When Reka Simonsen, Senior Editor at Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, said the title of this post at the recent SCBWI Writers’ Day, Robin and I scribbled down her words immediately. It’s my new favorite quote for children’s writers. For years, Robin, Jay and I have discussed this topic at length. Kids are often way more sophisticated than grow-ups believe them to be. So, when I pick up a book that “dumbs down” the kid-speak or kid-think, it’s like nails on a chalkboard to me. Thanks for nailing down our thoughts, Reka!
Other favorite quotes on writing for children that I toss out regularly:
“Show, don’t tell.”
“The story’s DNA is in the first sentence.”
“Write what you want to know, rather than only what you know.”
“Chase your MC up a tree, then throw rocks at him.”
“Kill your babies.”
“Boil your story down to one brief 'elevator pitch' sentence.”
“Sentimentality is a failure of feeling.”
“Character trumps plot.” - Jack Gantos
“Teens crave honesty.” - Laurie Halse Anderson
“Lift the carpet on your character to reveal the icky but true issues.” - Libba Bray
“I don’t like hostile narrators; however, there’s a difference between being harsh to the world and being harsh to the reader.” - Julie Strauss-Gabel
“Careful what you wish for.” - Robert Sabuda
“The road to publication is like a churro, long and bumpy but sweet!” - The Disco Mermaids
“Attack your next book with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind!” - Dr. Stephen Holtzman
If you are an author of any of the first 7 quotes, please accept my apologies for failing to write down whose mouths they came out of! And, if you’d like, please identify yourselves here in the comments section.
Any other great writing quotes to add to my list? Thanks!
- Eve (favorite quote of all time: “If it’s not fun, why do it?” - Ben and Jerry)