Children's LiteratureThis is a general introduction to the craft of writing for kids. The basic premise is that the interested child is an avid reader and likes to write. What follows is a description of the various categories of fiction writing and things to consider about each genre. Dialogue, plot, theme, point of view and character development are all discussed. There are specific diagrams and text to help develop an idea from beginning and middle to the end, and to insert various scenes and multiple plot points. A story about a boy trying to get his father's attention is used to understand plot development and again, to understand how a novel differs from a short story. It is exciting to see the introduction of writing for television and movies to children, and why not? This is a genre with specific approaches and considerations that differ significantly from writing a novel. Each of the seven chapters includes writing exercises. The final chapter includes instructions for manuscript formatting, a list of online markets for kids who write and a list of additional books about the subject of writing. 2001, The Millbrook Press, $23.90. Ages 8 to 12. Reviewer: Kristin Harris
VOYAIntended to encourage writing outside of the classroom, this genre-oriented guide might have accomplished more by attempting less. The thin volume begins with an overview of fiction writing and then quickly moves on to the short story. Mystery follows with six types explained; speculative fiction includes science fiction and fantasy, with five types of science fiction and four types of fantasy defined; screenwriting covers television and film; humor is illustrated by six types; and marketing rounds out the discussion. Although the authors specify the "what" in each overall genre-approximately six scenes for a short story, or one page of text written for each minute of screenplaytheir discussion of the "how" seems lacking. Writing exercises, such as "Write a paragraph about each member of your family" or "Write a suspenseful scene in which your amateur sleuth is in danger," have little or no discussion of process or evaluation. Terms such as dramatic moment and advice such as "Give the villain enough good qualities to keep him or her human... but don't make the villain more interesting or sympathetic than your main character," seem too sophisticated for an audience of students in grades five through eight without extensive, explained examples. Marion Bauer's What's Your Story? A Young Person's Guide to Writing Fiction (Clarion, 1992/VOYA June 1992) is a much stronger source for beginning writers and can be supplemented with articles about specific genres in well-respected writing magazines. Index. Illus. Further Reading. VOYA CODES: 2Q 2P J S (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Junior High, definedas grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2001, Millbrook, 80p, $23.90. Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Lucy Schall SOURCE: VOYA, August 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 3)
School Library JournalGr 5-7-This title on genre writing begins with a discussion of fiction writing in general. Types of characters, point of view, dialogue, plot, scene, and theme are all briefly covered. This information is followed by chapters on writing short stories, mysteries, science fiction and fantasy, humor, and movie scripts. Finally, there are instructions for publishing on and off-line. The authors offer a good model for beginning writers, but they imply that it is the only model. Unfortunately, their instructions may be too general and vague for some youngsters and it's unlikely this audience knows the work of William Gibson or John Stith mentioned as examples in the text. (They are also unlikely to write "cozy" mysteries.) In addition, the writing is a bit dry and transitions are sometimes missing; paragraphs jump to different, albeit related, subjects without warning. Each chapter ends with suggested writing exercises and, often, tips on "How to Begin." Black-and-white somewhat juvenile cartoons and an occasional diagram illustrate the text. Despite its flaws, this volume will fill a gap in large collections needing material on writing genre fiction and movie scripts. Smaller libraries would probably do well to get a few copies of Ralph Fletcher's writers' guides.-Timothy Capehart, Leominster Public Library, MA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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