- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Writer's Digest Books (December 4, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1599635763
- ISBN-13: 978-1599635767
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 95 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #196,974 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Writing Irresistible Kidlit: The Ultimate Guide to Crafting Fiction for Young Adult and Middle Grade Readers Paperback – December 4, 2012
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About the Author
Mary Kole has worked at Chronicle Books, the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, and now spends her days as a Senior Literary Manager at Movable Type. She holds her MFA in creative writing from the University of San Francisco, which is where she cemented her love of learning and teaching the crafts of writing and storytelling. Mary blogs at Kidlit.com, named one of the "101 Best Websites for Writers" by Writer's Digest Magazine for three years running, and lives--and explores the vibrant food scene!--in Brooklyn.
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Disregard the 'Kidlit' name in the title. This book is for every writer in every genre. It is thoughtfully formatted as well so that each topic is clearly set out. Each topic is explored from the point of view of a publisher and an agent so the craft insights are pure gold for authors.
I don't know who this Mary Kole is, but from now on if I see a writing craft book with her name on it I will hit the 'one click purchase' button without a second thought. She respects writers. She feels for writers. She understands writers. She knows exactly what insights writers need as they work.
When I read McKee's 'Story' I was grateful for the knowledge he packed into his book, but I felt slapped about. When I read Kole's 'Writing Irresistible Kidlit' I wanted to have her children. Why, because on every page the approach she takes makes sometimes wonderful ideas to pop into your head as you read - and then again later as you reflect on what you have read.
Every page is wise and rich and full of craft and works to stimulate your imagination. How? The insights and the examples are perfectly tuned and they resonate in your writer's dreamscape and the music they make inspires. With no other craft book on writing have I needed to have a notebook next to me just for new ideas.
This is wisdom that you remember as you are dropping off to sleep - that dreamtime that brings new ideas into the world. You absolutely must have a notebook with you if you intend reading Mary Kole's book.
In summary then - possibly the very best book on writing craft I have read in 25 years.
Kole gears the text towards children's writers mainly by providing ample examples from MG and YA books. (Similar snippets and examples are found in most writing books and for some they may do the trick, but I personally prefer to read examples in context.) Overall, Kole does a good job presenting the elements of the craft. I would read these, but do it critically, because writing is not a game with a fixed set of rules. Anyone who reads real books (even bestsellers) with these writing rules in mind know that they are broken all the time, so (1) readers don't know and don't care much about these rules, and (2) the only fixed writing rule is 'what works, works'.
If I may mention one thing that I didn't like about this book, it is when Kole (and the authors and publishers she quotes) tells us what not to do, sometimes in a slightly bantering tone. Which types of characters to stay away from, for example. I would say that many of the most memorable characters in fiction are stereotypes on one level or another. Harry Potter is just one example. Stereotypes abound, so it's clearly not about what these characters do in the plot. It's about how you write them and how they come alive on the page. Everything in writing is about application and workmanship, not about dos and don'ts. And teaching by negative example isn't always very effective. Negative examples (showing us what not to do) are often limiting and confusing, whereas positive examples give us models to strive for.
At the end of the day, this text covers most of the basics and I would recommend it for those who haven't read much in the genre before. At any rate I would stay way from the Kindle version of the book, as the advanced formatting with quotes and boxes doesn't work well on the screen. To those who have read a couple of these books I would heartily recommend Elizabeth Lyon's Manuscript Makeover -- a gem that I find myself dipping into a lot. Lyon covers all the craft elements of Kole's book in greater depth and also provides invaluable advice on the revision process. And if/when you are fed up being fed the rules of the craft, read Stephen King's On Writing. It's an eye-opener.
Finally, for what it's worth, you don't learn to ride a bike by reading books about it. You have to get on a bike to see what works and what doesn't. You learn to write in the same way -- butt in chair, writing. These craft books will be useful to help you diagnose problems in a text that doesn't work, but they are no substitute for your own work and reflection on it.
In addition to audience-specific information, the book is a thorough workshop in the craft of creating story - plot, theme, character development, scene structure, and finally, marketing of the finished manuscript. Bonus Tips, From Authors and Editors include examples and broader experience from other experts than the author. Worksheets encourage application to work in progress.
I've read, dog-eared, written in the margins, and am re-reading as I work on my own MG story. I KNOW without any doubt that my story is much better because this book is now part of my library. This is not the only craft book a writer should have, but it is a fine addition to the library - right up with McKee's "Story" and Maass' "Writing the Breakout Novel." Get it; you'll like it.