Monthly Archives: February 2016

Choosing an audience

I’ve never really thought about an audience for my books. I wrote mostly for me, and I guess in the back of my mind, I always just kind of imagined that if I ever published anything, someone would read it, I didn’t really care who. But that’s a naive approach, and one that sets the writer up for failure.

I, of course, know that one of the early steps for any writing is knowing who you are writing for, and module 2 was all about choosing an audience and choosing the right kind of story. Though I haven’t got mine outlined yet, what I can say about my story idea thus far is that it’s aimed toward 10-12-year-olds. It’s not quite a coming of age story, but in the book of life, it’s probably the chapter right before. My character, Molly, is struggling with childhood and reconciling that with responsibilities of growing up.

Within the groups this course lists — animal story, sports, historical, mystery, adventure, ghost/horror, humor– I suppose my story will fall more into humor, maybe with a dash of adventure. Molly is a little reminiscent of Anne of Green Gables, letting her imagination lead her where it will.

Soon I hope I’ll have motivated myself to do some planning and mapping, and maybe I’ll be ready to share the beginnings of this book in all its glory.

A new adventure

I’ve been writing for most of my life.

Up until this point, most of what I’ve written for myself has been garbage. Salvageable, perhaps, but still currently garbage, no matter what my husband says. But I enjoy writing. I do it for me. Whether I ever publish anything or not is irrelevant.

I have always wanted to take a creative writing course, but it never seemed to fit into my schedule during my college years. Perhaps one day I’ll get around to it, but for now, online will have to do.

A Facebook advertisement introduced me to WriteStoryBooksForChildren.com, an online, modular writing course regularly costing somewhere around $600 to enroll. Groupon, the magical coupon site, was offering it for $20, a 97 percent discount, I was informed. I’ll admit, I was skeptical; at 97 percent off, what does that say about the course? But at the same time, it’s $20, and I find that I have a lot of free time here in Modesto…

I never particularly thought about writing children’s books, but then, I’ve never really thought about writing any particular genre or for any specific demographic. I just kind of word vomit and hope for the best. But the great thing about this online course (or so I’m assuming, based on completing the first module) is that the ideas are largely the same, regardless of who your audience is.

Your story needs believable characters, a detailed, realistic setting, conflict and resolution to keep the story progressing and –hardest of all for me– planning.

Like I said, I word vomit. I don’t plan much at all. I didn’t plan what to say in this post, I’m making it up as I go. But to be successful as a writer, there does need to be a degree of planning. I’m not sure I believe course authors Tony Bradman and Peggy Woodford when they say if you don’t plan, give up now, but I concede that planning eliminates hours of editing work, where you have to rewrite or erase meaningless scenes that were filler to get you from one scene to another scene you’ve envisioned. My goal, as I progress through this 18-module course is to try writing a book following the guidelines, instructions and tips provided by these successful authors (though I must confess, I’ve never heard of any of the books they have listed under their author bios).

Planning is a big challenge for me because it requires a relatively detailed plot. My writing tends start with a scene, typically toward the middle or end of the story. Maybe it’s how someone dies. Maybe it’s the moment where the girl finally allows herself a moment of vulnerability in front of her would-be hero. Whatever it is, usually I have the scene, and I struggle and spew my way to that scene and beyond, and hope I find a few nuggets of gold along the way. And I do. But this method of planning will see if I find more gold than… other stuff, in my story by the end of it.

So here’s to concocting an idea where no one dies and attempting a story that doesn’t emotionally scar the children, but somehow comes out readable.