Monday, January 23, 2012


© Julie H. Ferguson 2012
Here are my keepers from Lois Peterson's excellent workshop, Fiction Writing for Children and Young Adults, held this past weekend. In no particular order:
  •  There's no perfect kid's book - just do your best. Good timing, some luck, and a fresh idea all play their part, to say nothing of reaching a good acquisition editor who's looking.
  • Kids love rhyme; publishers, not so much.
  • Read hundreds of books in your category.
  • Young adult fiction tackle tough subjects these days and many YAs are also read by adults.
  • Kidlit is sold to adults and written for children.
  • If you write for girls and your protagonist is a girl, be sure to have a boy alongside her in your story.
  • Study boys as well as girls.
  • Boys love dystopia and horror and publishers are looking for male protagonists.
  • Stories/books do not emerge fully formed. They start with small germs (ideas).
  • Lois provided us with a way to capture all these germs on a chart. Connect each germ with an emotion.
  • Children's authors are scavengers - attuned to finding story germs.
  • If you don't have kids in your life as a parent or grandparent, read children's magazines in the library to learn what is captivating/worrying them today.
  • Once your story germ(s) are fleshed out, start writing and let your creativity flow without judgment.
  • If you can't sell your picture book idea, sell it as a story in kids' magazines.
  • Use several tools to enhance your storytelling. E.g. the Hero's Journey, three act structure, and Freytag's Triangle for escalating tension.
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  • Have a system for analysing your first draft and then revise, revise, revise. Lois offered her unique reverse outline, a method that she's developed. (Will work for any fiction.)
In the course of three hours, we learned much more than this. Other writers will have identified keepers other than mine - it all depends on where they are in their journey to publication.

Lois's blog is at

QUESTION: If you were at the workshop, what did you find most valuable?