Editor Cheryl Kline challenged writers of children’s literature to post or at least ponder their guiding lights for writing (on her non-eponymous blog, chavelaque.blogspot.com). I love a challenge, so here goes!
My Advice to Me, Myself and I
Write because you must.
When I was younger, an actor/director told me there was only one excuse for being in theatre: because you’d be miserable doing anything else.
Let your characters say what they need to say, how they need to say it.
One of my most recently-met characters insisted on reporting (past) conversations in “scripted” form instead of as bits of quotation-marked dialog. I let her have her way in this one area, and it must have really given her some confidence, because she’s the biggest bossy-pants I’ve ever written. If I’d insisted upon quotation marks, I might never have met her.
Don’t write down to anybody.
Admit it: you hated this when you were any age. Your readers are smarter than you. Get over it.
Write the story you want to read.
It worked for Tolkien, and it really saves on the old book-budget. Just kidding. I’d never apply a budget to anything as essential as reading.
Read it out loud to your kids.
Yes, I know there’s all kinds of advice out there about not relying on the feedback you get from your sister, your best friend, or the people-who-depend-on-your-goodwill-to-eat. But if you’re writing for kids, read it out loud to your own. Mine have no problem telling me when I suck. I guess they know how to make their own food, though. So, teach your kids to cook. Then read your stuff to them.
I guess that’s about it for now. (Hint: do a screen capture and then come back in a few minutes/hours/days to see my edits!)
What are your rules for your own writing endeavors?