Sara posted some pre-chat tips to put prospective participants in the right mood and then answered questions put to her by the Twitter team and by tweeters participating in the chat. Here are some the gems of advice she shared on 3rd February that are invaluable for anyone trying to write for children and teens.
Sara: Difficult to pick the most important tip. But don't watch children. Be the child. Try to remember what it was like to be a child.
Q: What advice do you have for that 'muddle in the middle'?
Sara: Keep playing with 'what if'. Brainstorm wild & wacky ideas. Surprise readers.
Q: Is there a standard word count for chapters for 9+ - my WIP chapters are around 3k but possibly too big?
Sara: MAGIC TRIX (for 7+) was 15,000 words. 3K per chapter could be OK. I prefer shorter ones, so young readers feel a sense of accomplishment.
Q: What would you say are the main differences between writing for 7+ and 9+? Increase in scare factor, darker characters etc?
Sara: Tough question. The complexity of character, plot & setting. The older the children, the more complex the book.
Sara, as a freelance editor of series fiction, has worked on twelve different series and edited nearly 100 books. She had lots of thoughts to help aspiring and published writers. Her final gems of wisdom were:
* Believe in your work and never stop learning and improving and writing and rewriting.
* Love your characters – and your readers will, too. People are complex. Make sure your characters are perfectly imperfect.
The Swanwick Twitter team would like to thank Sara Grant for spending an hour with us sharing her wisdom and views. For a few more thoughts on what it takes to be a published writer, check out her recent blog post at http://bookboundretreat.wordpress.com/writing-advice/
Our next #Askswanwick chat is 11th March, when journalist, crime writer and Swanwick course leader Simon Hall (The TV Detective) will be our guest at 8pm (GMT). We have #askswanwick chat guidelines on the Swanwick website: www.swanwickwritersschool.org.uk/twitter-chat.html. Look forward to hearing your questions at our next chat!
The Swanwick Twitter Team - Benjamin, Karin, Andrew, Mike and Ruth