According to Urban Dictionary, the word “rad” is used when “awesome” and “cool” just aren’t enough to describe something. Who doesn’t want their writing to be that great? Well, here are three tips to make your writing totally RAD:
*Read books geared for the age group you’ll be writing for—board books, picture books, middle grade, YA, etc.
Make a trip to your local library and check out as many books as you can carry. Whether it’s board books or YA books or anything in between, get to know what’s trending, what’s winning awards, and what never goes out of style. Because trends change so quickly in publishing, you’ll want to focus on books published in the past three years (as well as a few classics). And, you may want to check out the latest Newbery and Caldecott winners.
If you want to write for kids’ magazines, flip through a few issues to get a better idea of what they publish or study back issues featured on their websites.
As you read, take time to study the text. What makes them work? What do you like? What don’t you like?
*Allow yourself to go new places in your children’s writing.
Don’t trap yourself in a corner by saying, “I only write in rhyme” or “I only write chapter books.” Step out of your comfort zone and try sharing your stories in a variety of ways. When we think we’ve arrived in any area of writing, that’s when we stop growing. That’s when we stop getting better. That’s a dangerous place to dwell. Keep learning! Keep getting better! Keep stretching yourself as a writer!
Sometimes I write in rhyme like all of my What Is… books, and sometimes I write in narrative like my books with Mitchell Lane Publishing. Sometimes I write inspirational text like my Dinosaur Devotions and sometimes I write silly concept board books like my Counting Cows. Every story has different needs. Every story has a different tone. And, every story challenges me.
Early in my career, former editor at Waterbrook Erin Healy suggested I write every story in both rhyme and narrative to discover which way the story really needed to be told. I took her advice, and I’ve been doing that ever since. I challenge you to do the same!
*Dig into the emotion of every story.
It might be funny or sad or sweet or inspiring but whatever it is, let that emotion flow onto the page and run through your entire text.
My friend and fellow NF Ninja Peggy Thomas taught me “The Spaghetti Rule” at our recent Next Page retreat, and I loved it. She said you should be able to pick up a single piece of spaghetti from your story—that one long noodle that runs from cover to cover. Yes! That doesn’t just apply to the theme of the book but also to that emotion.
I think one of the best examples of this Spaghetti Rule can be found in The Rough Patch by Brian Lies. It’s beautifully written and illustrated, and that emotional thread is apparent on every page. If you haven’t bought his book yet, you should. Trust me on this one!
So, are you ready to take your writing from kind of cool to totally RAD? Then study up, try new things, and write a great story. By taking those three steps, you’ll be on the road to RAD.
We are ten authors who support readers and writers through our writing, author visits, and workshops.
The Nonfiction Ninjas are a group of writers with diverse ideas and a strong belief in The First Amendment. The views expressed in each post are those of the author and may differ from others in the group.
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