Tuesday, May 6, 2008

If You Want to Write... Getting Started

How to Get Started

Part of what I love about running Innovative are the emails I receive from WriTeens and WriTeen parents and friends, asking about how to get started on this whole publishing thing. I probably write much too much in reply, but there's so much to know! And how could I sleep at night if the next Stephen King didn't get published because I didn't tell him about writing conferences?

Here's part of an email I sent a little while ago, that sums up the basics. Later this week I will post the links to a Submissions 101 post I did last year, as well as Query 101.

I really recommend getting a copy of The Young Writer's Guide to Getting Published by Kathy Henderson. It was published in 2001 or 2002, I believe, and many public libraries have them. This book is a fantastic guide to the nuts and bolts of getting short stories and articles published. It also includes a guide to about 100 "markets" or places to get published for young writers.

There's also The Young Person's Guide to Becoming a Writer by Janet Grant, which is also ten or so years old but has some great writing exercises. This is designed to help young writers develop style. Try getting a copy of Writer's Digest, The Writer or other writing magazines from a local bookstore. These "zines" have articles on how to get published, how to write a better sentence, interviews with bestselling authors, etc.

There's also an incredible amount of literature available free on the web, through writing e-zines and blogs. On our site I have "The Best of the Blogs," about ten or so blogs that are really fun to read. [Top right sidebar]

You can pay for a professional editor to look over work, but that is usually very expensive and I don't think necessary. Reading a lot of "writing lit" would help develop one's own sense of editing, etc., and that is the best teacher. Also, check your local area for writer's groups and conferences. Local writing onferences are usually not too expensive and are a lot of fun to attend. It's a great place to hear from different writing experts and get a feel for what's going on.

And to add on to what I said originally, WRITE. NOTHING makes you a better writer than the act of simply writing lots and lots of words on paper, and learning how to write.

For everything else, there's Innovative.


CreatorDetected said...

Hi Gabrielle, I traveled over from Maria's blog at Writer's Digest.

In my humble opinion the aspiring teen writer who may not know how or where to begin writing should first learn to write as if speaking in normal conversation, as if mimicking ordinary conversation. Learn to express one self this way is not difficult as much as it taxes the imagination.

The last conversation one had just moments ago, or a particularly favorite past conversation one can use to always practice with. It's a lesson of editing and pondering for the best words that best capture the moments conversation with written words. Attempting to describe incidents before and after the conversation will follow .

Experiences of life are what the teen writer lacks. They may feel self-conscious; that there is little to consider worth the effort to write about. It's a definite stumbling block. While they wait to experience life perhaps its best if they practice and learn how to express themselves as if in conversation. Consider it a stepping stone, a "first lesson" to develop an unique writing style of their own.

Gabrielle said...

Thanks for coming over!

Excellent advice. I get to read a bit of teen writing through emails and the usual problems are ones you mention here: either they're not believable (lack of experience to make writing believable), or the dialogue is awkward. Many teens often have terrible punctuation and spelling too.. but that is, unfortunately, not specific to our age group.