I am very excited to introduce today’s guest blogger for the Unlikely Teachers Series. I always see her around the Verla Kay Blueboards , so I was thrilled to hear about her upcoming release, ELIXIR BOUND. Please give a warm welcome to Katie L. Carroll!
Thanks for having me on the blog Sarah! Having a son (in cyberspace affectionately known as The Boy) has provided me with a whole new perspective on life in general, but it has also blessed me with a new perspective in my writing life, especially because I write for teens and kids. Here are some writing lessons I’ve learned from watching the first year of The Boy’s life.
Keep the Wonder Alive
The world is a wondrous place for the The Boy. We see a bus or a motorcycle drive by and we might cringe at the noise or shudder with the stench of exhaust. The Boy sees a bus or a motorcycle drive by and he shivers with excitement. He must be thinking What is that thing? How does it move like that? It’s so loud and fast! Take the wonder of a child to your writing. Make the world of your story a magical place (even if there’s no actual magic in it). New emotions—think first love—are a whole wondrous landscape for kids and teens to marvel at. Make your readers shiver with excitement at the elements you bring to the story.
Be A Proper Mimic
When The Boy hears a dog bark, he doesn’t say “bark, bark!” or “woof, woof!” He makes a noise that actually mimics the sound the dog makes. His bark is more a throaty “eh, eh.” He notices that bigger dogs often have a deeper bark and smaller ones have a higher-pitched bark and adjusts his own doggy noises accordingly.
I’m a very plot-driven writer and often struggle with voice. Notice the different voices of your favorite authors—the deep bark versus the high-pitched one. What words do they use? How do they string those words together? Try writing a paragraph or two in the voice of your favorite author. Then take a look at your own work and analyze it for a spark of voice. When you find a passage you really like, see if you can bring out your own voice in the rest of the piece.
Look At It With Fresh Eyes
The Boy often surprises me with how he interprets what is going on around him. I have a big family and we’re kind of infamous for the way we sing “Happy Birthday to You” (each of us to our own beat and pitch). Where the rest of us relish in the joyous noise, he picks up on the chaos of it and cries (we’ve learned to bring him into the other room when we sing). Each person’s perspective is a fresh one. What one person loves, another may hate.
Reflect that in your characters likes, dislikes, and opinions. I think this is so important to consider when you’re an adult writing. Just because you’ve heard or seen something a million times, doesn’t mean the kids you’re writing for have. That’s not to say it’s okay to fill your writing with clichés. Do the opposite. Kids don’t know always know clichés, but that also means they’re not going to use them. They have their own unique way of describing and experiencing things, and you should in your writing.
Look At It With Fresh Eyes
Nope, you’re eyes aren’t broken. There’s another lesson here. In the first year of life, pretty much everything is new. The Boy views the world with no prejudices or expectations. This is a great lesson for revising. You’ve finished the first draft. Great! Now put it away. Come back to it with fresh eyes with no preconceived notions about what you thought it was going to be. See what’s really there in the words you wrote as opposed to what you pictured in your head. Sometimes the actual story turns out to be very different from what you intended to write…maybe even something better.
Katie L. Carroll’s debut novel ELIXIR BOUND is available for pre-order from MuseItUp Publishing for your Kindle, Nook, PC, or other device.
Katora Kase is next in line to take over as guardian to a secret and powerful healing Elixir. Now she must journey into the wilds of FawayForest to find the ingredient that gives the Elixir its potency. Even though she has her sister and brother, an old family friend, and the handsome son of a mapmaker as companions, she feels alone.
For it is her decision alone whether or not to bind herself to the Elixir to serve and protect it until it chooses a new guardian. The forest hosts many dangers, including wicked beings who will stop at nothing to gain power, but the biggest danger Katora may face is whether or not to open up her heart to love.
Katie L. Carroll began writing after her 16-year-old sister unexpectedly passed away. Writing was a way for Katie to help her sister live on in the pages of a story. It also made her realize that she wanted to pursue writing as a career. In addition to penning novels for teens and kids, she edits puzzle magazines, plays soccer, and collects signed copies of books. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and son. For more about Katie visit her website at www.katielcarroll.com.