Show, Don’t Tell

What does it mean to show rather than tell? Honestly, we all know showing is more powerful than telling, but sometimes it’s difficult to sort out which is which in your own writing. In this week’s Facebook live session, we’ll get practical about how to find pesky telling in your writing, and then how to transform those moments into well-crafted scenes that can spring to life in a reader’s mind. Love before-and-after makeover shows? If so, this revision session is for you.

Parents and educators, help young writers capture all of their ideas! Download the Show, Don’t Tell Cheat Sheet by entering your email below. 

 

If you’re 13 or younger, you’ll need a guardian to use their email and fill out this form for you. This extra step helps keep you safe online.

January 2018 Ink Splat: Featuring Lauren Wolk

Writing Challenge

Imagine a setting where you’d like to spend time. Consider the sights, smells, sounds, taste and feel of the place. Write a description of the setting, and in your very last sentence, introduce a character who fits perfectly into the space you’ve created.

 

Submit your responses by emailing submit@younginklings.org and you might be published on our website!


An Interview with author Lauren Wolk

Did you write when you were young? Do you remember the moment when you realized you wanted to be an author?

I wrote as soon as I knew how, but writers write long before they know how to write. How’s that for an answer? It’s important for young people—for all people—to understand that the pen or the paintbrush or the scalpel or the computer or any tool is only that: a tool. A pen—or even an alphabet, for that matter—doesn’t make someone a writer. It simply makes it easier for a writer to express herself. It is the tool she finds most effective: the best method to convey her ideas. The moment I first looked at the ordinary and saw the extraordinary, I knew I had something worth saying. The moment I chose ink and paper as my best tools, I revealed the writer I’d been since the moment I was born, if not before. All kids, all people, have important things to share. They need to be given all the tools possible so they can choose the ones that work best for them.

 

Reading about Osh, Crow, Miss Maggie, and the other characters in Beyond the Bright Sea felt like meeting real people in real life. Do you have a process for developing characters that creates that special spark of believability?

I always start with setting. I choose a place where I want to spend time, and I spend time there (while I’m cooking, driving, gardening, in the shower, sleeping, making art), so I feel at home, before I begin to write. The characters come to join me there, one by one, and I spend time with them, too. At least with the protagonist. I watch and listen until I know those characters well enough to follow them into the story. If they say or do something that doesn’t ring true, I can hear it. See it. Feel it. And so I change it. Mostly, though, they are strong enough and stubborn enough to stay in character with very little guidance.

 

Was the process of writing Beyond the Bright Sea smooth sailing? Did you ever hit rough water along the way, and if so, how did you work through the challenges you faced

For me, conducting research means walks a fine line. I rarely start research before I start to write. I look for answers to my own questions as I move along. Doing things in that order means that the story directs the research instead of the other way around. In Beyond the Bright Sea, I discovered some historical facts that begged me to alter the story line, and I had to be careful that the truth didn’t lead the book astray. For instance, when I learned that Captain Kidd had spent time in the waters around the islands where I had set the book, I saw ways to put him into the story. But I had to be very careful to include only what worked and nothing that didn’t. My characters helped me make decisions about how much I should be influenced by my research. They drew my attention back to them and their own personal stories over and over again.

 

You clearly take care with the words you choose. Do your just-right words tend to show up spontaneously when you draft, or do you have a method for crafting your words during revision?

I’m a poet. I love figurative language and try very hard to put the right words in the right order. I love the rhythms of the language. I strive for language that is fresh, evocative, memorable. And I get into a zone of concentration and focus when I write, so the words tend to come from a pretty deep well. And I revise as I write, so I make a lot of changes as I go, listening to the language (both in my head and out loud), stopping to spend time on places that feel bland or lazy before I get too far ahead of myself. When the book is done, I go back and revise again. And then, with my editor, again. I want every word to be, as you put it, “just-right.”

 

What is your favorite thing about writing?

All of it.

 

If you could meet a fictional character, who would you want to meet? How would you spend your time with this character?

Well, that’s not a fair question. Just one character? Boy, oh boy. I suppose if I had to choose I’d choose Karana from Scott O’Dell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins. I loved that book so much. I’d like to sit quietly with her and talk about the two flip-sides of her life on the island: independence and loneliness. And how both of them made her stronger.

 

If you could tell your younger writing self something, what would it be?

I don’t think I’d tell my younger writing-self anything much. The obvious: read as much as you can (which I was already doing); write as much as you can (which I was already doing). But I would tell that girl not to worry so much about whether people liked her for who she was. I’d tell her that the things that made her different from everyone else would be the very things she’d love most about herself as she got older. I’d tell her that the things that set her apart were some day going to give her Annabelle and Crow and the other characters in her books. I’d tell her to rest easy about all that.


Society of Young Inklings News

  • The Inklings Book Contest is here! Submit your work by March 15. We can’t wait to read it!
  • Starting February 12, we’re hosting Online Writer’s Circles! Join a small circle of dedicated writers who will encourage, provide specific feedback, and inspire you. Your group will be facilitated by a pro-writer and mentor through an online video chat.
  • So, you’ve finished your story or poem… Now what? Submit to our Editorial Letter Program. Receive professional feedback from a writer who is passionate about writing craft and who can offer you concrete strategies for taking your work to the next level.

 

 


A special thanks to Lauren Wolk!

 

Lauren Wolk is a poet, novelist, and visual artist. She was a writer at the St. Paul American Indian Center, a senior editor with a publisher in Toronto, an English teacher at Sturgis Charter School, and Assistant Director at Cape Cod Writers Center. She is now Associate Director at the Cultural Center of Cod. In 1999, Random House published her first adult novel, Those Who Favor Fire. Her second novel, Forgiving Billy, was twice nominated for the Pushcart Editor’s Book Award and won the Hackney Literary Award. She has since written two novels for young readers—Wolf Hollow (Dutton, 2016) and Beyond the Bright Sea (Dutton, 2017)—and is at work on a third. Wolk lives on Cape Cod.

You can learn more about Lauren at her website and you can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Similes and Metaphors

With words, the possibilities are endless. Join us for this week’s Facebook Live session, where we explore the art of crafting similes and metaphors. How can we choose captivating images to bring our ideas to life in the minds of readers? Whether you’re writing poetry or fiction, there will be something in this session for you!


Parents and educators, help young writers capture all of their game-inspired ideas! Download the brainstorming template by entering your email below.

If you’re 13 or younger, you’ll need a guardian to use their email and fill out this form for you. This extra step helps keep you safe online.

Winter 2018 Programming

 

This Winter, Society of Young Inklings has some new – and old! – ways for you to take part and sharpen your writing skills.

 

  • Online Writer’s Circles – Join a small circle of dedicated writers who will encourage, provide specific feedback, and inspire you. Your group will be facilitated by a pro-writer and mentor through an online video chat. Click here to sign up!

 

  • Inklings Book Contest – It’s our favorite time of year! Submit your story or poem to our FREE Inklings Book Contest and you could be published in our annual Inklings Book! Winners receive a two-session editorial mentorship with a professional mentor/writer, throughout which they will revise and polish their poem or story. The revised stories and poems are then published in the Inklings Book. Finalists receive a personalized editorial letter with tips and encouragement about their writing. We open for submission on January 8. RSVP or submit by February 15, and you will receive a personalized editorial letter, even if you’re not a finalist! Read more about the contest here.

 

  • Editorial Letter Mentorship – You’ve finished your story or poem… Now what?
    Receive professional feedback from a writer who is passionate about writing craft and who can offer you concrete strategies for taking your work to the next level. Submit your work today!

 

  • Coming Soon! Idea StormNever face the blank page empty-handed again! Brew up a storm of ideas with Society of Young Inklings in this game-packed online master class. Read more here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introducing Jena!

This is part of a series interviewing Society of Young Inklings’ mentors. This week we’re featuring Jena McNealy. Along with being a mentor, Jena is also the managing director of Society of Young Inklings.

 

Tell us two truths and a lie… but keep us guessing! We’ll save the reveal for the end.
  1. I was born in Italy
  2. I had a pet cow and pig as a child
  3. I have 36 first cousins
What are you writing right now?

A picture book featuring a witch.

 

Jena’s Writing Space

What’s one playful activity you use when you’re working on your writing?

I go outside and sit with my cats. Watching them frolic around always makes me laugh and I inevitably come up with ideas.

 

What is your favorite food?

Spaghetti and meatballs.

What was your favorite book as a child?

The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids by Debbie Dadie.

 

What was your first job?

I was a golf cart attendant – I got to drive around a golf course selling food and drinks.

So, which was the lie?

I was not born in Italy, but I am Italian. I do have 36 first cousins and we all live within 75 miles of one another. My cow’s name was Carmella and my pig’s name was Kiwi.

 

 

 


Are you interested in mentorship through Society of Young Inklings? Click below to learn more! We offer a free mini-course that explains our teaching methodology as well as a free introductory call with our Mentorship Coordinator.

 

Tell Me More About Mentorship!

Introducing Malar!

This is part of a series interviewing Society of Young Inklings’ mentors. This week we’re featuring Malar Ganapathiappan.

 

Tell us two truths and a lie… but keep us guessing! We’ll save the reveal for the end.
  1. I grow my own vegetables.
  2. I have played three musical instruments.
  3. I first got a smart phone a year ago due to the old network no longer being supported.
What are you writing right now?

I’m currently working on my blog writing practice – writing posts about my personal experience on the process of transforming and overcoming fear.

Tell us about a time you got stuck creatively and how you got unstuck.

I got stuck when it felt like something was missing in a story and I couldn’t figure out what should happen next. I got unstuck by talking to a friend about it. It was really helpful to look at the issue from another perspective.

What is your favorite color?

Green.

 

What is your favorite food?

I prefer cooking food as simply as possible without following a recipe and eliminating as many “complicated” and “unnecessary” steps/ingredients as possible. It’s exciting when it turns out really good.

What was your favorite book as a child?

My favorite series was The Hardy Boys.

 

What was your first job?

My first job was tutoring.

What do you like to do for fun?

I enjoy creating through many forms, including painting and making homemade cosmetics. I teach myself how to do things, like how to fix my bike. I also love exploring nature outdoors – bonus points when a trip is spontaneous and I unexpectedly find something special.

So, which was the lie?

Growing my own vegetables is a future plan but at the moment, I only have native plants/herbs and indoor plants in my garden.

 

 

 


Are you interested in mentorship through Society of Young Inklings? Click below to learn more! We offer a free mini-course that explains our teaching methodology as well as a free introductory call with our Mentorship Coordinator.

 

Tell Me More About Mentorship!

10 Ways to Support Your Favorite Non-Profit

by Naomi Kinsman

 

 

Which nonprofit has captured your heart this year? Chances are, you have a list! Supporting those meaningful causes may be more simple than you think.

What I’ve learned, as founder and Executive Director of Society of Young Inklings, is that people are an organization’s greatest asset. You may not realize it, but even tiny actions can yield enormous impact for organizations.

Wondering where to start? Here’s a list of ten possibilities.

1. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or Pinterest.

Your vote of confidence isn’t only social proof that the organization’s cause is meaningful. By following the organization, you influence the hidden strings behind the curtain and boost their reach. In other words, your simple click helps your favorite organization touch more lives.

Or, for extra oomph, like, share and comment on their posts, or post a picture and note on social media about your experience with the organization.

Want to follow SYI? Here are our links: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest

2. Forward one of their emails to a friend to help build a new connection.

In nearly every conversation about SYI, an aha! moment occurs. “You know who you should meet …” someone will say. Amazing! These connections unlock new possibilities. Next time you receive an email from your favorite organization, consider: Who in your circle needs to know about these resources or initiatives?

At SYI, we’re looking to make connections with potential Collaborating Artists, educators, librarians, and of course, potential Inklings and their parents.

 

3. Email them a story about your experience with their offerings.

Nonprofit staff and volunteers pour hours and passion into their work. You’d be surprised how meaningful and heartening your story will be. Your experience might even become a powerful testimony that helps them spread the word about not only what they do, but why they do it.

4. Give one of their products as a gift this holiday season.

Many nonprofits have swag, products, or gift cards for services. In many cases, these gifts are the ones that last long after the wrapping and bows are cleared away.

Looking for an SYI gift? Check out these possibilities: Editorial Letter Mentorship, SYI Published Books

 

5. Volunteer a few hours of your time and expertise.

Sure, there may be posted volunteer opportunities, but do you have a special skill or interest area that doesn’t quite fit?  Let that organization know! Send a quick email to explain your idea and area of expertise.

At SYI, we’re specifically looking for experts in online education, marketing, Facebook ads, and fundraising.

 

6. Review the organization or its products on Yelp, Amazon, indie sites, etc.

Well-placed reviews influence people at decision-making moments. Your review counts. If you write one, multiply your impact by cross posting it on a couple sites.

To help SYI in this way, consider reviewing one of our Your Name in Ink or Inklings Books.

 

7. If you’re making purchases on Amazon, use Amazon Smile.

At no cost to you, a portion of the revenue from your purchases goes directly to the nonprofit.

To support SYI with your Amazon purchases, go to smile.amazon.com and select Society of Young Inklings as your non-profit of choice. Bookmark and use your smile.amazon.com link to shop on Amazon!

 

8. Make an introduction between people you know at two similarly minded nonprofits or companies.

Partnerships are powerful. Help your favorite nonprofits connect with others who are doing similar work. A personal introduction removes barriers and makes collaboration more efficient and thus, cost-effective.

SYI is looking to partner with online educators, literacy organizations, and organizations who serve youth. We would also love to collaborate with companies whose products and apps focus on writers, books, and creativity.

9. Think of an influencer in your sphere who should know about the organization and make an introduction.

Do you know a blogger, podcaster, or other influencer whose topic relates to the organization’s cause? Your personal introduction could result in a guest post or other opportunity to multiply the organization’s efforts.

If you’d like to help Society of Young Inklings in this way, we’re specifically looking to make connections around the topic of books, literacy, writing, and creativity.

10. Support the organization financially.

Remember, even small donations help. It’s easy to get into the mindset that only large dollar amounts make a difference. However, keep in mind that $10,000 is only 400 gifts of $25, or 100 gifts of $100. Together, we can do much more than any of us can do on our own.

If you’d like to support Society of Young Inklings with a gift of any size, you can do so at this link.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gift of Stories

Bring the gift of stories into your holiday celebration. In today’s live session, we’ll be telling some holiday stories and also sharing some practical tips for how you can bring storytelling fun into this season. And don’t forget to check out this week’s cheat sheet, packed with ideas for bringing stories into the everyday.

 


Parents and educators, as you prepare for extra time with family the holidays, download our Stories on the Go packet and take some time to create together! Each activity gives you three simple steps for creating a story on-the-go, whether you’re around the dinner table, visiting with family in the living room, or on a long drive in the car.  Enter your email below to download your copy.

 

If you’re 13 or younger, you’ll need a guardian to use their email and fill out this form for you. This extra step helps keep you safe online.

Introducing Jenn!

This is part of a series interviewing Society of Young Inklings’ mentors. This week we’re featuring Jenn Castro.

 

Tell us a truth and a lie… but keep us guessing! We’ll save the reveal for the end.
  1. I once hiked 77 miles.
  2. I own a second home in Costa Rica
What are you writing right now?

A 10 year old girl conquers school bullies and shyness when she performs in a magic show.

What’s one playful activity you use when you’re working on your writing?

Think of a profession. Say, cooking. Use two columns, Make one a list of nouns (napkin, surf board, nail polish) and another of verbs (cut, chop, blend). Combine words in curious combinations.

Tell us about a time you got stuck creatively and how you got unstuck.

At a Young Inklings workshop, we imagined ourselves in a place meeting up with a character. Somehow I found my main character shopping with her mom. The setting gave an entry for my character to confront a difficult character.

Tell us about a mentor who made a difference in your creative life.

Seems so obvious, but a teacher, Ron at Stanford Continuing Education, advised me to write as specifically as possible about my character. Author Natalie Goldberg advises writers to place a picture frame on their desk and write as though looking through a small frame.

 

What is your favorite color?

Orange.

What is your favorite food?

Guacamole.

What was your favorite book as a child?

In the Forest by Marie Hall Ets.

 

What do you like to do for fun?

Bike ride, sing karaoke.

So, which was the lie?

I don’t own a home in Costa Rica.

 

 

 


Are you interested in mentorship through Society of Young Inklings? Click below to learn more! We offer a free mini-course that explains our teaching methodology as well as a free introductory call with our Mentorship Coordinator.

 

Tell Me More About Mentorship!

Introducing Naomi!

This is part of a series interviewing Society of Young Inklings’ mentors. This week we’re featuring Naomi Kinsman. Along with being a mentor, Naomi is also the founder and executive director of Society of Young Inklings.

 

Tell us two truths and a lie… but keep us guessing! We’ll save the reveal for the end.

I’ll give you three theatre stories.

  1. One time, in the middle of a dance sequence in Hello Dolly, I fell off the stage into the orchestra pit.
  2. Another time, I was on roller skates wearing a clown wig, singing “Go, Go, Go, Joseph,” and I was accidentally flung off the edge of a spinning wheel of skaters, and hurtled off stage.
  3. A third time, while in a show called Lettuce and Lovage, I had to perform with a cat in my arms. She panicked and clawed me, so I let her go and she ran yowling into the audience.
What are you writing right now?

I’m working on a middle grade fantasy with the working title of How to Catch a Hobgoblin, that features a cast of my own creation alongside Titania, Oberon and Puck from Midsummer Night’s Dream. It has been fun to blend characters and events from my imagination with literary ones created by the one-and-only Shakespeare.

Tell us about a time you got stuck creatively and how you got unstuck.

I was stuck with my current book, How to Catch a Hobgoblin. One draft of the book had too complex of a plot and the next was too simple. Then, one of our Inklings mentors read a chapter or two, and reminded me that in Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare used humor to counterbalance the other elements of his plot. “Where’s the humor in your plot?” she asked me. Hmmm… After a week of pondering, a few new characters popped into my mind, a subplot to add humor and quirkiness to my story. Suddenly, my plot was lively again. Aha!

Tell us about a mentor who made a difference in your creative life.

My high school theatre director, Mr. Erickson, didn’t treat us like high schoolers. He imagined the most lavish, amazing productions, and he gave us the room to create the sets and costumes to make them happen. He helped me see that when you set a wild goal, and you work together, you can achieve incredible things. He also taught me that if you’re going to be the lead in a show, it is your job to sweep the stage, to clean the paintbrushes, and to do any other chore that others might not want to do to make the show happen. Being a leader means you have even more responsibility to have a great attitude, give back, and lead by example.

What is your favorite color?

Purple.

 

What is your favorite food?

Vegetable samosas. Or maybe Pad Thai. I’m not sure. I also love peanut butter and honey sandwiches.

What was your favorite book as a child?

Once I entered third grade, it was From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. But, up to that point, it was Jumanji. I read that book hundreds of times. I suppose they have similarities… an air of mystery and wonder, and both walk the line between what is possible and the far-fetched.

 

What was your first job?

I worked at the Forestry Center in Portland, OR, and one of my favorite parts of the job was leading tours to show people around the museum and to teach them about trees and nature. I also remember the wood-polish smell of the shop, and how soothing it was to walk into the quiet space in the morning at the start of my shift.

So, which was the lie?

The cat nearly leapt into the audience in Lettuce and Lovage, but I caught her in time. Phew!

 

 

 


Are you interested in mentorship through Society of Young Inklings? Click below to learn more! We offer a free mini-course that explains our teaching methodology as well as a free introductory call with our Mentorship Coordinator.

 

Tell Me More About Mentorship!