Sunday, June 10, 2012
Ann Harth is back this week to share her favorite writing tips. Ann is the author of the upcoming children’s middle grade mystery book, The Art of Magic, that takes place in Australia, where Ann calls home. This book is a crossover that appeals to young adults and adults, as well.
NKA: Ann, I love your tip of thinking like a child. That’s a great mindset for developing plot and dialog. What other tips do you have?
AH: Observe. Live like a writer. Keep your mind open to story ideas. They can be lurking in the most unexpected places. Maybe that child at the bus stop carries an umbrella because it connects her to another world. Maybe that dog racing down the street is escaping from a dognapper who wants to use him for experiments. The cranky shopkeeper? Could he be a frustrated astronaut who builds rockets in his basement? Story ideas are everywhere.
Pay attention to your senses. While you’re living like a writer, don’t forget to use your senses. Sight is wonderful, but don’t forget smell, sound, touch and taste. Wherever you are, take the time to close your eyes and experience. Can you smell the burned toast from breakfast? The lilacs outside the window? Is your seat hot and sticky or cold against your skin? Can you hear cars? Horns? A ticking clock? Can you taste anything? The remnants of a peppermint? The need of a peppermint? The more you pay attention to your senses, the easier it will be to use these in your writing to build believable and three-dimensional settings.
Carry a notebook. If you’re anything like me, brilliant snippets of best-selling ideas whizz into your mind and then out again, never to be rediscovered. Carrying a notebook won’t capture them all, but it will possibly snare one or two. The trick is to remember to use it. No matter how unformed, if an idea pops into your head and you find yourself exploring it, even a little, write it down. You can also use your notebook for recording interesting character traits - eyebrows that flutter like moths, crooked lips, a thunderous voice booming from a tiny woman. These could all be possible inclusions in one of your stories. But the best thing about your ever-present notebook is that, the next time you get stuck for an idea, riffle through it. It might trigger your next story.
NKA: I love your examples. The senses of smelling and tasting are closely related and can make the scene seem so real. As far as a notebook goes, I need one because great ideas seem to whiz out of my mind faster than they enter. Last week, you told us that your children’s mystery, The Art of Magic, will be available later this year from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, FictionWise, SmashWords and Solstice Publishing. You have another book writers will be interested in. Tell us about it.
AH: I also have an ebook available from the beginning of June (Kindle Edition) on Amazon. Writing for Children: In the Beginning is the book I wish I’d had when I started as a children’s writer. It covers finding ideas, viewpoint, dialogue, character development, some tips to get you started in the publishing world and, as they say, much more.
NKA: I’m certainly looking forward to reading both of your latest books. Ann, thanks so much for visiting my blog and sharing your ideas and inspiration. I wish you much success with your writing career.
To learn more about Ann and her books, visit her website at www.annharth.com.
Call for Submissions for adult writers:
FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION
We are looking for stories that will appeal to science
fiction and fantasy readers. The SF element may be slight,
but it should be present. We prefer character-oriented
stories. We receive a lot of fantasy fiction, but never
enough science fiction or humor. Do not query for fiction;
send the entire manuscript. We publish fiction up to 25,000
words in length. We buy first North American and foreign serial rights and an
option on anthology rights. All other rights are retained by
Details at http://www.sfsite.com/fsf/glines.htm
Check out more contests on my blog: http://nancykellyallen.blogspot.com/
Posted by Nancy Allen at 8:25 AM