Tag Archives: middle grade

Getting UNSTUCK

5 Dec

For years, I’ve been wanting to write for older kids. I’ve explored a few characters and have written a paragraph here and there, but never built momentum.

As explained in my previous post, in the spring of 2021, an idea for a YA novel popped into my head. I knew it was good, but I remained STUCK.

Thankfully, I was binge-listening to Children’s Book Insider‘s Kidlit Distancing Socials, including a Chris Tebbetts interview. Chris announced a Highlights Foundation online course that he was co-teaching with Erin Dionne: “Getting Your Middle Grade or Young Adult Novel UNSTUCK”.

I took the course, listened to it repeatedly while illustrating other books, and then, over the summer, wrote my novel!

I highly recommend the class, which delivered on it’s promise one hundred percent. I stand before you, UNSTUCK. Able to write. (And in the photo above, I stand before my beat sheet. Perplexed about how to move my plot along… but not stuck!)

Amazing.

“Getting… UNSTUCK” is now an online on-demand course at the Highlights Foundation. Anyone can take it, any time! Click here to check it out.

You’d be wise to connect with the Highlights Foundation to receive course updates. Connect with Erin Dionne and Chris Tebbetts, too! Erin and Chris are excellent writers and excellent teachers. Check out their books, and follow them on social media so you won’t miss notices about any of their other classes or workshops.

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Check out an upcoming Highlights Foundation intensive weekend workshop with Erin Dionne and Chris Tebbetts, along with agent Linda Random: “Beginning Your Novel: MG & YA First Pages, Pacing, & Voice“. Jan 8-9, 2022.

Another great resource: Bad Choices Make Good Stories, Erin Dionne's fantastic new book on writing! Click here for ordering info.

Horizons, Broadened

28 Jul

In Which Violet Writes a Novel

I’m a book illustrator who sometimes also writes, mostly for very small children. Writing was never one of my career goals, and writing a novel was never on my radar, until… ba-boom!

Cue lightning bolt.

Yep. I was struck by a story idea for a kidlit novel. Bonus: the subject was of great interest to my teenage son. He loved the idea, and I loved discussing it with him!

After a few years of talking, it was time to act. This book wasn’t going to write itself! Not knowing where to begin, I poked around on the internet, listened to tons of author interviews, and enrolled in a few online classes. I thought I’d share the highlights in a series of posts for any potential authors out there. Note that I am not affiliated with any of these courses, I’m just sharing my experience as an online kidlit writing student.

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Writing Blueprints

If you want to write for kids of any age but aren’t sure where to begin, or you’ve been trying for a while and feel frustrated or lost, look no further. Laura Backes (of Children’s Book Insider and Writeforkids.org) and her team have put together a Writing Blueprint course for every kidlit category, from picture books to middle grade and young adult novels. Each blueprint is self directed and takes you step by step through the writing process. Because the blueprint system is clear and linear, it can save endless hours spent meandering.

“I guarantee that you are going to write a first draft that wanders in a lot of different directions before you end up where you think you should be going. And you will have huge rewrites ahead of you, that you could possibly avoid, by doing this.”

Laura Backes

Before using the blueprint, I had written nearly 20K words guided by a loose outline. The scenes were good, I loved my characters, and I was thrilled to be writing my book! The more I wrote, however, the more I felt that my story was drifting. I sensed massive rewrites and restructuring in my future, which made the process feel heavy. It seemed the only way to find and work out the details of my story was to keep writing, which would mean even more eventual rewriting.

Enter: The Detailed Outline

After helping me create characters and story ideas, the Middle Grade/Young Adult Writing Blueprint guided me through the process of outlining. Creating a detailed outline for my story was not easy for me, but it was so worth the effort! I am much more at ease as I’m writing now, because I know exactly where I’m going.

There are many components to the Writing Blueprints system besides the outline. Do check it out! You can even sample a Writing Blueprint for free.

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But wait… There’s more!

In addition to the instructional videos and worksheets, the Writing Blueprints package includes lifetime access to the course, and inclusion in a private Facebook group.

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If you are ready to invest in your writing career, Writing Blueprints is a great way to start. Terrific bang-to-buck ratio.

Click here to be redirected to the Writing Blueprints website.

Click here to be redirected to a free trial of Writing Blueprints.

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Want to follow along on Twitter as I write my book? Click here!

What online writing classes have you enjoyed? Let me know in the comment section. :o)