A writer’s tools on his quest

There are several pros and cons to being an ‘aspiring children’s writer.’ A pro, for example, is that the phrase aspiring children’s writer however pretentious, is something interesting to say to people when you first meet them. I myself have enjoyed many times someone has ‘oooohed’ or ‘ahhhhhed’ when I’ve told them of my lofty ambitions to become a published writer. A con is that there is a lot of time spent alone tap, tap, tapping away at your laptop without any validation that what you are doing is worth it.

There is something else which falls firmly into both pro and con categories. You are not alone. This is a con because the competition is fierce. Agents and publishers receive hundreds of manuscripts a week. When you finally work up the courage to send yours masterpiece to whichever agents you can be sure it will be at the bottom of the slush pile, that dreaded place that is as vast and it is feared.

But the pro to there being hundreds- thousands- millions- of other people like yourself is that there is plenty of information and resources on how to write, snag an agent and eventually get published. The internet is testimony to this. Online there are countless hopefuls on all the same journey who can use their experience to enlighten others and perhaps make that long and twisted road to publication that little bit easier. This is part of the reason for this blog. I want to share all the best resources I can find to help others who are on the same endless quest I am to getting published. Along the way I’d like to share my experience of writing and crafting my novels too. Whenever I’ve lacked the fire of inspiration I’ve found reading about how other writers craft their stories has been enough to light a match that eventually rekindles the creative flames inside my brain. And perhaps I might even share some of my work down the road too.

So with that fanfare over with I’d like to share three books which I have found helped me hone my writing skills and become a little better at writing and a little wiser at the art of getting published.

Wonderbook- Jeff Vandermeer

I’m sure every writer has had those days when you just can’t seem to pin yourself down to a chair and do that simple task of writing. Your muse has wondered back to Narnia, leaving you high and dry. This is where Wonderbook comes in. It’s a visually lavish tome on how to write and find inspiration, filled with diagrams, humour, illustrations and interviews with famous authors from Neil Gaimen to George R. R. Martin. With names like those you know you are buying something worth while. Billed as ‘the world’s first fully illustrated creative writing book’ the tag line doesn’t disappoint.

The writer’s guide to crafting stories for children- Nancy Lamb

Easy to read and some pretty basic advice, but not to be scoffed at. Even books aimed at beginners in the writing world can be helpfully. This book gives examples of classic children’s fiction, dissecting how the writing is effective and hooks the reader. Want to know how J.K Rowling hooked readers on the very first page of Harry Potter, or why reader felt compelled to read all three of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials? Read this book.

Writers’ & artists’ yearbook guide to getting published

The publishing industry is like a world of its own. Small, meek little writers are expected to delve into this world and somehow navigate their way through without committing any of the hundreds of school boy errors that can send agents and publishers alike throwing your work into the trash can. This is where this book comes in. It had an answer for almost every question you could possibly have. Covering letters? Approaching agents? The dreaded synopsis? Copyright? Contracts? It’s all here.

And so finishes my first blog. While I might not have anything infinitely useful to say yet, these books really do. A hero doesn’t go on his quest without first arming himself with a magic sword. A writer shouldn’t embark on his quest without these books.

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