10 articles for MG and YA genre authors to read this month: September

1024 512 Writer and the Wolf Editorial

It’s September already – how did that happen? This has a busy month for me as my four-year-old son finally started school! It’s all quite stressful and emotional but best of all I now get five days in a row to work – the dream! And of course that means I’ve found the time to read plenty of articles online that I’m excited to share with you. Here’s my monthly round-up of interesting, useful or just plain fun articles from around the internet that I think writers of middle grade and YA genre fiction might get a kick out of.

Keeping Your Notebook

‘The single most important thing to remember is that notebooks are personal, private, intimate, and real.  You are never going to share it with anyone. That gives you the freedom to write clearly about your world.’

Six Principles for Becoming a Better Worldbuilder

‘Some audiences will care about your world simply because it’s part of their special interest. Anything with airships has my automatic attention because I’m complete trash for zeppelins and all their kin. However, that type of interest/subject matchup isn’t common. No matter how well detailed a setting is, most audiences won’t care about it by default. This is why spec fic has a bad reputation for dull worldbuilding info dumps. Authors want to tell their audience all about the world, but they haven’t given the audience a reason to care.’

Should I have my editor sign an NDA?

‘There are several reasons why an NDA is not the answer to worries about copyright infringement, and they fall into a few categories: that NDAs are unnecessary; that NDAs are not standard in publishing and hinder a writer’s ability to get their manuscript read, never mind published; and that the kind of infringement that is feared or alleged is not actually infringing under the law.’

Why Adding Monsters and Fairies to a Memoir Can Make It Even More Real

‘I started thinking about the idea of “speculative memoir” because I was a fantasy and science fiction writer whose work was becoming more and more autobiographical. Of course, all writing draws from experience, but there’s a particularly weird energy to writing memoir, in a deliberate way, in a fantastic or uncanny mode. It seems to announce a certain relationship to memory, and to experience.’

Fairy Tale Sisters Who Don’t Hate Each Other

‘Twelve Dancing Princesses has sisters in abundance: not just a pair, but twelve of them. My friend Diana Peterfreund described it as “every fairy-tale-loving writer’s favorite fairy tale” (note: guilty as charged), so it’s no surprise that this has been retold numerous times in many different ways.’

How Library Distribution Works for Indie Authors

‘If you want to get your books into libraries, the first thing you need to know is that libraries don’t buy directly from publishers or authors, but from distributors. So your first step is to get your book into a library vendor catalog, by uploading your titles to the right book distributor.’

Want a Stronger Manuscript? Read It Aloud

‘Mental reading results in a certain amount of brain processing as we’re seeing, analyzing, and comprehending the words on the page. But reading out loud adds an auditory element as our brain not only sees the words but hears them, too. More processing is involved. More processing requires more brain power and leads to better editing, comprehension, and pretty much everything else the brain is doing at the time.’

3 Powerful Ways Pros Create Character Conflict

‘Is your main character haunted by something from the past? Did they make a mistake long ago that they still regret? Did something terrible happen to them that deeply affected who they are? If not, can you make something up? Think about their personality and what could have shaped it. Dig deep into your character’s closet. See if there’s a skeleton you can pull out and dust off.’

Writing Multiple Timelines Set in One Place

‘Now for my favorite part: picking where your timelines converge. You know the fun of it is as a reader, when all of a sudden you come across a person or place in a later timeline that relates in a surprising way to a prior one. As a writer, these links can be just as fun to employ. Pick events and micro-settings that you can mine for emotional resonance, character growth, and plot twists between timelines.’

The Author’s Guide to Redeeming Villains

Need is a primary motivator for all people. A void in the human needs department will push the character to take action to alleviate it; this typically means facing past pain and becoming vulnerable again. But a villain won’t want to go there. Instead, she denies or avoids her past, distracting herself by pursuing other goals and interests.

Thanks so much for reading, lovely writer! Want empowering, feel-good writing chat and fairy dust in your inbox? Plus receive a PDF of my recommended writing craft books for children’s and YA writers (including go-to genre guides and Children’s Lit MA reading list) AND £20 Wolf Credit to spend with me! Sign up today!

Siobhan O'Brien Holmes

Siobhan O'Brien Holmes is a developmental editor working with middle grade and YA authors. She specialises in speculative and genre fiction, particularly horror, fantasy, mystery, sci-fi and anything with a dash of magic or macabre. She is a member of the SfEP, EFA, ACES, British Fantasy Society, Horror Writers Association and SCBWI. She has an MA in Novel Writing and an MA in Children's Literature.

All stories by: Siobhan O'Brien Holmes