As a beginner trying to start writing your winning novel, you will hear a myriad of comments like, “Just sit down and write”, “Just show up”, or “Write a little bit every day”.
All of these comments have some truth to them and can be viewed as encouragement when your in the middle of writing your piece of fiction, however, I believe it’s just as important to get down to the nitty-gritty, and remember the basics of what writing a story really entails.
To that end, I want to introduce the start of a series called Beginner Basic Training. I’m going to spend the next six (6) Wednesdays discussing the essential pieces to writing great children’s fiction. Each post will answer one of the important questions regarding writing a piece of kidlit fiction and what you should be implementing, directly or indirectly, into your writing. Think of this as the tactical skills and best practices that will be the foundation of your craft.
When I was teaching English and journalism to high school students, one of the very first things we covered each year were the six questions that every writer needed to ask and answer, whether they were writing a first person editorial about the latest theater department performance for the school newspaper or writing a research paper on eating disorders for their junior English class. Each of the following six needed to have an answer. Do you know the Five Ws and H? Let’s refresh your memory.
I think when we decide to write a picture book or chapter book we get so wrapped up in what comes next (finding a publisher, editing, marketing, etc.) that we don’t take the time to really understand the answers to these specific questions before we begin. While there is a lengthy list of literary devices a writer should pay attention to ranging from foreshadowing to conflict to tone (and we’ll get to those in time), educators know these six questions are an important reading strategy, and the truth is they are the most fundamental pieces that differentiate a terrific book from a just okay book. It will help you as you begin writing your story to be able to answer as many questions as you can beginning with the Five Ws and H.
Join me next week, as we dive into the first of the questions, the WHO of your story.