Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Is This The Writer's Craft?

You know how yesterday I said I'd like to talk about the writer's craft if I ever have to speak before a group of writers again? Well, thanks to someone at the child_lit listserv I just found Space Dweebs, children's writer Kristine Franklin's blog. After taking a look at what she has to say, I may think twice about giving any how-to advice in front of an audience.

I find this blog very difficult to navigate, but if you can work your way back to the Jan. 30th post, she begins at that point to discuss Betsy Byars' ten commandments for writing middle grade fiction. These are commandments Franklin heard Byars discuss at a conference. In front of an audience.

Now, I know that Kristine Franklin has written more books than I have, and she just finished a first draft in two weeks. (I just started one this afternoon.) And I know that Betsy Byars is a tres famous children's writer. But though I certainly agree with many of the commandments--making sure the child main character solves the problem in the story, for instance--they are phrased in such a formulaic way as to make writing an absolute chore. On top of that, the phrasing also suggests a lack of respect for readers. She's always going on about kids not having patience for this or that, kids are used to TV so they have to have action, kids won't this, kids won't that.

I was left feeling that I want to go out and break every one of those rules.

Visitors to Space Dweebs can read about Franklin's experience writing her new book. She says she uses her ten commandments with the first draft. Now she's getting started on the revision process.

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