Archive for the ‘Today’s Topic’ Category

Taking a Closer Look

Magnifying glass

Image via Wikipedia

There are plenty of opportunities to write for kid magazines.  And with so many options, the topic possibilities are endless–just waiting on YOU to add your own fingerprint to the mix.  So today I thought I would share a few links where you can get started.  Well, actually, ONE BIG LINK where you’ll think you’ve found the mother lode. 

Did you know there is a website designated just for Kid Magazines?  It’s called “The Information Center for Writers for Children” and I think it’s the BEST place to start.  There, you’ll find listings and links, literally from A to Z.  There’s even a DEAD ZONE, keeping you informed on those mags you may have heard about, but are no longer in operation.

I suggest just taking some time to browse the many options out there.  The titles pretty much give away the audience and focus, but click on those that interest you and take a closer look. 

Oh, another great feature on this site is the guidelines link.  For most publications, the guidelines are just a click away.  However, some magazines require an email or snail mail request.  KidMagWriters.com keeps you informed on who shares guidelines online AND which ones are paying markets. 

If you are interested in writing for kids, magazines is the best place to start.  So take a few and check out KidMagWriters.com to see just where you can begin.

Advertisements

Writing for Kid Magazines

Magazines to read

As promised, here are some reminders for those wanting to submit pieces to kid magazines.

  • Know the Magazine–study several issues of the magazine noticing topics, article lengths, sidebars, age of audience, etc.  Most publications offer samples and back issues for a low price.  Or, check your local library.  Writing the perfect piece means a PERFECT fit for a specific publication. 
  • Guidelines–AFTER studying the publication, read their submission guidelines.  Most kid magazines list themes and special topics they’re looking for right on their website. 
  • Topic Twist–In today’s competitive market, you want to stand out.  Think about the topic needs of the magazine.  What slant can you take that would make the editor take notice? 
  • Be an Expert–Think about your special skills.  Specific experiences and/or special training in a particular subject will build your credibility as an expert in the field.
  • Submission Policy–Does the editor want just a query letter or the entire article?  By email or snail mail?  Make sure you read the fine print.  It pays to FOLLOW DIRECTIONS.  If not, your submission will never see the light of day.

In other words, do your homework.  Plan, research, and organize your ideas.  Then, use this knowledge to provide the perfect piece for your intended magazine.  Editors will thank you.

Magazines, A Great Start

Magazine stand

Image by Tracy Hunter via Flickr

I’ve had many discussions with fellow writers about  just HOW to break in to the children’s book industry.  So I thought I’d share a little bit about MAGAZINE writing. 

Why start there? Here’s several reasons:

  • Writing in Demand–Think about it.  Most magazines run monthly.  This means they are filled with all sorts of information.  Magazines are always on the lookout for quality pieces with a fresh voice.
  • Specific Topics–Study any magazine and you’ll find they all have departments,many with special themes.  This is a great way for newbies who feel overwhelmed by too many ideas or worry with writer’s block where there’s no ideas at all.  This way you can find a topic you like and start there.
  • Word Counts— With these publications, there’s limited word space available.  That means every department/column must adhere to strict word counts.  For a newbie, this is great news.  First, you can breathe a sigh of relief–no pressure to write thousands of words like the latest YA bestseller. AND, it’s great discipline.  Strict word counts can teach new writers how to write tighter, keeping their pieces focused and clean.

So if a 50,000+ word count seems way out of reach or you’re just trying to get your feet wet in the world of children’s writing, magazines just may be the place for you to take the plunge.

With magazines, topics are endless and cycles continue.  Why not jump in and cycle along, too?  Next time, I’ll share a few more tips and links on KID MAGAZINE writing, so stay tuned. . .

Tune In. . .to your Writing

Philips headphones

Image via Wikipedia

Do you prefer background noise when you write or do you need total silence?  For me, I prefer the quiet.  When I first began writing, I couldn’t compete with any sound. 

Still today, my best writing takes place in the early hours before the house fills with its everyday noises.  That way I can tune into the voices in my head.

But as a person totally in love with music and the feelings it stirs, I wanted to be like the rest of my writer friends and play some tunes while tapping away at my own keyboard.

Now that I’ve established a regular routine, the noise doesn’t bother me as much.  Although I still prefer quiet, I’ve trained my brain to tune into my storyworld and tune out my surroundings just about anywhere. 

So here’s what I tried:

  • white noise–For some reason, white noise is too loud for me.  My characters start crying for umbrellas in the rain or beg for lifesavers as they try to stay afloat in the ocean.
  • movie soundtracks–I like these because most are without words.  And they are meant to provoke certain moods.  I found these work best for me after I have the basics down and need to use more sensory details in a scene.
  • music of a time period–Right now I’m writing a story that takes place in the 70s.  The sounds of the 70s are crucial to my story.  Even though I can’t keep them playing constantly while I write, I listen to them while I do other things–cook, clean, exercise, etc.  As I’m listening, I jot down song titles that provoke a certain nostalgic mood I need for those lackluster scenes–yes, usually in the middle.  I play the song in the background while I read the scene aloud.  For me, this works well.

When John Met Paul

On July 6, 1957 John Lennon and Paul McCartney met for the first time at an outdoor fair where John was performing.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

There’s actually an entire book written around this meeting–The Day John Met Paul by Jim O’Donnell–if you’d like to learn more.

 Characters Count–What about the characters in the stories you write?  Are they just meeting random people randomly?  Are you filling up the pages with all sorts of cardboard characters just to take up space? 

Oftentimes, as writers, we focus all our attention on creating a dynamic protagonist and maybe even spend lots of extra time on an antagonist.  After that, we begin sort of cutting and pasting in these other characters until they are just, well, there

As writers, we need these other characters to push the story forward, so we sprinkle them in as needed.  Oftentimes, though, these sidekicks become stereotypical and just blah.

Today, examine your supporting cast with some of these thoughts/questions:

  • First, does the character seem to disappear?  Go through the manuscript and highlight every time she actively participates in a scene.  If you notice by the end she’s M.I.A then evaluate her purpose.  You may need to combine this character with another more developed one or throw her from the train entirely.
  • How does this character impact the protagonist?  Find ways to detail this impact throughout the story.  That’s why this sidekick’s included in the first place.
  • How will this character be remembered?  Find ways to detail what makes her unique.

So today, if your protagonist meets a cop, don’t have him sitting in his patrol car eating doughnuts all day.  

Make sure your supporting cast is breathing, with their own set of believable quirks and conflicts.  That way, when the protagonist/antagonist does meet her, the meeting matters.  Who knows?  The meeting could be as monumental as the day John met Paul.