Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Halloween Writers Challenge

Write a story featuring your young main character, and maybe her or his friends, going trick or treating, or to a party, and wearing costumes that show the protagonist and friends "dressing up" as literary characters. In the story include a reason why the protagonist (and maybe each friend) chose that literary character, and what adventures or consequences happen at the party, or while trick or treating, because of those choices. [This challenge is a variation, for children's writers, of a commentary in a newsletter email sent by - an online book store]

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Challenge From A Historic Children's Author

In a Preface to one of her writings, noted nineteenth century children's author Louisa May Alcott wrote, in part: “There is a sort of fate about writing books of travel that it is impossible to escape.... It is vain to declare that no inducement will bribe one to do it, that there is nothing new to tell, and that nobody wants to read the worn-out story... Sooner or later the deed is done, and not till the book is safely shelved does peace descend upon the victim of this mysterious doom.... The only way in which this affliction may be lightened... is to make the work as cheerful and as short as possible...[with the author confining herself or himself] to the personal haps and mishaps, adventures and experiences, of her [or his] wanderers." Think about what Louisa wrote, considering "books of travel" as more than travel books, and considering as characters the "wanderers" she mentioned, then accept the fate/challenge that she suggested to you -- her fellow writers -- and write a story with your unique touch while following her philosophy as stated above.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Another Writing Challenge for Children's Writers - How Does Your Character React to Setting?

Suppose your young character wakes up one morning in a strange place and has no memory of who s/he is or what her/his life was like before that day. What is this place? What might be important about this place, in general, and to the young character? How might 3 things the character finds in her or his pocket (which you should identify) be tied to the loss of the memories and help her or him regain those memories or her/his identity, or some sense of who s/he is? [Comment: You might think that an Amber Alert would help this young character get back to where s/he belongs, but consider how s/he might help herself or himself aside from this, or why the Amber Alert might not apply to her or his situation]

Friday, April 4, 2008

Writing Challenge for Today - Alternatives

If one takes the challenge to build on something said by an AOL Children's Writers' Group member and Chat visitor, and a noted author of the past (perhaps Willa Cather or Edith Wharton),


Consider: If, as some people claim, all the plots and story settings have already been written, and you are a new writer, or a writer starting to write in a genre new for you, you need to put a unique spin or twist on one of those plots and/or settings to write your own unique creation.


Keeping in mind that you are a writer for children or young teens, and then going a step further than what is stated in the paragraphs above, try this writing exercise:


Consider: If you were to write a story that’s an “up to date” version, or a modern twist on, a story previously written, what would you write?


"Ella Enchanted" and “Enchanted” may come to mind as examples of new twists on fairy tales.


What about twists in other stories? Think: how would you write alternative stories featuring other than the original characters, or places, or plots, or parts of plots?


[To get you started, you might think of “A Kid in King Arthur’s Court” that’s an alternate version of Mark Twain’s “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court”]).


Think of a classic children’s or YA book. Try to replace an all-important place in it with another place.


Which place would you suggest as an alternative and how would the plot change and yet maybe stay similar to the originals?


Also, a bit harder, how would you change characters and then write alternatives to the original story? (Changes may be in who is a main character and who are primary characters like sidekicks to the main character. There could also be new characters).


Also, which plot part in a classic story would you change, and how would the story and characters change because of that?


Would any of this be possible? Sometimes yes. Sometimes no.


Do you feel up to taking this challenge?


I dare you to give it a try!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Writing Challenge For Today - Of Children & Politics

On this the birthday of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, during a presidential election year - think about this:
   PBS TV commentator Bill Moyers recently suggested that viewers offer their suggestions of which books a president should take to the White House with her or him.
   One viewer wrote in and suggested Dr Seuss's THE LORAX, HORTON HEARS A WHO, THE PLACES YOU'LL GO, IF I RAN THE ZOO
    To put some other, innovative, twists on this invitation:
<> think about why that viewer suggested Dr Seuss's books for children
(somewhere at this Moyer's PBS Web page, you can find a link to a video clip with an answer given by the person who recommended these books:

<> think about which book you would suggest that  young members of the First Family bring to the White House, and why.
<>Lyn suggests, for example, in general:
> a book about their young predecessors
> a book by a young predecessor
> books on issues of concern to young people of their own generation
> books that, like Dr Seuss's, can reveal something important that a First Daughter or Son needs to know

Your Challenge: what would you suggest, or what might you try to write, in the categories referred to above, or in another category you might think of, for a young member of the First Family?