TIP ~ INKAS ~ #3

Finally returning to our INKAS.  Poetry is  the next form of writing I want to discuss.

PoetryINKA

Working with multiple age levels in poetry can be tricky, something I learned early on in the years I coached Writer’s Club. Levels of understanding vary as much as levels of ability. On the other hand, nothing is more refreshing than to hear the original thinking that goes on in a new poet, especially when they are young. And, there is a form of poetry for everyone.

Poetry expresses our innermost thoughts and feelings. Poems can be funny — think Dr. Seuss — or sad. A poem can tell a story, as in a ballad, or it can describe a single internal moment in a person’s soul. Poetry is recited for entertainment and for learning. It can brighten our memories with a description of a grand day at the beach or touch our hearts with tender lines of love. Poetry connects the mind with the heart and the soul.

You will find that there are all kinds of poetry. There are poems that rhyme every other line, and there are poems that rhyme no words at all. There are poems only two lines long – couplets, and there are poems over 70 lines long: ballads.

Rhyming patterns – referred to as schemes – are described by assigning rhyming words the same letter. So, a limerick, where the 1st, 2nd, and 5th lines rhyme and the 3rd and 4th lines rhyme would be described as having a rhyme scheme of ‘aabba’.


APoemSometimes new poets like the idea of writing poetry because it is short – but that is an illusion. It takes thought to put expression into a few words or phrases. A good poem can take as long to write as a long story. But that doesn’t mean you can’t write a poem quickly, especially if you are excited about it.

One thing that young poets don’t always seem to know is how to present a poem visually.

Poetry is usually not written in complete sentences but in phrases.  It is not shaped like a paragraph but takes shape on a screen or paper in such a way that the reader knows went to stop and start and what the rhythm of the poem is. The look of the poem adds to the pleasure and meaning of the poem.

I find it easier to write a poem completely, then look it over and adjust the punctuation, the capitalization, and the lines so that it reads the way I want it to.


I said earlier that there is a form of poetry for everyone. Below is a  not all-encompassing of some of the different forms of poetry. Some you will recognize; some you won’t. You can read more about poetry forms and how to write it, including such details as meter and stanza, imagery and onomatopoeia, at Poetry 101: Learn about Poetry (where you can also find a link to details on US Poet Laureate Billy Collins’s MasterClass).  I’m not posting this info as a promotion, it’s just a fact that you will find the link there.

Poetryforms

We write for many reasons, and we choose the form our writing takes based on those reasons. For expressing emotion, discerning truth, and unlocking secrets of the universe, there is nothing so useful as poetry. Happy writing!

‘ta

TIP ~ INKAS ~ #2

Moving on to the next group of INKAS, we’re going to look at Children’s Story and Children’s Story with Illustrations.

 

ChildStryNu

 

It was kind of fun, if a little strange, discussing writing children’s stories with kids in grades 3 through 5. Generally, they took it under pretty solemn consideration. Even young writers thought it was serious business! Especially when it came to the idea listed under No. 6, that a children’s story can teach a lesson.

But, starting from the top, because I was working with lower grade school children, I had to keep them considering stories for children younger than they are. Commercially, children’s book are classified in age groups like these:

  • Board books & concept books ……. birth to 4     word count: 0 – 100 words
  • Picture books ….. 3 to 8     word count: currently 500 – 600 words or even less
  • Picture story books ….. 5 to 8 (a hard sell)     word count: 500 – 1000 words, but crossing over 750 is an automatic ‘no’ for a lot of publishers
  • Chapter books ….. 6 to 7 & 8 to 10     word count: 5000 – 20,000 for 6/7 years and older & 20,000 – 35,000 for 8/10 years old
  • Middle grade novels ….. 8 to 12     word count: 30,000 – 45,000 for contemporary stories; science fiction/fantasy can run somewhat longer
  • Tween novels ….. 10 to 14     word count: 40,000 – 55,000 for contemporary; science fiction/fantasy, somewhat longer
  • Older YA novels ….. 15 to 18 &up     word count: 40,000+   (shorter would be a novella)

Not quite a children’s category, but something to know about, is the New Adult category. This is writing for young people age 17 to mid-20s, and has the same word count parameters as the Older YA novels. 

You should also be aware that many adults enjoy reading children’s category fiction, from about Middle grade novels on up.


Source and reference: I refer you to this blog post at Write for Kids for some details on writing for each of these categories, especially if you are new to the children’s writing business.

Children’s stories should always use vocabulary that children are familiar with, but there is nothing wrong with introducing new words. The trick is to provide enough story context – including the use of illustrations – to help the child figure out the the meaning.

Children’s stories have all the traits of stories in general – action, description, dialogue; being about something a child is interested in; and having a proper beginning, middle, and end while being long enough to tell the tale and still fall within word count guidelines.  One of the reasons writing for children is not as easy as some think!

One thing about Children’s stories is that they often teach a lesson, frequently using humor. But be wary. The lesson should be in the takeaway, not in a preaching moment in the story. The solution to the problem should be found by the protagonist, so that the reader can identify with the success. After all, everybody wants to be a hero.

All of these things apply for Children’s Story with Illustrations as well, with just a few additions, as this INKA shows.

 

ChildStryIllusNu

 

#5 is especially important, as a lot of children’s writers have a desire to illustrate their own story. You don’t always have that opportunity, because most publishers will want to sign a known professional whose work they feel they can count on to suit your book. You might have the opportunity to express what types of illustrations you had in mind as you wrote. If you are a professional artist yourself, or a very good undiscovered one, you may be able to convince a publisher to give you a look. Because the two things work together, sometimes the illustrations are used to convey things the actual writing does not.

Every writer has stories to tell – why else would they write? The question here is, do you have a story to tell to children, maybe a story that will help them become the best sort of person they can be? Or just a story to introduce them to life on this (or another) planet?

These INKAS are only an introduction to writing for children, but maybe that introduction is all you need to start.

 

 

 

 

 

TIP ~ INKAS~ #1

INKAS ?   What are INKAS?

INKAS are a tool I created while working with a school writing club. We discussed what makes up a good story (or poem, or essay, etc), and then jotted down our thoughts.

We came up with INKAS for the 20 categories of writing we studied. Each INKA lists the characteristics of the type of writing named on the box.  The image illustrates the definition of INKAS.

 

inkasImage

 

A recent discussion at our writing group showed me that some new writers don’t know (and some experienced writers lose sight of) the basic characteristics of the kinds of writing we do. So I have resurrected INKAS to help with that understanding. We begin with Short Story.

Short Story   –  typical length: 1500 words

  1. Has a complete beginning, middle, and end; is long enough to tell the whole story

May be aimed at any age

  1. May be based on truth, but is usually made up

May have dialogue in it (use proper quotations marks and paragraphing)

  1. Uses description and active words (verbs); remember the 5 senses

 

and a short story

… tells the reader about something

…has events that are important to the main character and that make the reader care.

…is written economically; every word counts