Anastasia Suen

Developmental Editor

Category: critique (Page 2 of 3)

Should I write my book from beginning to end?

gokartrush Go-Kart Rush (ghostwritten by Anastasia Suen)

Q. Should I write my book from beginning to end?
A. Yes and no. Writing a story with a beginning, middle, and end is your goal, but most books don’t reveal themselves in order page by page.

If your book comes to mind from beginning to end, by all means, write it down in that order. And if it doesn’t come to you that way, join the crowd!

“No, I don’t use an outline. Of course, I also don’t write in a straight line; I write in lots of little pieces and then glue them together like a jigsaw puzzle.” ~ The Outlandish Companion by Diana Gabaldon

Yes, some of us write in circles. I write my ideas down and then I circle back and add more. I move up and down, up and down the page adding a tidbit here, a snippet there.

I capture my ideas on paper before I use the computer. The computer is linear and paper is not. So I write on scraps of paper first–notes here, notes there, all over the house. (This is my “plotter” side.)

I also use a notebook to write the first draft of a chapter in longhand as the words come. I write down whatever comes to mind, even the words that don’t make sense yet. (This is my “panster” side.)

These plotter and panster actions are the prewriting step that you see on those Five Stages of Writing charts at schools.

The Five Stages of Writing
  1. Prewriting
  2. Drafting
  3. Revising
  4. Editing
  5. Publishing

The first four stages of writing are thinking and changing stages.

You don’t have to move from beginning to end through the five stages of writing either. For example, revising a chapter of your novel may lead to drafting a completely new scene and to do that, you may need to prewrite with little scraps of paper (plotter) or a blank page that you just fill with words as they come to mind (pantser).

Don’t be afraid of the thinking and changing stages of writing. Let your imagination run wild and have fun–playing with words!

Copyright © 2016 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

How do I write a children’s book?


Q. How do I write a children’s book?
A. Write down your ideas as they come to mind.

Writing doesn’t have to be hard. Just write down your thoughts! You can do that. When an idea comes to mind, when a snippet of a scene pops into your head, write it down and save it. Day after day, week after week, your book will show up on the page–if you give yourself permission to let the words flow.

Trying to edit while you write just leads to frustration! Writing and editing are different hats to wear, different ways of thinking. Trying to do both at the same time just doesn’t work. (This is yet another “been there, done that” situation.)

For the early drafts of my beginning reader Loose Tooth I tried writing and editing at the same time. I went through draft after draft trying to make the story perfect and NOTHING was working. Then I read The Right to Write by Julia Cameron.

“We are forever editing, leaving out the details that might not be pertinent. We are trained to self-doubt, to self-scrutiny in the place of self-expression.” ~ The Right to Write by Julia Cameron

So I gave her approach a try. What did I have to lose? I sat down and wrote whatever came to mind. ALL of it. I captured EVERY detail on the page, even the ones that didn’t make sense. And then the next day, I did it again. I wrote down every word of the story that came to mind, every single word.

After I had the entire story on the page, after it was all written down, I changed hats and started editing. And what happened? Those little details that seemed random at the time made the story work.

Those impertinent details turned out to be the answers the story needed. I just needed to give myself permission to write them down.

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How long does it take to write a children’s book?


Q. How long does it take to write a children’s book?
A. No one knows! What we do know is that there are three steps to becoming a published author.

  1. Write the book.
  2. Revise the book.
  3. Sell the book.

As a rule of thumb, the longer the book, the longer it takes to write. That being said, some books take a long time to figure out even though the book is very short. Yes, it can take years to write a picture book. (My picture book Road Work Ahead was 25 years in the making.)

I’m not saying it takes years to write words on the page. Quite the opposite! It’s easy to sit down and write words. Making those words into a story is the hard part. Shaping a story into a coherent narrative is what takes time.

Hard writing makes easy reading. Easy writing makes hard reading. - William Zinsser

The legendary writing teacher William Zinsser wasn’t the only one who talked about easy reading and hard writing. Check out the Quote Investigator’s page for Easy Reading Is Hard Writing.

Don’t be fooled by the size!

If you want to write a “little” children’s book because you think it will be easy, you will be in for a BIG surprise.

Yes, you can write a picture book in an afternoon. You can write an entire novel in a month . . .

. . . but that is just the beginning of the process.

Easy writing makes hard reading.

To write a book that communicates your story clearly, you have to revise. So don’t write a children’s book because you think it will be easy.

Write the children’s book story that only you can tell.

The stories that only you can tell are worth the time it takes to write hard . . .

. . . so the book is easy to read.

Copyright © 2016 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

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