Writing Workshop

The first writing workshop that I attended at the writers’ conference was “Bring Out the Child in You:  Writing on the Child’s Level Without Talking Down” by Marsha Hubler.

Marsha stressed that it can be harder to write for children than for adults.  She stressed that we read what we’re going to write, whether it be picture books or chapter books.  She also suggested that we study kids the age we want to write for, as well as studying good authors in what we want to write.

Marsha said that dialogue is very important and that we need to know how kids the age we want to write for are talking.  She also explained the difference between “tags and beats” and explained why beats are better.  “Tags” are things like:  he said, she said, Bruce said, Mom said, etc.  Beats inform the reader who is speaking without using tags and may also inform the reader of something important by using feelings, senses, etc.

She shared a couple of hand-outs with exercises we participated in.  One suggested that one way to avoid talking down to readers is to engage them in exciting narration.  Just because your audience is young doesn’t mean they won’t understand more advanced words if used properly in context.  She suggested that we avoid passive verbs (was, is, seemed, looked, etc.) and be sure to use active verbs.

Marsha also shared a hand-out exercise on point of view.  There were three examples we needed to read and determine whose point of view it was written from, and whose point of view it should be written from.  This exercise made point of view easier to understand.

If you are interested in writing children’s chapter books, Marsha suggested reading books by Joyce Magnin and Nancy Rue for humor.  She also suggested the following specific books:

Here’s Lily by Nancy Rue

Double Trouble by Jenny Dale

The Secret of Wolf Canyon by Marsha Hubler

Dragons in Our Midst (series) by Bryan Davis

You can find out more about Marsha at: marshahubler.com

Though my desire is to write adult fiction, I am not confident that I could write good thriller/suspense stories (my favorites) and so I thought I would write mystery/romance stories, but during Marsha Hubler’s workshop, I felt God telling me via the Holy Spirit that He wants me to write children’s books, so I am focusing on that right now, but hope that God allows me to also write for adults later.

My oldest son said he could definitely see me writing children’s books.

4 thoughts on “Writing Workshop

  1. Hi Kelly, Why would God, any god who LOVES you, not allow you to write for adults at any time you want to? IN my book, and in the opinion of everyone i know, God wants you to do what you do best and learn what you don’t do well to do better. How can you write well, without learning how? And how better to learn than to keep writing???? Please do not give up your dream of writing for adults — or thrillers or whatever you love to read. The best way to learn to write is to read read read, and then look at how the things you read are contracted, word by word, why do you like the way they are written? What does the writer do that makes you so thrilled by them? Don’t let a foolish sense that God won’t LET you write for adults…or wants you ONLY to write for children keep you from your dream. I do not know any God that would be so cruel! Only ourselves believing that we know God’s mind, only WE OURSELVES would be cruel in that way, and sometimes we get the two confused, thinking we know how God thinks. But that is arrogant. I do know that much. Let go and let God, but let God be good and kind and benevolent, too, not cruel and so mean as to forbid you to pursue your writing dream. Okay, enough from me, Sorry about this, but I just felt I had to write something to you. Blessings, Pam


    • Wow, Pam, that is very passionate. Thank you for the comment. I really enjoy getting comments from my readers whether they agree with me or not, as long as they do so respectfully, and you did.
      I appreciate your concern, but I assure you that I am thrilled that the Lord has given me direction. I have been seeking His direction for months before the writers’ conference.
      I do not see God as mean or cruel nor am I arrogant enough to think that I know how God thinks. However, I do believe that God uses the Holy Spirit to guide me, especially when I am seeking His guidance.
      God is good and loving and He knows what is best for me, and I believe that focusing on writing Christian children’s books is a good idea for me right now. I can always attempt to write for adults in the future. I have already begun to read, read, read. I have always been a reader, but now I am reading with a mind focused on learning how the writer wrote, and I am not limiting myself to Christian children’s fiction, though that is my current main focus.
      I believe God impressed upon me to focus on writing for children because there is a real need there. I recently visited a local Christian bookstore and was very disappointed in the options available for boys ages 10-12. I believe I can contribute to this need since I have three boys of my own.
      Also, my oldest son said, as I mentioned in my post, that he can easily see me writing for children.
      Finally, I would just like to say that I think it is selfish and arrogant to think that I should simply do whatever I want/desire without seeking God’s guidance. After all, He created me for His pleasure, and my greatest desire is to bring honor and glory to Him.
      Thanks again for your concern, but rest assured, I am quite happy now knowing what to focus my writing on.


      • Hi Kelly,

        Thank you for not taking my being passionate amiss. For that is all that it was, my passion that people follow their dreams, and write what they need to write… BUT it sounds as if you are doing just what you need to do for yourself right now, and learning precisely what you need to learn, in order to be the best writer you can be, whether it is of children’s books or books for adults. In any event, I hope I didn’t offend you… I was worried because you sounded a little wistful, as if you might be “giving up on a dream” of writing for adults, rather than merely postponing it for later work. IN the 70s we always said to inspire other writers, Write on! As you know, writing for children is a noble profession, and children’s books in and of themselves are enormously important. Good for you, whichever direction you are led in. Blessings, Pam


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