Peg366's Blog

Archive for July 2009


This is one of my ateliers. It sparks my imagination and causes my words to vlow.

This is one of my ateliers. It sparks my imagination and causes my words to flow.


I subscribe to several newsletters each month and love this portion of Jennifer’s newsletter. Read more at I must confess I had to visit a dictionary to learn what some of the words meant. Okay, more than some but it was fun.

Here are some more of those words that prove what a wonderful language English is …

bedizen, foofaraw, quiddity, pablum, badinage, galumph, faineant, lugubrious, atelier, plangent

1. excessive or flashy ornamentation; also, a fuss over a trivial matter

2. mournful; gloomy; dismal

3. to dress or adorn in gaudy manner

4. to move in a clumsy manner or with a heavy tread

5. a workshop; a studio

6. beating with a loud or deep sound

7. doing nothing; idle; also, a do-nothing

8. something (as writing or speech) that is trite, insipid or simplistic

9. light, playful talk

10. the essence or nature of a thing


In the Spotlight | More Topics |
  from Ginny Wiehardt
“The key to good description begins with clear seeing and ends with clear writing, the kind of writing that employs fresh images and simple vocabulary. . . . Practice the art, always reminding yourself that your job is to say what you see, and then to get on with your story.” –Stephen King, On Writing

Basic Plot

What You Need to Know About Plot

By Ginny Wiehardt,

If, like many people, you labor under the idea that for “real” writers, plot comes effortlessly, dismiss that illusion now. While some writers were born with a sense of how to tell a story effectively, more of them do study the elements of plot and pay serious attention to how other writers successfully construct a narrative.

Playwrights have this stuff drilled into them, but fiction writers often get away without basic instruction in what makes something dramatic. It’s not magic. The elements of a good story can be studied and learned.

In fact, you’ve probably already studied them in your high school literature classes. It doesn’t hurt to review them now, from the perspective of a writer and not a student. They may seem simple, but without them, your other skills as a writer — your ability to imagine believable characters, your talent with dialogue, your exquisite use of language — will come to naught.

Start, of course, with a protagonist, your main character. The protagonist must encounter a conflict — with another character, society, nature, himself, or some combination of these things — and undergo some kind of change as a result.

“Conflict” is also known as the “major dramatic question.” Gotham Writers’ Workshop puts it this way in their guide Writing Fiction: The major dramatic question “is generally a straightforward yes/no question, one that can be answered by the end of the story.” What will happen to King Lear when he divides up his empire and estranges himself from his one faithful daughter? Will Elizabeth Bennet of Jane Austen‘s Pride and Prejudice get to marry for love, and will she or one of her sisters marry well enough to save the family from financial humiliation?

What sorts of changes do these conflicts bring about? Elizabeth Bennet learns the dangers of letting prejudice interfere with judgment. King Lear acquires humility and learns to recognize superficiality and sincerity. Both are wiser at the end of the story than they were at the beginning, even if this wisdom, in Lear’s case, comes at a dear cost.

Elements of Plot

A story will hit various landmarks on its way from the story’s beginning to the fulfillment of the dramatic question. The introduction presents the characters, the setting, and the central conflict. Involve your protagonist in that conflict as early as possible. Today’s readers will generally not wade through pages of exposition to get to the point. Don’t make them wonder why they’re reading your story or novel. Hook them in the first page or pages.

From there, the character will face various impediments to the achievement of his or her goal. Known as rising action or development, this is part of the story’s satisfaction. Readers like to see struggle, like to feel as though the payoff at the end is deserved.

Again, Pride and Prejudice provides an excellent example. If Elizabeth Bennet and Darcy liked each other immediately, and their friends and family immediately approved, their marriage would be much less satisfying, and nothing much would have been learned along the way, except that it’s great to fall in love.

Note how other writers build dramatic tension during this part of their narrative. How do they keep us interested in the outcome of the story? How many impediments are necessary to make the reader feel satisfied at the end? None of these decisions are necessarily easy. Part of your growth as a writer entails developing a feel for a successful story arc.

The rising action leads to the climax, the turning point in the story, which in turn leads to the resolution. The central dramatic question is solved one way or another. Peter Selgin provides a good example in his book By Cunning & Craft:

Climax is the resolution of conflict, the point of no return beyond which the protagonist’s fate — good or bad — is secured. Romeo’s suicide is the climax…not because it’s the most dramatic moment, but because it seals his fate and determines the resolution by preventing him and Juliet from ever living happily ever after.

In the denouement, the author ties up all the lose ends. Elizabeth and Jane Bennet get to live close to each other. Lydia stays far away in the North, where she can’t bother them much, and Kitty’s better qualities are drawn out by frequent visits to her sisters. Everyone we like lives happily ever after, and in a matter-of-fact three pages or so, we get all the necessary details. Likewise, the denouement for Lear takes only part of one scene: all the players of the main plot die, but under Edgar, England is reunited.

Two Disclaimers

First, much successful fiction does not follow these rules exactly. But even works like Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, which seem focused more on language than action, introduce dramatic questions to keep us reading. (Will her party come off? What’s up with her and Peter Walsh?) A lot of fiction that doesn’t necessarily seem plot-driven turns out, on closer scrutiny, to depend on tried and true strategies we can trace back (in Western literature, at least) to Aristotle’s Poetics.

Second, these basic elements may not occur in the order listed above. Try to identify them in your reading. Question why the writer decided to tell the story the way he or she did. Note the dramatic decisions. And, of course, think about all of this as you craft your own stories. At the end of the day, something has to happen. It seems elementary, but it can be quite complicated. By all means, experiment, but spend some time on the basics, too.

As a writer, I had a wonderful night last night. It was the kind of night that makes me smile and smile some more. Between 8 and 9 PM, I joined in the chatter on #kidlitchat on Twitter. I learned some things that helped me know where to go to get certain info on agents and editors.

Then at 10 PM, I chatted with Verla Kay, Linda Joy Singleton and several other authors.  We talked about graphic novels and what it takes to get a contract on one.

As a rather new author I was afraid that I would not fit in but instead found that I held my own in both chats while I gathered info on things that I knew little about. I would encourage anyone to join in a chat related to their chosen genre.

.RT @diareeves: Saw this quote today: “Most people miss when opportunity knocks because it comes dressed in overalls and looks like work.”


I love this quote and it fits so well with an article I am in the process of writing that I decided to include it. 

I’ve been watching others in my chosen field of writing and the associated  arts trying to figure out what makes some so successful while others who possess the same talents or even more talent never get the level of success they aspire to.

I’ve ponder for some time as to what is it that makes such a big difference between the two types. After a bit of thinking, I’ve decided that it has something to do with the motivation or lack of motivation. Being motivated is what seems to make the difference. 

A case in point is my two friends that are illustrators. Both are equally talented artistically but one is the go-getter type who does everything she can to develop her skills while the other moans and groans about the world not giving her her just rewards. The first illustrator has nothing but positives to say about others. She reaches out and help newbies in the field. She is willing to do a project based on its value, a value other than just money or the prestige.

 The second complains that her skills are too good to be wasted on a small town project. While both talk the talk, the first is the one that will prove the most successful as she is willing to put in the work.

I also know another person who writes who has had a super idea that has never come to fruition and its failure to thrive is definitely linked to her lack of motivation. While she talks the talk about her project, she gets people excited and they want to be a part of the project. They think her idea is phenomenal. They check out the site. It looks like the Centre would be something that they would want to be involved with. She could easily market the idea but the lack of motivation to follow through leaves other writers with no desire to stay as a part of the project. 

For example, no new material has been added to the site in over a year and a half, though two or three ideas for articles she could write have been suggested. For most people, the reason that they come back to a site is that the site is constantly being added to. There is something new and interesting to read, look at. There are recommendation for other sites to visit. The writing is fresh with new interviews or quotes. The reader finds they have something in common with the writer.

There has to be something that convinces the reader to become an active member who is willing to invested their time and energy in the site.

While it might seem like some writers/artists are an overnight success, if one looks closer they might discover just how much work that has been done to get them where they are. The reader learns how motivated the writers/artists are in reality.

This is a great article from Writers Digest.
Quick Tips for Building a Bio
July 27, 2009
by  Christina Katz
Here’s how to tell people what you know and why they should hire you.
Of all the materials you’ll utilize in becoming known, your short bio is the one you’ll use and update the most. By highlighting your credibility in your field and showcasing you as the experienced professional that you are, it succinctly tells people what you know and why they should listen to you.

• Start with what you’ve got and let that be enough. Regardless of depth of experience, a brief summary of past writing-for-publication credits is a good first bio. Nobody ever remembers that their favorite authors were once completely unknown, but of course they were. Bios improve over time.

• Try not to digress. Describe what you’ve done, not what you’re going to do. Omit any new efforts that have not yet garnered much response (blogs and zines, for example)—until, of course, they do. Don’t describe your desire to write, share irrelevant experience or give a short history of your life.

• Update constantly. Include credits that establish you in your field as well as any recognition that has come from external sources. Only your most recent credits are going to make the best first impression you can make.

Harold Underdown

Harold Underdown is working as a consulting editor at present.

Be sure to check out his website for updates on Whose’s Moving Where in the Industry.

A Writing Tip from Highlight/Calkins Creek Editor, Carolyn Yoder‏
From: Highlights Foundation (
Sent: Fri 7/24/09 7:03 PM

What makes a great biography? Do readers need to know every detail, every event, every opinion? Masters at the art of biography know what to leave in and what to leave out—how to build character, discovering along the way just what makes the covered subject worthy of attention. A great biography uncovers a person’s soul—or in simple terms, reveals what makes him or her tick.

Biographers have a balancing act to perform—creating harmony between research and writing. A great biography is a good story full of rich, accurate, and fair detail. In Real People, Great Stories: The Art of Writing Biography, writers will study this balancing act closely—reviewing their own “portraits” as a group and individually (one on one).

From hardbacks to news rags, why are we so fascinated with what other people are doing—eating, dating, marrying, and even, perhaps, thinking. And why do so many people write about other people—alive AND dead? Biographers tend to be curious (uncovering new details), heroic and loving (setting the story straight or simply offering exposure), and at times devious (setting the story straight or simply offering exposure). Biographers also tend to love a good hunt (digging really, really deep through piles of all kinds of stuff) and a good story (those rich anecdotes). In my workshop, Real People, Great Stories: The Art of Writing Biography, running from October 29 to November 1, 2009, writers will look closely at the art of biography—reviewing their own “portraits” as a group and individually—as well as come to realize why this art form has lasted for so many years.

Carolyn P. Yoder is the editor of Calkins Creek Books, the U.S. history imprint of Boyds Mills Press, and the senior editor of history and world cultures at Highlights magazine. She is the author of John Adams: The Writer; Becoming George Washington; George Washington: The Writer; and three books in Heinemann Library’s We Are America series. Carolyn has been an editor and writer for the New Jersey Historical Society and the executive director of the New Hampshire Antiquarian Society. From 1983-1996, she served as editor, editor in chief, and assistant publisher of Cobblestone Publishing, Inc.

For more information on Carolyn’s upcoming Highlights Foundation workshop, Real People, Great Stories: The Art of Writing Biography, visit Please feel free to share this e-mail with others who might find it of interest.

Highlights Foundation, Inc.
814 Court Street
Honesdale, PA 18431
Phone: (570) 251-4500


I am an aspiring picturebook writer with some magazine credits just no picture book contract yet. I know it is coming and I am more than willing to work for it.

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July 2009

July 2009
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My Favorites:

I love the children's movies Wizard of Oz and the Neverending Story. Both movies make me feel the lesson that hope is alive and well. After seeing UP this past week, it just might have a chance at being added to this list.

I love the cool colors of blues and purples.Those colors are peaceful for me.

I love The Velveteen Rabbit. Even as an adult, I still feel the urge to cry when he becomes real. I know, silly, but a good book can make me laugh and cry as it takes me on a magical journey.

Authors and Illustrators:

Authors, Author/Illustrator, Illustrators that I know and/or Like.


C= Children

MG= Mid Grade

T= Teen

YA= Young Adult

A= Adult


Bonnie Adamson *

Kathi Appelt *

Tedd Arnold


Natalie Babbit

Molly Bang

Bonnie Becker

Jan and Stan Berenstain

Judy Blume

Tracey M. Cox

Linda Crotta Brennan *

Jan Brett

Janie Bynum *

Eric Carle

Pam Calvert

Nancy Carlson

Beverly Cleary

Kevin Scott Collier

Sharon Creech

Doreen Cronnin

Tomie dePaulo

Kate DiCamillo

Kathleen Duey *

Dotti Enderle

Jan Fields *

Denise Fleming

Mem Fox

Kelley Milner Hall

Amy Heist

Kevin Henkes

Ellen Jackson *

Jeff Kinney

Jackie French Koller

Ursula K. LeGuin

Leo Lionni

Lois Lowry

Mercer Mayer

Robert Munsch

Laura Numeroff

Linda Sue Parks

Dav Pilkey

Patricia Polacco

Peggy Rathmann

Bethany Roberts

David Shannon

Aaron Shepard

Donna J. Shepherd *

Cynthia Leitich Smith

Jerry Spinelli

Diane Stanley

Chris Van Allsburg

Rick Walton *

Lisa Wheeler

Mo Willems

Karma Wilson *

Audrey Woods

Jane Yolen *

Favorite Websites:

Favorite Blogs:

• ShelfTalker: A Children’s Bookseller’s Blog
• Alice’s CWIM Blog
• A Fuse #8 Production
• Cynsations
• Nathan Bransford – Literary Agent
• Editorial Anonymous
• Miss Snark’s First Victim
• Writing for children and teens

Favorite Quotes.

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