“Hello, Universe” by Erin Entrada Kelly: A Discussion Guide For Writers

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Discussion questions prepared by Kelly Carey

In Erin Entrada Kelly’s middle grade novel Hello, Universe, three characters come together and find friendship and confidence. By studying Kelly’s novel, writers can examine the use of multiple points of view, the placement of adults in a story, the smart and sensitive hand required when writing about characters with disabilities, and the courage required to let a story start and end quietly.

Use the discussion questions on your own or with a book group to investigate Hello, Universe. As you consider each question, take note of how your own manuscripts apply Kelly’s methods. Continue reading

Meet A Lofter: Audrey Day-Williams

by Sandra Budiansky

It’s the return of our Meet a Lofter series, where we go deep into the lives of our fellow writers. This time we’re talking to the very funny picture book author Audrey Day-Williams. You will find Audrey at many Writers’ Loft workshops and classes.If you happen to see Audrey around the Loft, make sure you say hi! Continue reading

“Mary’s Monster: Love, Madness, and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein” by Lita Judge: A Discussion Guide For Writers

Discussion questions prepared by Amanda SmithPicture1.png

Lita Judge’s biography of Mary Shelley, Mary’s Monster: Love, Madness, and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein, is the haunting story of events and circumstances that led Mary Shelley to write Frankenstein. It is a biography told in free-verse, with illustrations, and reads like a YA novel.  By studying Judge’s novel, writers can examine tight purposeful story construction, word choice and symbolism.

Use the discussion questions on your own or with a book group to investigate Mary’s Monster. As you consider each question, take note of how your own manuscripts apply Judge’s methods.

These discussion questions were inspired by the KidLit Book Club meeting at The Writers’ Loft. We’d love to have you join us. Check out the Loft calendar to find out about our next meeting! Continue reading

World-Building: A Minimalist Approach

By Angela Dell’Isola

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By a virtual show of hands: when I say “world-building,” how many of you immediately think of Tolkien? Or George R.R. Martin? J.K. Rowling?

The term tends to be heavily linked to fantasy and science fiction, because it often implies building something from scratch: producing maps; coining new words, phrases, or languages (back to you, Tolkien!); and constructing full-fledged structures for the governments, economies, and social frameworks of their alternate realities.

This is one approach to world-building, and it’s yielded some pretty fantastic (see what I did there?) results. But is it the only approach? I don’t think so, and it’s not exclusive to fantasy and science fiction. World-building can be an important tool across all shelves, and it doesn’t need to be a 20,000-league dive. Cue “minimalist world-building.” It sounds like a total oxymoron, I know. Continue reading

“Clayton Byrd Goes Underground” by Rita Williams-Garcia: A Discussion Guide for Writers

In Rita Williams-Garcia’s middle grade novel Clayton Byrd Goes Underground, the sudden loss of a beloved grandfather, a disconnect between mother and son, and the young protagonist’s desire to become a Blues musician collide. By studying Williams-Garcia’s novel, writers can examine how to write sound and musical imagery, how to weave adult relationships and points of view into a middle grade novel, and how to use secondary or ancillary characters to create conflict, mood, tension and setting.

Picture1Use the discussion questions on your own or with a book group to investigate Clayton Byrd Goes Underground. As you consider each question, take note of how your own manuscripts apply Williams-Garcia’s methods.

Continue reading

Those (Writing) Games We Play

by Heather Kelly, Founder, The Writers’ Loft

As writers, it can be hard to take ourselves seriously. We write during the in-between times—when the house is quiet because no one else is awake, before and after our day job, and in the car waiting for a child to finish their school day. It can feel like writing is an aside, the first thing to ditch when real life rears its ugly head.

Taking our writing—and ourselves—seriously is the most important step toward success.

But how?

By doing something that might seem counterintuitive.

We drive more effectively toward our goal, and take ourselves more seriously, when we treat our writing like it’s a game. Continue reading

Mapping Out Your Writing Life

by Allison Pottern Hoch

It’s the beginning of the year and everything feels fresh and possible. Whether you’re still chipping away at a work-in-progress, starting something new, or staring down the lane at future publication dates, your writing life lies open before you.

But the wide-open possibility of an entire year doesn’t always jibe with reality—work, deadlines, kids, travel, housekeeping, health, pets. What has worked for me is mapping out a mix of fixed and flexible goals. This helps me have plan, self-motivate, and stay nimble as new opportunities present themselves. Continue reading