book on transportation, would you only include all transportation with wheels or only bicycles or only a particular kind of bicycle? How could that fit into a story about the history of bicycles?

For the next four weeks we’ll look at the specific magazine article styles. Choose four main points to consider for your topic as you do the action step below.

Also begin now to consider and experiment with your tone of choice. Articles and essays sometimes land under the same categories, but they do have a subtle difference that is defined by your primary purpose and audience again. Articles lean towards information delivery and an objective voice. Essays are often more subjective in attitude and explorative in presentation.

Action Steps:

            Viking Children’s Books listed their interest in these topics in the edition of Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market 2017.
            “NONFICTION All levels: biography, concept, history, multicultural, music/dance, nature/environment, science and sports.”

1. Under which category do you think your subject would fit best? Why?

2. Suppose you have a biographical topic that represents a musician that falls into both music and multicultural. Which category do you think should be the primary focus?

3. Look up their catalogue and see if they already have books on your person, and/or someone similar in topic. Or a series? Is there a pattern? A missing space you could fill?

4. If you have a particular magazine you are interesting in submitting to, read several issues and note whether they lean towards an article style or an essay style of tone and voice.

Share: What primary category has your attention? Why?

Read deep, marcy

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