We have a special treat today! I want to introduce you to Nancy I. Sanders, author of Yes! You Can Learn How to Write Children’s Books, Get Them Published, and Build a Successful Writing Career.
E & E Publishing. 368 pages. Available at Amazon.com. for $19.95. You can visit Nancy at http://www.nancysanders.com/
Nancy is a best-selling and award-winning author who is now sharing her secrets to landing a contract before you write your manuscript — even if you’re an inexperienced or unpublished children’s writer. In my opinion, Yes! You Can . . . is worth every penny. You will learn how to manage your time and focus your energies, thereby finding time to write each day. You will also be introduced to Nancy’s unique plan to get published, earn an income, and satisfy your personal fulfillment as a writer. Listen to what people in the business are saying:
“Yes! You Can is like having your own personal writing coach at your side.” — Aimee Jackson, Senior Editor, Sleeping Bear Press.
“Here, at last, is the book on children’s writing I’ve been looking for to offer my writing customers.” — Sally Stuart, Christian Writers’ Market Guide
Nancy was gracious enough to answer some questions, and I want to share her answers with you now.
Q. Do you make a habit of reading your work out loud? Do you read it to someone else in order to get a second opinion? Or do you like to be by yourself so that you can listen to the resonance and rhythm of the words and thus get a perspective on your style and voice?
A. Actually, I like to do all of these . . . and more! My cat, Humphrey, knows that I often read my manuscripts aloud. He jumps up on the couch and listens! (And if he falls asleep while I’m reading something out loud, I don’t worry that it might be boring. After all, he’s a cat!) Often, I read my manuscripts aloud to my husband, Jeff. He gives such fantastic feedback that his name should probably be on most of my books as the co-author! I do like to read things aloud by myself during the stage when I’m trying to get it to really represent what I want to say and in my own voice. However, I also love to take manuscripts to critique groups and have other people read them aloud. This helps me know if there are awkward phrasings that might cause my readers to stumble over the words.
Q. Do you ever have trouble finding the voice of a minor character? If so, what are some of your methods for trying to pin it down?
A. When I first write a piece of fiction, all of my characters, both major and minor, somehow mysteriously end up talking just like . . . me! So I have to work very hard to give each character his own voice, especially a minor character. One of the best techniques I use to help pin this down is to sit all the characters down together in my mind for the scene I’m working on. I ask them the exact same question about the scene. Then I work on each of their answers until each of them answers that question in his own voice that truly reflects his unique personality and worldview.
Q. We hear a lot about “show, don’t tell.” Can you give an example or two that shows how you can convert a “telling” passage into a “showing” passage?
A. A narrative passage “tells” what is happening and is fine to use as a passage of time or a transition into a scene. For instance, this is a use of narrative that is good to keep in a manuscript:
Over the next few months, Chloe faithfully attended dancing school. One rainy Monday, she walked into class and noticed a new girl standing on the dance floor. She was wearing a pink tutu.
However, when we want to create a scene, we don’t want to use narrative and just “tell” what happened. That’s when we want to”show” a scene taking place. The best way to “show” is to use dialogue and action and develop the scene.
Here’s an incorrect use of narrative that”tells” what happens in a scene:
Chloe welcomed the new girl to class and found out that she had been chosen to dance in a Broadway show.
Here’s a much stronger way to use dialogue and action and “show” what happened by developing the scene:
“Is this your first time here?”Chloe asked, walking up to the girl.
“Yes,” the girl said. “My family just moved here from New York City. I was in a dancing class there for three years. Students from our class danced on Broadway.”
Chloe’s heart beat with excitement. “I’ve always wanted to dance in a Broadway production. Did you perform in any of the shows?”
The new girl sighed. “I was just chosen to dance in a new show. But then we had to move, so I never got to.”
The important thing to remember is that there’s a time for “telling” and a time for “showing.” When you want to introduce a scene or transition between two scenes, use narrative to tell the reader where you’re going in the story. When you want to develop a scene, however, toss the narrative aside and pull the reader right into the action so she can see, feel, and hear what’s happening. Use dialogue and action to “show.”
Thanks, Nancy, for sharing your expertise today! And I want to add that I just signed a two-book contract with E & E Publishing on the basic on a proposal — before writing a single word of text. Nancy’s method worked for me, and it can for you, too.