Monday, April 23, 2018

Writer's quotes - Paul O'Neil

From twentieth century American writer, Paul O'Neil:

"Always grab the reader by the throat in the first paragraph, sink your thumbs into his windpipe in the second, and hold him against the wall until the tag line."

I first heard this when Bruce Coville gave a speech to our SCBWI conference and I credited this quote to him until he pointed out that he was quoting Paul O'Neil.  Oooops!

What's the 'tag line?"
GOOGLE only gives information about its use in advertising, but one definition I found says it's the conclusion of the action.  Hmmm. The conclusion of the scene?  Or the conclusion of the book?
Take your pick.


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

What courses do you need to be a writer.

Almost every year I'm invited to a Career Day at a nearby school.
One of the questions they have to ask each professional there is -- what education do you need for your job?
I always say, Train for something that interests you. Keep your day job and write in your spare (HA!) time.
For example, many great writers of science fiction actually work with physics or chemistry in their day job.

Writers Write.
Writers can't NOT write!



Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Laura Purdie Salas and creative nonfiction and fascinating facts and

Laura Purdie Salas wrote an interesting take about how writing nonfiction is often a creative process on the Celebrate Science blog today.

I agree with Laura the robots don't write our books.  That would be boring.

I remember one day when I was giving a talk at a school about writing nonfiction when one upset student jumped up and shouted, "How can you write stuff like that.  Nonfiction is boring!"

That stopped me cold. My immediate response was, "Well. If it's boring, I can't write about it.  I ONLY WRITE ABOUT THE INTERESTING STUFF."
Think about it.  The Interesting stuff.
It got so that I included this bit in every talk I gave from then on.
I look for the FASCINATING FACTS.

Where we differ from creative fiction writers is that nobody is desperately waiting for the next book by that famous author... (whoever)   People are looking for a certain subject,  If they're lucky, they find one by a good author who is passionate about the subject, which makes the reader excited about the subject.

Librarians, on the other hand, when they discover a writer who can present nonfiction in interesting ways will always look for other books by that same author, no matter the subject, and will purchase them for their library system instead of books by less talented writers.  (and publishers get a reputation among librarians when they consistently publish either dull or fascinating books.)


Saturday, April 7, 2018

Serendipity

It's amazing the people and events you discover when you are researching a book, especially biographies.




 I call it serendipity:

When I was writing about the Wright brothers, I got connected to
1) the Wright brothers' paper boy,
2) the nephew of a man who was one of the boys who SAW the first flights,
3) another person who pointed out that the actual house the brothers had grown up in and first lived in as adults had been moved to a northern midwest display of old houses. (Wisconsin? Michigan?)
and 4) was driven around Dayton, Ohio by a fellow writer to visit Wright brothers' sites, including a stop at the mansion where Orville Wright lived and died.
And this was with just one of my biographies. For each of them, people came out of the woodwork, or showed up on the Internet, or knew somebody who knew somebody - to help me tell my subjects story.
AMAZING.


Oh, about those boys who 'saw' the first flight?  Actually not exactly true.  It turned out that he and a few friends were peering over one of the sand dunes overlooking the Wright brothers' campsite at what later became the town of Kill Devil Hills.  (yes, they often stayed at a boarding house in Kitty Hawk before setting up camp by the Dunes.)  The boys had never ever heard a gasoline engine before. (this was before cars were common - only cows and horses on the Outer Banks at that time)  So  -- when the brothers started up the engine on The Flyer, popping and sputtering, the boys were so scared of the noise that they ran like hell. (away)
And that's why I didn't take the next step to interview his uncle, since he didn't actually see it happen.


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Nonfiction Monday - on Wednesday today

Understanding—and Teaching—the Five Kinds of Nonfiction




Melissa Stewart has another marvelous article about the different types of nonfiction available to children, in school and out, today.  In School Library Journal magazine.
Click on over to read it in entirety.