Children's writing

SCBWI Blog Prompt

The Facebook group, Fans of SCBWI, has started offering blog prompts to assist and encourage kidlit writers who blog. Naturally, I consider this both a game and a challenge.

Here’s the first prompt:

Pick a successful writer/illustrator, whether you like their work or not, and write a blog post about what other writers or illustrators can learn from them.

I got hung up on picking an author, so I reached above my head and grabbed a book: Sports Illustrated for Kids: Year in Sports 2008. Huh. This is how I got sidetracked onto what writers can learn from a book rather than an author. Whatever.

If my hand had landed one book to the right, I would have had to write about Elizabeth Castro’s HTML and CSS Visual Quickstart Guide. One book to the left, and this post would stem from Essentials of English.

I contemplated starting over on a different bookshelf. But I didn’t. A game’s a game; a challenge is a challenge.

So here goes.

Ten things fiction writers can learn from Sports Illustrated for Kids: Year In Sports 2008.

1. Having many characters assures all readers will relate to someone.

2. No giant walls of intimidating text. Intimidating stats, however, are gems. Keep the story moving with short paragraphs, blurbs, and charts, whenever possible.

3. Cheerleading is not a sport, but snowmobiling is.

4. Throw in pop quizzes to make sure readers are paying attention. Make them sound cool by titling them “Trivia Challenge.”

5. Weave in backstory to put the current state of affairs in perspective.

6. It’s all about competition.

7. Challenge and entertain readers with character names like Zydrunas Ilgauskas or Albert Pujols.

8. Include lots of pictures of famous athletes.

9. The best books include puzzles. (Year in Sports 2009 vs. Year in Sports 2008–2009 has puzzles.)

10. They can’t all be winners.

Now here’s our next challenge: In the comments, let’s post things needleworkers can learn from Sports Illustrated for Kids: Year in Sports 2008.

Okay. Go!

Categories: Children's writing

4 replies »

  1. Julie, this was such a fun post! I loved the way you chose which book to comment on, and was struck by how the majority of your things writers could learn from Sports Illustrated for Kids could be similarly applied to a bestseller like Harry Potter. LOL

    Thanks for taking up the challenge with such verve!

  2. I’m not following instructions, but I do need to ask/comment on #3. Cheerleading isn’t considered a sport, but colleges do offer full and partial (sports?) scholarships for this activity. What category does it fit into, do you know?

  3. Personally, I call cheerleading a sport, but there is no coverage in the Year in Sports book. There is coverage, however, of snowmobiling. I think it’s part of the Winter XGames.

    I would guess that schools offering scholarships for cheerleading consider it a sport, but as I said, that’s a guess.