The Craft

The Craft | The Process | The Writing Life

Contrary to popular belief, writing a book isn’t just sitting, staring at a computer screen, spewing out words and hoping they’ll magically mold into some sort of story.  Oh, but wouldn’t that be wonderful?  Those little black letters and words could climb and squirm their way into some semblance of order until you have a coherent story, worthy of an audience!  But, alas, until someone creates this wonderful piece of technology, writing a book is quite the contrary.  It requires skill, patience, perseverance, and knowledge.  Part of that knowledge comes from understanding your craft.  There are many elements that go into writing a book, some of which might seem a little more elusive than others.  Characters need to be carefully crafted, worlds must be skillfully created, and the plot must carry through the entire story.  While those are some great starting points, there are even more things to consider—voice, characterizations, descriptions, showing the story to your reader through the character’s eyes, and engaging your audience.  Easy peasy.

Characterization: The last thing you want is a cardboard cutout for a main character.  Honestly, that’s just flat, boring, and stiff.  Unless that’s your point, then go for it…? Maybe.  Otherwise, you’ll need to make your character engaging and someone for your readers to care about and root for.  And when introducing other characters, point out physical traits and characteristics other than eyes and hair color.  Think about the way they walk or how their hair falls into their face when they tip their head or how, no matter how many times this character bathes, they always smell like cheese.  I like cheese.  Swiss is my favorite.

Grammar & Technique:  I done gone and writ a book. Win I was dun, I even uzed spill check. It be a good book. Reel smart persons are going ta loved it.

Plot:  It was midnight. A girl woke from a nightmare.  About zombies.  She cried.  Her mother comforted her with milk and cookies.  The end.

Show Don’t Tell:  This is best described in a wonderful quote by Anton Chekhov— “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”  Brrr….It’s cold outside.  Oh, I mean I have goosebumps on my arms! Time for a sweater.

Voice :  This is really quite an elusive little thing that isn’t so little.  Yeah, it’s kind of vital to the life of your story.  Voice is your character’s unique way of speaking.  It’s the way they tilt their head, laugh with a sweet little trill and narrate your entire manuscript.  Voice takes practice, and once you get it, you’ll know it and so will your readers!

World Building:  Zombies are cool.  That is all.

* * * * *

Beginnings:  Once upon a time.  It was a dark and stormy night.  It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  They call me Ishmael.

Muddy Middles:  Help! My feet are stuck in quick sand and I’m sinking!  This story is going NO WHERE fast!

Wrapping It Up:  And they all lived happily ever after.  The end.

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2 Responses to The Craft

  1. Hi- So glad I found your blog (through SCBWI message board). I am a well-published author-illustrator of picturebooks…but a MG virgin, working on my first MG reader.
    I live in southern NH and would love to connect with other MG published authors in this area. Feel free to contact me. Maryann Cocca-Leffler

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  2. If it were easy, everyone could do it. There are those who struggle to write so much as a sentence that is their creation. There are those who can write 100 pages and never say anything. Then there are writers.

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