I taught creative writing (among other things) to 11-12 year old students for 20 years. I’d go home weekends with a pile of stories to read. The range of abilities was tremendous. Most could put a 1-3 page story together, a handful could barely write a decent paragraph, and a few were beyond excellent for a middle grade student writer.My job was to make sure they had growth no matter where the starting line began. The advice I gave to individual students keeps reappearing for me as I write still another draft or create a new story.
- Write stories that excite you, but also don’t be afraid to jump out of your comfort zone.
- Read your story out loud so others can hear how your words sound.
- Get your story down first. Worry about spelling and grammar later.
- Take criticism not as a put down but as suggestions to make your writing better.
- Write the story that is in your head. Read through it once to make changes and then put it a way for at least a week. Revising will be a lot easier.
- Save everything. The good, the not so good, and anything in between. You may be able to use it another time.
- Your writing can always improve.
- Read. Read. Read.
Speaking of slush piles… I entered my 39,000 contemporary MG novel, THE BIRTHDAY JINX, into a fun contest over at SC Writes. It’s called The Writer’s Tank and I’m happy to report I made the final cut. Now the fun begins as agents participating can request pages or full manuscripts. You can look at my entry and all the others HERE. It’s the first 250 words. This is the only time THE BIRTHDAY JINX has left the confines of my computer so it’s pretty exciting!