can be a wonderful source of inspiration for writers. Even the fact their own darlings want to drag them away from the keyboard
has been the subject of writers’ light-hearted essays. But there are so many other ways children can help with our writing.
Like most things in a writer’s life, it’s a matter of being mentally prepared for those “kidspiration”
For writer and
marketing guru, Jan Verhoeff, her children ARE her inspiration. Jan says, “My world revolves around four precious treasures
sent down from heaven. Like all writers, I need fresh innovative thoughts to put into my work. Luckily, I find them daily
in my children. From the adoring looks they give me, when I read a story I've written, aloud to them, to the inspirational
phrases they spout on a moment's notice if they’re asked a question, they truly enrich my life. Any moment can offer
a new thought, a new idea or wonderful words... words that emanate from my four children. “
if you write for children, you really need to listen to children. Recently, when working on a requested re-write for her children’s
adventure series, Jan’s son strolled through the room.
workin' on Mom?"
series." Jan stared at the computer screen, black print going gray on her as the scene in her book lagged.
"So, have you
told them yet how hard it is to tie your shoe while watching your victim sitting in a tree?" Her son breezed past her, leaving
Jan with a whole new tale to spin. (You can find out more about Jan’s writer and marketing services here: http://janverhoeff.com )
is a writer and speaker based in Northwestern Wisconsin. (For more information about her writing, please visit
http://www.kellycurtis.com ) Kelly speaks of her children as “windows to the world”. One of her stories, “First Mate for a Day”,
(July Issue, Chesapeake Family) centres round Kelly’s 8-year-old daughter’s experience on the 120-year-old skipjack,
Rebecca. Kelly believes getting her daughter’s perspective on the adventure helped her to hone in on the target publication
as well as giving a focus to her notes and photographs.
she can rely on her children to “create chaos and humorous situations that generate great stories.”When she and her husband traveled through Europe, they significantly adjusted the itinerary to accommodate their children. The result was an article in Transitions
Abroad about the playgrounds that linked their destinations (July 2006).
Even when a travel
writer is visiting a familiar place, sharing it with her children can add a new dimension. Being able to witness children’s
experiences can allow a writer to share their feelings and “see” a place with new eyes. It’s a good idea
to have a camera handy to capture those special moments, as Kelly found with this story Budget Travel published recently.
a children’s writer, consider having children critique your work. If you don’t have access to children of your
target age group, you might ask a teacher at your local school if she would be interested in allowing you to share your book
with the class.
age, you could ask children to listen/look for answers to these questions:
What was the best/most exciting/funniest part of the story?
Who was your favourite character? Why?
How did the story make you feel? Why?
these give children a focus for their listening and can help you gain specific, helpful feedback rather than vague generalities
own writing can be a wonderful source of inspiration and information. Here are three stories from children who were in Jogjakarta during the recent earthquake. I believe their tales give
us an insight into the mind of someone who has survived a disaster. They would also make an interesting prompt for a story
set near an active volcano.
tipe my story for you. My name is Aditya and I am 8 years old. I come from India but I was living in Solo when the earthquake happened. Here is my story.
morning at there was an earthquake and when I was sleeping the earthquake
was happening. When I was sleeping the glass was in pieces and fell on my hand. On my hand there is a scratch. Actually
2 little scratches. I was scared but now I am ok.
Story My name is Olivia. I am 8 years old.
I come from Indonesia but I was born in Ohio in America. Here is my story.
morning at there was an earthquake in Jogja. Everyone said that it was Merapi but it was
from pantai selatan ( southern beach). The people from Merapi went to the south. People said that a volcano in Parang
Tritis erupted and they said "it's a tsunami" so they all went to utara (north). The road in front of my house was full
of people panicking and they were so scared. I saw many accidents.
is Rifo I am 8 years old and I am from Indonesia. I live in Jogja. The earthquake came from the ocean south of
Parang Tritis. And everyone said “Nyi Loro Kidul lagi bersalaman with Merapi.” (*) At my Hotel there were many
big cracks. The first earthquake I thought it was from Merapi. And everyone ran outside and I was really scared.
(*) The queen of the south is shaking hands with (the volcano) Merapi.
There have no
doubt been times in your writing life when you promised to greet the next childish interruption with a scream or threat of
impending punishment, but don’t forget to involve kids in your writing. Remind them what a serious and important job
it is, teach them about writing as a means of communication and share your writing with them. It will pay off for both you
and your kids in the long run (or even hop or skip or jump!)
OF THE MONTH
shalt not’ is soon forgotten, but ‘Once upon a time’ lasts forever.”
(Philip Pullman, 1996 Carnegie Medal acceptance speech)
We are interested
in original scripts for our children's productions. To submit a script, consider the following:
Plays must be one act, 45-60 minutes in length * Our target audience is 4-10 years of age
* No more than 4 actors per show, double/triple casting is encouraged *
Plays must be audience interactive and invite the children's reactions * Submit scripts
either in electronic format to the Company Manager firstname.lastname@example.orgOr mail a copy to Company
West 18th Street, Austin,
My favorite personality typing tool is the Enneagram,
http://www.enneagraminstitute.com/ and whether I do it
consciously or not, my characters tend to fall into one of these nine types. It's an ancient system, based on the Seven Deadly
Sins, plus two, and lots of fun to work with, not only in writing but for self awareness.
I use these virtual sticky notes frequently. It’s a free download which gives you the
ability to write yourself a short message and place it on your desktop. I’ve had no problems at all with it, the notes
remain until I delete them and don’t get lost in the paper war on my real desktop.