Writing advice from children’s book authors
Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.
~~ Rudyard Kipling, British journalist, poet, and author of The Jungle Book
Speaking of Rudyard Kipling, maybe you’ve heard? A new movie version of The Jungle Book is being released this month! We’re excited to announce that the first 50 people to register for a Time4Writing course with the coupon code JUNGLEBOOK between now and April 29, 2016 will be automatically entered for a chance to take the whole family to see the Disney flick. And if you register using that code between now and May 15, 2016, you’ll also receive a 5% discount on your course and a Time4Writing Writing Mechanics Resource guide for students. Head to our sign up page to get in on the fun!
If we take Kipling’s thoughts on the power of words to heart, we recognize that teaching writing to students is an enormous responsibility. Parents who have contacted Time4Writing often tell us that one of the main reasons they choose our curriculum is because they want a certified writing teacher to oversee their child’s instruction. They like the idea that someone with not just the training, but a passion for good writing will be their student’s mentor during the elementary, middle, and high school years.
But even before your child got formal writing instruction, he or she likely had a few writing mentors, perhaps even without realizing it. Those mentors might have included Kipling or any of the hundreds of other authors of your child’s favorite books – – the books that they either asked to be read over and over, or stayed up way past bedtime to finish. Like the Time4Writing teachers, these individuals are incredibly passionate about writing. Read on to find out what they have to say about writing, and then consider their advice as you guide your children toward becoming the best writers they can be.
My first draft is usually a mess. Sometimes I become so discouraged that I want to pitch it rather than rewrite it. Never become discouraged or give up because your first draft is a mess. Work hard to revise it, even if you have to do it many, many times! Good writers are hard workers!
~~Katherine Paterson, author of Bridge to Terabithia
You have to write every day – not necessarily in your journal. But you have to do it every day. It’s like practicing a musical instrument – you have to practice and stick with it.
~~Madeline L’Engle, author of A Wrinkle in Time
You have to resign yourself to the fact that you waste a lot of trees before you write anything you really like, and that’s just the way it is. It’s like learning an instrument, you’ve got to be prepared for hitting wrong notes occasionally, or quite a lot, cause I wrote an awful lot before I wrote anything I was really happy with.
~~J.K. Rowling, author of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
I have occasionally listed the elements – each of them leading to the next – of a successful book as 1.character; 2.quest; 3.complications and choices; 4. catastrophe; 5. conclusion and 6.change. I think most writers and teachers of writing would probably agree that some similar list applies.
~~Lois Lowry, author of The Giver
In writing, don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the thing you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us a thing was “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was “delightful”; make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers “Please will you do my job for me?”
~~C.S. Lewis, author of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
What’s even more exciting is putting these nuggets of wisdom into practice! We’re thrilled to report that Time4Writing is helpful in this regard. Here are some examples:
- Want to learn revision like Katherine Paterson suggests? Sign up for our Elementary Informative Writing course
- Need more understanding of the elements of good writing, mentioned by Lois Lowry? Sign up for our High School Essay Writing course
- Want to try your hand at descriptive writing, as proposed by C.S. Lewis? Sign up for our Middle School Paragraph Writing course
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