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Young Writers Cafe: Ten story models that will inspire your writing

When writers are looking for inspiration, they often use the tried and proven method of looking around in their life for inspiration. I’ve been there and done that. But, the other day I was reading an article on story models at the  Go Teen Writers website. A story model is a main storyline often used in novels such as the hero’s quest. So, for all of my readers, I have decided to compile my own list of story models. I hope it helps you with your brainstorming!

1. The unpopular hero: the kid who isn’t smart and has no friends saves the day

2. The Society: a group of people with a common cause

3. A Quest: the hero has to go on a quest to find an object that will save the world

4. Cool vs. Not: the heroine has two groups of friends, one popular, the other is not. She is forced to pick between the two.

5. Whodunit? : your typical mystery case

6. Bottled Wishes: the main character gets their greatest wish and eventually Wishes for things to go back to the way life was

There you go. Hope you feel inspired!

Young Writers Cafe: Book Review: Spilling Ink

Spilling Ink is one of the first and best books that I have ever read. I found it under the Writing Category at my local bookstore and after deciding that the title sounded more interesting than a regular writing textbook, I decided to buy it.

Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter are the co-writers of this book as well as the authors of multiple other Middle grade books. In this book, they share tips and tricks that they used while creating their own stories.

For example:
– Brainstorming tips
– How to find the perfect place to begin your story
– Writing dialogue
– Editing and revision
And more…

The only downfall to this book is the fact that it includes no mention of publishing. It is very much a book written for younger writers (ages 8- 12) who aren’t especially serious about publication. I would however, recommend this book to all writers because the advice is inspiring and fresh.

Young Writers Cafe: How to come up with story or book ideas

Have you ever read a book and thought “This is so good. I wish I could write something like this’’. I certainly have. Many times, I marvel at how the author managed to come up with such a fresh idea. For example, a book that we all know is The Hunger Games. I was honestly jealous of Suzanne Collins for having come up with such an intriguing idea. Then, I began to analyse it and I realized something. It wasn’t new. It was the same old gladiator fight combined with a love triangle. What the author did was to put it in a different, unexplored place. She called this one Panem.

If I cannot come up with a good idea, then I try to come up with a unique world to set a story in. for example, a land where all of the people are gifted with magical abilities. From there, I can come up with an idea. For example, what if there was one young girl who was completely normal, with no superpowers at all? I’ve just come up with a rough idea.

The world is so full of ideas. However, the world has been around for millennia’s and most of these idea have been used over and over again and dried up. So how do you come by a fresh one? Reuse these ideas but write them from a different angle and set them in an unexplored place.

Even if the book that you want to write is about a typical teen girl and her struggle for popularity, you can still approach it differently. What if, for example, she’s ADHD, still shops at the same store as her eight year old sister and on the first day, she embarrasses herself by pushing the head cheerleader into the water fountain?

There are also the rare ideas that haven’t been explored yet. While these are hard to come by, they are certainly worth it. In the meanwhile, look all around you for ideas. Keep a journal and jot down everything even relatively interesting that happens to you and read over your passages periodically. You’d be surprised by what you find when it comes to ideas.

Free Novel or Story ideas

Three Thing Ideas:

The first day of school, a jammed locker and an inexplicable not

A bully, a penny and three wishes

A foreign castle, a hairy villain and a broken television set

An invisibility cloak, a school dance and a spilt bowl of punch

A birthday gift, a deceased relative and a superpower

Mix and Match a story from the boxes below

Character choices

settings

props

A new kid on the block

A banquet

A dog

a pampered snob

A moonlit date

a key

A babysitter

A Sadie Hawkins Dance

A snow globe

A bully

A new school

A haunted locker

A traitor

a science lab

An anonymous note

A best friend

A crystal palace

An antidote

a young queen

a basement

The perfect birthday gift

Character Name Ideas

Male Names

Female Names

Last Names / Surnames

Ethan

Bethany

Winslow

Tom

Alexandra

Mcdonald

Luke

Jessica

Smithson

Chase

Scarlett

Tjie

Bertram

Molly

Weston

Geffrey

Darleen

Nolan

Bruce

Cassidi

Mudd

How long should a novel be?

How long should a novel be?

Long ago, before I got serious about publishing, I wrote something that I called a novel. My plan was to write a great book, ship it off to the publisher and make a gazillion dollars off of it and be a New York Times bestselling author. Sound familiar? But no, there was one little problem. That so-called ‘novel’ was less than 10 000 words.

While 10 000 words sounds like a lot, it honestly isn’t. This about this. “Yesterday, I had a sleepover at my best friend’s house”. There. That simple sentence is 10 words. That’s about the average length for sentence, yes? Now if a book was 1000 sentences (a very small amount) then that’s how long 10 000 words is.

In reality, books should be much longer. Here are some averages as well as examples of books in that category.

Picture Books- ages 3-8

Anywhere from 400 to 1000 words. Any more decreases your chances of publication.

Easy Readers-ages 6-9

Anywhere from 2000-10 000 words

Middle grade- ages 9-12

Anywhere from 20 000 words to 40 000 words

Young Adult- ages 13-18

Anywhere from 50 000-80 000 words

Examples of books

Picture books-

If you give a Mouse a cookie: 300

Green Eggs and Ham: 800

Easy readers-

The Adventures of Captain Underpants: 6000

Amelia Bedelia: 2000

Middle grade-

Bud not Buddy: 52 000

Olivia Kidney: 28 000

Young Adult-

Hunger Games: 99 000

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone: 77 000

Looking for the word count of your favorite book?

http://www.renlearn.com/store/quiz_home.asp#quicksearch

Building your writing credits

In my article on query letters, I’ve mentioned before that there is an entire paragraph devoted to your author writing credits. There is a reason for this: to give your prospective literary agent or publisher some material that proves that you are a professional and are willing to put in the time and effort to be published. But as a child, you aren’t really a publishing professional but if you put in the energy, there are ways to become one.

First of all, stay professional in your query letter and keep your tone attentive and polite. When it is time to give your credits, share your previous publications in a humble manner. If you haven’t been published at all before (including magazines, anthologies, ect.) then don’t say “I’ve never been published before ever. In fact, this is the first thing I’ve ever written aside from boring essays for school”. I guarantee that won’t get you anywhere. This article is devoted to building those credits, so there should be no need for this at all.

Find magazines and contests that are targeted towards young writers. I would suggest that you steer clear of ones that charge you an entry fee and instead type ‘free writing contests for kids’ (or teens) Here are some ones that I recommend.

Polar Expressions publishing (Canadians only)

http://polarexpressions.ca/

The Poetry Institute and Young Writers Of Canada

http://www.youngwritersofcanada.ca/

PBS Kids Writing Contest for Kids

http://pbskids.org/writerscontest/

Teen Ink

http://www.teenink.com/Contests

St. Louis County Library

http://www.slcl.org/kids/writestuffcontest

Writing Contests are certainly good ways to gain writing credits. Another way is through magazines.

Pomegranate Words

http://www.pomegranatewords.com/

Teen Ink Magazine

http://www.teenink.com/

Stone Soup

http://www.stonesoup.com/

Creative kids magazine

http://www.ckmagazine.org/

Cicada

http://www.cicadamag.com/

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