Posts Tagged Janice Hardy

Notes From a Writing Workshop

As Co-Regional Director of Florida’s Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, I help organize and attend two fairly large conferences per year. This past weekend, we held our Mid-Year Workshop at Disney World, and I was again astounded at the generosity of our presenters who shared so much of their knowledge.

I couldn’t possibly summarize the whole of what was presented and shared in handouts, but the following is a tiny taste of the advice that resonated with me and might with you as a writer and/or a discerning reader of middle-grade fiction.

From Janice Hardy, author and creator of Fiction University

On avoiding info dumps:

  • Keep the information you need to get across in the point-of-view of a specific character and let that character have an opinion on what he or she is talking about.
  • Let the info be triggered naturally by what’s going on in the scene.
  • Slip the info in during an argument, as people say all kinds of things during a fight, and it’s believable.

Your ultimate plotting test:

If you took a specific scene out, what wouldn’t happen? If nothing would change, then the scene is probably doing nothing to affect the story.

On setting:

  • A well-developed setting grounds readers in that world.
  • Setting provides inherent conflicts and obstacles to struggle with. (If you moved the story or scene to a different location what would change?)

From Agent Michael Stearns, Upstart Crow Literary

 On writing middle grade:

Middle grade stories are often outwardly focused, i.e., things happening to the character can be more important than what happens within the character. Although “that matters very much to the climax of the book, when the outward events trigger an inner change.”

On writing a book:

Write a thousand words a day of your work-in-progress. No more. No less. Stearns says the number can vary a bit, but writing every day makes it easier to enter the “fictive dream.”

From Best-Selling Writer, Lisa Yee

On writing your villain:

Try to show a reason your villain acts the way he/she does. Your villain needs a back story, too.


From the Middle Grade Workshop with Lisa Yee, Alexandra Penfold, and Tricia Lin

  • MG fiction has Main Character looking out into the world
  • MG has hopeful perspective
  • MG characters don’t necessarily dissect their feelings; they just feel them

MG years are an age where you want to be an individual, but you also want to belong.

Many thanks to these professionals for sharing their knowledge.


KidLit Summer School


Artwork by Joyce Wan

Summer school? Ugh. Who wants to be stuck indoors while everyone else is playing outside in the sunshine. Missing picnics, pools, parties, and fun.

But what if you could hang out with the cool kids and have some real fun? What if you could do something you’ve always dreamed of doing – write a book?

Here’s your chance to learn from a strong line-up of multi-published children’s authors, editors, and agents. Best of all, these summer workshops are FREE. Beginning July 20, 2015, visit KidLit Summer School for posts filled with information on how to write children’s books.

This summer the focus is on plotting. You’ll have an opportunity to try a variety of plotting tricks and techniques for different genres. Learn how published authors stay motivated, come up with ideas, and turn those ideas into finished stories. Each post will have plotting secrets as well as exercises you can try. And best of all, KidLit Summer School will be giving away plenty of prizes — autographed books, professional critiques, and swag. Check out each post for the special giveaways.

Here are some of the faculty members with a quick peek at only one of their books, but there are plenty more—books and authors. If you sign up, you’ll see the list of all the wonderful teachers before opening day.

Learn from authors Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, Kami Kinard, Marcie Colleen, Dawn Young, Leeza Hernandez, Joyce Wan, John Claude Bemis, Janice Hardy, Laurie J. Edwards, Megan Miranda, Tammi Sauer, Tracey Baptiste, Amy Dominy, Jen Malone, Courtney Pippin Mathur, Heidi Schulz, and Lisa Lewis Tyre.

Agents and editors who are participating include Rotem Moscovich, Jenne Abramowitz, Sean McCarthy, and Marie Lamba.

KidLit copy

Sound like fun? Here’s the link to sign up.

And if you don’t want to wait until the 20th to work on your writing, check out last year’s blog posts on characterization here. Scroll down to last summer’s lessons. It’s a great way for writers of any age to improve their writing craft over the summer.

About the Author

Laurie J. Edwards loves summer school so much she’s spending 6 weeks at Hollins University’s MFA program in Children’s Writing and Illustrating as well a participating in the KidLit Summer School as a faculty member. She’s looking forward to her five book releases in August and September: Her Cold Revenge (Switch Press), The Forget-Me-Not Keeper (illustrations, written by Susanna Leonard Hill), Imperial China, West African Kingdoms,  & Ancient Egypt (Cengage). Read more about Laurie and her books on her blog, her website, Facebook, and Twitter (@LaurieJEdwards).