Posted by: nancyisanders | April 18, 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book in 3 Weeks: Week 2

3-week calendar

You’re here! It’s time to work on the ending of your nonfiction picture book.

Your Editing
Start by spending a few minutes going back over the entire text you’ve written. Get this in your brain as you embark on writing the ending. Tweak and edit if you see anything you’d like to give a quick fix.

Your Mentor Text
For today, start by reading just the “Ending” of your mentor text. You should have noted the page numbers of this section on the plot worksheet you filled out on Wednesday last week. Read this section over again to get the flow/voice/format/structure fresh in your writer’s brain. Most of these books end with a very inspirational ending that ties in with the title. Note how your mentor text handles this.

Your Research
You actually might not need to do much research today since the ending to these picture books is often inspirational and wraps up the story. But if you need more details and facts to weave into your writing, now’s the time to dig those up.

Your Writing Session
Have the plot worksheet and the outline both handy to look at as you’re working on writing, actually writing, the ending of your first draft. Again, many of these picture books end with an inspirational thought, so if your mentor text does, make yours be inspirational as well. Try reading it aloud if it helps. Pretend you’re reading it to inspire a group of kids to make a difference in their world.

After your writing session is finished, take a few moments and plug in footnotes for each of the facts you decided to use (if any).

Then give a cheer! You’ve made it this far. Hurray!

Posted by: nancyisanders | April 17, 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book in 3 Weeks: Week 2

3-week calendar

The goal today is to write the first draft of the second half of the middle.

Your Editing
Start by spending a few minutes going back over the text you wrote yesterday. Tweak any glaring spots to flow better. If this were a chapter book, it would also help to spend a couple minutes editing the previous chapter. But since this is a picture book, it might help you to read back over everything you’ve written so far.

Your Mentor Text
For today, start by reading just the “Second Half of the Middle” of your mentor text. You should have noted the page numbers of this section on the plot worksheet you filled out on Wednesday last week. It’s the second half of the middle. Read this section over again to get the flow/voice/format/structure fresh in your writer’s brain.

Since we’re starting to wrap up our story and head it toward the end, it also might help to read your entire mentor text today to see how this section takes what happened in the beginning and propels your MC toward the end.

Your Research
Focus on reading sections of your research books that have to do with the material you need for writing this section.

Your Writing Session
Have the plot worksheet and the outline both handy to look at as you’re working on writing, actually writing, the second half of the middle of your first draft.

After your writing session is finished, take a few moments and plug in footnotes for each of the facts you stated.

If you’ve reached this point and are having difficulty writing anything at all, just remember…this only needs to be 800 words. You can do this. Don’t worry that it’s not perfect or not as good as your mentor text. It won’t be. Why? Because this is a first draft.

Writing usually takes layers. The first layer is to get the first draft on paper. Then you can take that and rework it and revise it and cut and paste and reorganize and polish it over upcoming writing and editing sessions.

But you can’t do any of that if you don’t yet have a first draft from beginning to end. So get this section written. Because tomorrow we’ll be working on the end! You’re almost there.

Posted by: nancyisanders | April 16, 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book in 3 Weeks: Week 2

dog on wall HPIM0501_2

On today’s calendar date that we’re following to write our nonfiction picture book in 3 weeks, we’re writing our Turning Point.

Think of it as this dog I saw yapping at my husband Jeff and me as we walked past his yard. Picture your main character standing on a wall. It’s about to crumble underneath him. This will propel him toward the end of the story.

Your Editing
Start by spending a few minutes going back over the text you wrote yesterday. Tweak any glaring spots to flow better.

Your Mentor Text
For today, read just the “Turning Point” of your mentor text. You should have noted the page numbers of this section on the plot worksheet you filled out on Wednesday last week. It’s the middle of the middle. Read this section over again to get the flow/voice/format/structure fresh in your writer’s brain.

Your Research
Focus on reading sections of your research books that have to do with the material you need for writing your turning point.

Your Writing Session
Have the plot worksheet and the outline both handy to look at as you’re working on writing, actually writing, the turning point of your first draft. Once again, these two worksheets will be your roadmap, your GPS system, that you follow as you sit down to write.

This will probably be your shortest writing session of all. In some books, it’s just one word. In others, it’s a very short segment of the pivotal scene of your story. Just remember, though, the turning point takes your MC from the beginning of the story and propels him toward the finish line with no turning back.

Posted by: nancyisanders | April 15, 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book in 3 Weeks: Week 2

When I get in my writing rhythm, I often include a self-editing session right before I sit down to write. This accomplishes 2 purposes:

1) I do a quick edit of the section I just wrote.

2) It helps my brain dive back into the manuscript.

Your Editing
So today, spend a few minutes going back over the text you wrote yesterday. Tweak any glaring spots to flow better.

Your Mentor Text
For today, read just the “First Half of the Middle” of your mentor text. You should have noted the page numbers of this section on the plot worksheet you filled out on Wednesday last week. Read this section over again to get the flow/voice/format/structure fresh in your writer’s brain.

Your Research
Focus on reading sections of your research books that have to do with the material you need for writing the first half of your middle.

Your Writing Session
Have the plot worksheet and the outline both handy to look at as you’re working on writing, actually writing, this section of your first draft. These two worksheets will be your roadmap, your GPS system, that you follow as you sit down to write. As you write, if you get stuck because you don’t know the research to back up what you’re trying to say, you have a couple of options.

One thing you can do is just type XX and come back to it later so you can continue your writing flow now.

Another option is to just go dig up those resources to give you the info you need. If you choose the second option, however, don’t get lost in the research right now. Your goal is to finish the first half of the middle today, so come back to writing ASAP.

After your writing session is finished, take a few moments and plug in footnotes for each of the facts you stated. I like to highlight facts that need footnotes in red in my manuscript so that I remember to go back in and include at least 3 sources for each of them or 1 trusted primary source.

Posted by: nancyisanders | April 14, 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book in 3 Weeks: Week 2

3-week calendar

As we’re starting out on our second week of writing a nonfiction picture book in 3 weeks, I wanted to give you a heads up that this week is a holiday week for many of us. It’s Easter break at my husband’s school and he’ll be home all week. I know I’m going to have to adjust some of these writing sessions to fit my holiday schedule and you might need to as well.

Go ahead and use the blank calendar I provide to readjust the schedule to fit your personal needs. And if you haven’t yet downloaded either the 3-Week Nonfiction Picture Book Calendar or the 3-Week Blank Calendar, you can find both at the link of my writing buddies, “Writing According to Humphrey and Friends.”

This week we’ll be concentrating on writing the actual first draft of our picture book manuscript. I’ve broken the writing into 5 sessions, so for each session you only need to be writing about 200 words or less. You can do this!

Your Mentor Text
For today, read just the “Beginning” of your mentor text. You should have noted the page numbers of this section on the plot worksheet you filled out on Wednesday last week. Read this section over again to get the flow/voice/format/structure fresh in your writer’s brain.

Your Research
Focus on reading sections of your research books that have to do with the material you need for writing your beginning. If you’ve been doing tons of sweeping overviews of your topic, today is the day to focus on the facts behind what you want to say in the beginning of your manuscript.

Your Writing Session
Have the plot worksheet and the outline both handy to look at as you’re working on writing, actually writing, the beginning section of your first draft. These two worksheets will be your roadmap, your GPS system, that you follow as you sit down to write.

At this point, let go of any critical comments your brain might be trying to say and allow your creative side to speak up. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect (It CAN’T be because it’s a first draft!) and try not to stress out about it. Try most of all to enjoy the magic of the moment of bringing the first shining sunbeams of your thoughts to light.

After your writing session is finished, take a few moments and plug in footnotes for each of the facts you stated. I like to highlight facts that need footnotes in red in my manuscript so that I remember to go back in and include at least 3 sources for each of them or 1 trusted primary source.

Posted by: nancyisanders | April 11, 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book in 3 Weeks: Week 1

DIGITAL CAMERA

One more hour of research.

One more time to read your mentor text.

Now you’re ready to make the outline for your own nonfiction picture book. You can download a blank outline to use on the site of my writing buddies, Writing According to Humphrey and Friends. Just scroll down to find the OUTLINE FOR A NONFICTION PICTURE BOOK. It’s available as a one-page worksheet to print out and fill in by hand or you can download it as a document file to type into on your computer.

CLICK HERE for tips on outlining your story’s BEGINNING.

CLICK HERE for tips on outlining your story’s MIDDLE.

CLICK HERE for tips on outlining your story’s ENDING.

By taking time to brainstorm and plan key plot points of your story this week, you’re creating a roadmap to follow next week when you sit down to actually write your story. Don’t feel as if these ideas are written in stone. They’re just here to guide you in the right direction.

If you’ve been diligent about getting this all done and up-to-date, take a breather! Go ahead and relax so you’ll be ready to go again next week. But if your schedule has been hectic and you’re a little behind, go ahead and use this weekend to catch up if you can.

But most of all, have fun!!!!!

Posted by: nancyisanders | April 10, 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book in 3 Weeks: Week 1

By now you’ve got several hours of research under your belt on the topic you will be writing about.

This research will make the next task go so much smoother!

It’s time to chart the plot of your own nonfiction picture book. CLICK HERE for tips on how to do this.

And now it’s time to pick a working title for your manuscript, if you haven’t already done so. For strategies and a worksheet to help you, CLICK HERE.

Posted by: nancyisanders | April 9, 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book in 3 Weeks: Week 1

3-week calendar

After you log in an hour of research on your topic, today is a good day to focus on your mentor text.

Read your mentor text again, from beginning to end.

Each time you read this picture book, it trains your brain to write in this format and with this structure and with this type of voice and with this word count.

After you’re done reading, go ahead and plot the chart of your mentor text. Use the Basic Plot Worksheet A you can download here.

CLICK HERE for strategies on how to chart the plot of the picture book, Those Rebels, John and Tom.

CLICK HERE for strategies on how to chart the plot of the picture book, So You Want to Be President.

CLICK HERE for strategies on how to chart the plot of the picture book, The Camping Trip that Changed America.

Use the same strategies to chart the plot and structure of your own mentor text.

And chances are, snippets of phrases or even entire paragraphs of text might be dancing through your thoughts. If they are, go ahead and write these down so you won’t lose them. Don’t try to hold back your brain from creativity just to keep on a calendar’s schedule.

If you’re raring and ready to start writing, go ahead and write the segments that are begging to come forth. Just don’t feel pressured to sit down and write yet if your mind is still like an empty sponge soaking up all the research and facts about your topic. We’ll have time to write next week.

Posted by: nancyisanders | April 8, 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book in 3 Weeks: Week 1

3-week calendar

There are three main tasks to focus on today as you’re working on the first draft of your nonfiction picture book.

1) Type up your bibliography.
Many writers save this for last, but I like to do this early in my journey when I’m working on a new book. I just take a stack of books I want to use in my research and build the bibliography right at the start. Often I include a list of all the children’s books I’ve gathered from the library because even if I don’t actually use them for my research, they make great resources to include in the back if I list “Student Resources” or I can recommend them on a website I build if the book gets published. For more tips on creating your bibliography, CLICK HERE.

2) Research 1 hour.
It will really make the actual writing process go much, much better if you pack in at least 1 hour of research every day this week (and next!).

3) Choose Mentor Text
This is the day to decide which nonfiction picture book will be your mentor text. This will be the one you study to learn specific skills about creating a nonfiction picture book. Once you’ve chosen it, type it out word for word. There are so many benefits to doing this.
A) It trains your brain for writing this exact type of book.
B) It helps build your stamina to write this word count when you sit to type it out in one sitting.
C) You can use this Word document to check stats quickly for paragraphs, sections, or pages in the published book for info such as word count and readability level.

Posted by: nancyisanders | April 7, 2014

Welcome to My World

If you want to join in on some of the fun that’s going on today and tomorrow, you can hop on over to these sites:

I’m helping celebrate the launch of an all-new group blog for children’s writers, GROG! They invited me to share a testimony of how I have landed so many book contracts in my career, so they posted my article, Which Came First, the Chicken or the Egg? Read the post, get inspired, and cast your vote on which side of the coop you’ve experienced success as a children’s writer.

And tomorrow join me at 6:00 PM Eastern Standard Time on the awesome Internet radio show, Christian Devotions SPEAK UP! We’ll be talking about one of my books, Depression: What’s a Christian To Do? I hope you’ll join in the fun!!!!!

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