Ten: For Young Writers Part 2 — Books

Last month, I highlighted some great online resources for young writers, and promised two more posts: books for young writers, and stories about young writers. This week’s Ten offers up books for, and do I ever have some neat titles to share!

Spilling Ink: A Young Writer’s Handbook written by Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter and illustrated by Matt Phelan
Purposely written for readers who love to write, and for those who don’t (or have never really thought about it), Mazer and Potter’s book invites anyone to jump in and try writing for themselves — with a bit of help to smooth the way. The authors take turns addressing each topic, so the book can easily be read all at once, or in small bits, and both write with humour and casual authenticity that gives the book as a whole a welcoming feel.

Whatcha Mean, What’s a Zine? The Art of Making Zines and Mini-Comics by Mark Todd and Esther Pearl Watson
Todd and Watson’s book, with a variety of presentation that echoes the diversity of its subject, is ready and waiting to tell readers pretty much anything they could possibly want to know about making and distributing zines. Ideas for content? Yup. Quotes and stories from those who’ve made zines before? Absolutely, whether the zine had a 2-issue run or developed into a thriving commercial magazine. Tips on inking, photocopying, folding and binding your zine? Pages and pages, all with illustrations. There’s even a list of comic book stores open to selling zines on commission.

Just Write: Here’s How! by Walter Dean Myers
Part memoir of his own experiences as a writer, part guide for young writers, Myers’s book speaks to the power of writing, and of stories in general, to influence our understanding of, and engagement with the world.

Draw & Write Your Own Picture Book by Emily Hearn and Mark Thurman
Kids learn how to tell their story in pictures, first. The authors have them storyboard a 24-page picture book, teach them how and why to vary perspective, offer tips for editing their work, and finally have them put together a mock up copy of their book. By the time they get to putting words together, the story is told, and writers can focus their attention on “how your characters feel as the plot evolves — what they smell, what they hear, how foods taste, how scared, mixed-up, happy, angry, or sad they are.” It’s an unexpected approach, but a non-threatening one (for both writers and drawers), and one that helps to demonstrate how pictures and words interact in a picture book.

So You Want to be a Writer? How to Write, Get Published, and Maybe Even Make it Big! by Vicki Hambleton and Cathleen Greenwod
An entertaining read full of useful advice for every stage in the writing process, from making space in your life for writing to working with publishers to get your work in print. Throughout the book, the authors sprinkle author interviews, profiles of young authors who have been published and/or found jobs that allow them to write for a living, and inspiring samples of young authors’ work.

Writing for Comics and Graphic Novels (Revised Edition) by Peter David
David’s colourful book, full of sidebars and sample comic pages, takes readers into the midst of the challenge of creating stories for comics. While there are plenty of tips that can be applied to any type of writing — on how to create a complex character, how to develop a story’s central theme, how to structure a story, etc. — the book does a great job of keeping its focus on comic books. As a result, even readers who aren’t interested in writing for comic books will find plenty of fascinating behind-the-scenes information about how comic book stories come to be.

A Teen’s Guide to Getting Published: Publishing for Profit, Recognition, and Academic Success (2nd ed.) by Jessica Dunn and Danielle Dunn
Jessica and Danielle offer some writing advice, but focus the majority of their book on discussing the publishing process. Coverage is quite comprehensive, describing what to expect when seeking publication, how to select the best venue for your work, and how the process differs for different types of writing (e.g. short stories and articles vs. novels). Particularly exciting is the fact that the book was originally published when the authors were teens themselves (this second edition was updated and rereleased ten years after the original), which means that they understand and address issues unique to teens trying to get published.

Writing Magic: Creating Stories that Fly by Gail Carson Levine
Levine’s conversational tone, plethora of solid advice, and intriguing exercises add up to an engaging (and encouraging!) read that middle and high school writers are sure to enjoy. Familiarity with Levine’s other stories makes it even more fun, since her tips and examples provide glimpses into where those stories came from, and how she made them work.

Kids Write! Fantasy & Sci Fi, Mystery, Autobiography, Adventure & More! written by Rebecca Olien and illustrated by Michael Kline
A great tool for getting kids writing at home or at school. Kids Write! is full of creative, active exercises to help kids think through stories, and get those stories down on paper. Readers are guided through small, manageable steps, so that the exercises feel as much like games and craft projects as writing practice.

The Wand in the Word: Conversations with Writers of Fantasy by Leonard S. Marcus
Readers are sure to recognise at least a few of the authors Marcus interviews — his list is full of favourites like Madeleine L’Engle, Philip Pullman and Tamora Pierce. The interviews are short, but offer insight into the authors’ histories, writing processes, and advice for young writers.


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