Sunday, June 17, 2018

Strengthening Writing with Power Verbs: Letters A-G




         As writers, we want our readers to be drawn into and enveloped by our short story or novel, by anything we write. Boredom loses their attention quickly. Showing, using active voice, creates reading excitement. To avoid passive voice and to have active voice, writers use power verbs. To know some power verbs, I discovered a list, author unknown, and added to it. Now, I will share the list I have to date, from A through G this article.

         Let's begin with some verbs beginning with the letter A:
• Advance
• Advise
• Alter
• Amend
• Amplify
• Attack
An example of using such verbs includes using advise rather than tell, when the verb advise fits: Mary told John not to skip school; Mary advised John not to skip school.

         Next, we will look at a few starting with B:
• Balloon
• Bash
• Batter
• Beam
• Beef
• Blab
• Blast
• Bolt
• Boost
• Brief
• Burst
• Bus
• Bust
Again an example, the mortgage interest increased; the mortgage interest ballooned.

         Some verbs start with the letter C:
• Capture
• Catch
• Charge
• Chap
• Chip
• Clasp
• Climb
• Clutch
• Collide
• Command
• Crackle
• Crash
• Crush
Writers often over use take or took. When possible, we can use more powerful verbs: Mary used her camera to take a photo of the scene; Mary used her camera to capture the scene. Not only is "take" avoided, but the sentence become tighter, more concise.

         Next, we add a few verbs that begin with D:
• Dash
• Demolish
• Depart
• Deposit
• Detect
• Deviate
• Devour
• Direct
• Discern
• Discover
• Drain
• Drip
• Drop
How often do we have someone run? Perhaps we can have a person dash across the street rather than run.

         Now comes some verbs commencing with the letter E:
• Eavesdrop
• Engulf
• Enlarge
• Ensnare
• Erase
• Escort
• Expand
• Explode
• Explore
• Expose
• Extend
• Extract
• Eyeball
He led her through the maze; he escorted her through the maze.

         Shall we explore some power verbs with F?
• Fish
• Frown
• Function
• Frustrate
• Fancy
John dislikes the color brown. John frowns on the use of brown.

         One more list of verbs for this time, power verbs beginning with the letter G:
• Gaze
• Glare
• Glisten
• Glitter
• Gobble
• Govern
• Grasp
• Grip
• Groan
• Growl
• Guide
Mary looked at the valley below. Mary gazed at the valley below.

         I keep the full list handy when I write because the thesaurus found with MS Word often doesn't have the best list of synonyms, and it doesn't have any suggestions if I can't express what I need in one word. I will add power verbs from the next seven or eight more letters in a month.


 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

How to Work When the Kids Are Home Too





School is winding down around here, so that means the kids will soon be home for two months. For a writer, that can bring with it challenges. During the school year, the kids are gone for six or more hours a day. Summer comes and suddenly your time is no longer your own. You want to spend time together. They want you to drive them places. How can the work-from-home parent manage it all?

Working from home, while the kids are there too, doesn’t have to mean burning the midnight oil just to keep up with your to-do list. Here are a few ways you can remain productive, keep the kids occupied, and still leave room for family time.

Adjust Your Schedule

I'm a firm believer that productivity is tied to finding a work schedule that is best for you. With the kids home, however, that schedule might not be practical.

Consider getting up a bit earlier than usual. While this might not be easy all year long, it is a temporary solution that can help you accomplish your weekly goals. Make sure you continue to take advantage of time spent in waiting rooms or at your child's practice (for us it's soccer) to get additional work done.

Take More Frequent Breaks

While it might seem counterproductive to take more breaks during the day, you’ll get more done if you don’t have to listen to, “I’m bored!” every five minutes.

Set a timer. When it goes off, put your work down and spend time with the kids. Read, have a picnic lunch in the backyard, or play a game together.

Easy Arts and Crafts

Nowadays, there are so many arts and crafts kits available, and ideas on blogs or Pinterest, that there is bound to be something your children will like.

A good way to transition from family time back to work time is to have arts and crafts set out for the kids. When you’re done playing, let them choose what they want to create. Read the instructions together and then let them know you need to work until the timer rings again. Make sure to have other simple activities such as molding clay, paints or coloring books and crayons available in case they get bored with what they are working on.

If they distract you, remind them that you can’t be interrupted until the timer goes off. As long as you consistently get up and spend time with them when promised, the kids will learn to respect your work schedule.

Mommy’s or Daddy's Little Helpers

Young children love to help out. Take advantage of this by allowing them to dust or sweep the floor. Will it be perfect? No. But it will be good enough. Older children can do the laundry, wash dishes, empty the trash or clean the living areas so that you can spend more time together later.

Play Dates

I wasn't always a huge fan of play dates. Spending time dropping off the kids and then driving home, not to mention wasting time talking with another parent during drop off and pick up, seemed counterproductive. But even one hour of uninterrupted time can make a difference in how much you accomplish.

Schedule regular play dates throughout the summer. This will keep kids in touch with their friends, and parents who take turns hosting play dates at their houses get some much needed relief. Day camps can also be a chance for your children to interact with their peers while allowing you the freedom to work without guilt.

Summer is a fun time for families. It can also be a productive season for you. With a few simple changes, you can work at home even when the kids are there too.

Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of Little Shepherd, A Christmas Kindness, Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving and the recently released, Amos Faces His Bully. A blogger and book reviewer, she lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two daughters. She also has a son who is married. Visit Cheryl online at http://ccmalandrinos.com and her children’s book blog at https://childrensandteensbookconnection.wordpress.com

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Ingredients for the Perfect Picture Book

Writing for young children can be tricky. It’s not as straight forward as writing for adults. You can’t use your own vocabulary and you need to be careful of age appropriate storylines. You also need to introduce your main character immediately.

It’s also important to keep in mind that children don’t have the same comprehension level as an adult, so all aspects of the story need to be clear and geared toward the age group you’re writing for.

So, what exactly does a children’s writer need to include in a picture book?

Let’s go over the basic ingredients of picture books:

1. The story should include: a surface level, an underlying meaning level, and a take-away level. This means young children should be engaged by it; older children should get a little deeper meaning or realization from it; and parents or the reader should be able to see the take-away value.

2. The story should be written with a 50/50 formula. Be sure to allow for 15 or 16 illustrations (a picture book usually has 32 pages). And, allow the illustrator to tell part of the story. Picture books are a partnership between the author and illustrator. For example: Instead of telling the reader that John grabbed his favorite blue shirt with red and yellow footballs on it, just write that John grabbed his favorite shirt. Your illustrator will know how to show the scene.

3. Children love action and need to be engaged so be sure to include action. As children are used to TV, videos, and movies, writers need to account for their waning attention spans.

4. Show rather than tell. The ‘powers that be’ in the children’s publishing world frown upon telling a story.

5. The story should have a flow or rhythm and structure to it.

6. The story should have predictability. This pulls children in. They think they know what’s going to happen next based on what’s happened before in the story.

For example: In the story Caps For Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina, a group of monkeys took a peddler’s caps and put them on their heads. The peddler tried to coax the monkeys to give back the caps, but every action the peddler took, the monkeys mimicked. They stomped their feet, shook their hands, but they wouldn’t give the peddler back his caps. Finally, in anger, the peddler threw his own hat from his head to the ground.

Can you see a child's mind working and thinking each time the peddler does something else? She is going to guess that the monkeys will mimic each action.

7. Finally, the story should have an unexpected ending relating to something that happened in the story. We'll go back to Caps for Sale. The peddler tried everything and finally, in anger and not realizing, he threw his hat to the ground. What do you think the monkeys did? Down came all the caps.

"Ah," the reader will say, "he should have done that in the first place."

Along with these basic ingredients, there are a couple of toppings needed:

1. Use age appropriate words.
2. Use age appropriate storylines.
3. Be sure to have your main character (point of view) speak first so the child/reader will quickly know who the protagonist is.
4. Use proper grammar and punctuation.
5. Have only ONE point of view.

Now you can cook up a top-notch picture book!

This article was originally published at:
http://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/2015/11/22/ingredients-for-the-perfect-picture-book/

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author, successful children’s ghostwriter, and online author platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing. For must-know writing and marketing tips, get free access to The Writing World.