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Coaching KidLit – EPISODE 27:

Writing Craft Book Roundup

In this episode of Coaching KidLit, Christy and Sharon dig into eleven great Writing Craft Books, why they like them, how they use them, and why you might want to check them out.

The discussions centers ways to use of craft writing books and materials when writing KidLit, including tools and approaches for character development, story structure, and effective editing.


Books Mentioned:

Story Genius by Lisa Cron

The Magic Words by Cheryl Klein

Goal, Motivation, and Conflict: the Building Blocks of Good Fiction by Debra Dixon

Key Topics Covered:

  • Editing with a plan
  • Character development
  • Emotional storytelling
  • Respectful diverse representation
  • Practical writing application
  • Continuous learning and improvement
  • Craft books selection and use




[00:00:00] Sharon Skinner: Welcome to Coaching KidLit, a podcast about writing and publishing Good KidLit.

[00:00:07] Christy Yaros: We dig into various aspects of writing craft through a KidLit lens, and provide inspiration and clear actionable items to help writers like you move forward on their KidLit writing journeys.

[00:00:18] Sharon Skinner: I’m Sharon Skinner. Author Accelerator, certified book coach and author of Speculative Fiction and KidLit, including picture books, middle grade and young adult.

[00:00:29] Christy Yaros: And I’m Christy Yaros, author accelerator, certified book coach and story editor, focusing on KidLit, including middle grade and young adult.

[00:00:41] Sharon Skinner: Hey Christy!

[00:00:41] Christy Yaros: Hey Sharon.

[00:00:42] Sharon Skinner: So, we’re going to do a craft book roundup today.

[00:00:46] Christy Yaros: We are.

[00:00:47] Sharon Skinner: I’m excited about this.

[00:00:48] Christy Yaros: There are so many good craft books out there, and this was a little tough to narrow down so that we could have a bite sized conversation that does not overwhelm our listeners, but I think we’ve got a good list.

[00:01:00] Sharon Skinner: Yeah, I do too, and I think it’s Fascinating that, we both chose our books and we chose very different books. I have 233 craft or writing books on my shelf. I just looked at my book buddy. 233. I thought it was a hundred and something. No, Sharon just can’t help herself. I think it’s interesting that while we both chose our own books, we didn’t talk about what we were going to choose. And we chose a nice selection of books that we want to talk about today, but we both chose Story Genius by Lisa Cron. So do you want to start there?

[00:01:34] Christy Yaros: Yes, I think we should, because, I don’t know about for you, but for me, story genius is literally why I am a book coach. So, it felt like something that I obviously had to include on my list. And at the time right now that we are recording, even though this won’t air until next week, I just passed my five year anniversary of deciding, huh, I think I might want to be a book coach.

And it is because on page 45 of Story Genius, there is a line that says, “I knew that my friend Jenny Nash Novelist and book coach had been toying with an idea,” blah, blah, blah. And that stopped me. I was reading Story Genius from page one. I got to page 45, saw that, and it stopped me in my tracks. And I said, book coach, what is a book coach?

And that began my journey here.

amazing sometimes But it also is an important book because I think for me, it. solidified to me the way that I already thought about story but was not seeing other craft books talk about it in that way.

[00:02:33] Sharon Skinner: Okay, Story Genius for me is all about nerding out and being geeky about the brain science behind story. We know story lights up our brains, but the fact that story lights up. Reader brains everywhere is, really cool . And one of the things that I love about this book is that on page 55, she says, “Your protagonist’s brain is your reader’s portal. The events by themselves mean nothing. It’s what those events mean to someone that has us compulsively turning the pages.” And. I love that because I’m always talking to writers about Access, giving us access into character and that, that is what makes it a journey that we want to go on. Right? It’s my road trip analogy. We want to get in the car with somebody that we want to spend 350, 500, 600 pages with, but it’s the whole idea that I’m always trying to tell my writers, even before I became a book coach, I was telling people in my classes and in my presentations, you need to give us access.

We need to get inside the character. We need to know where we’re going with them and why we’re going. And I just love that she says right here that ” Your protagonist’s brain is your reader’s portal.” That kind of sums up what I’ve been talking about for years.

[00:03:57] Christy Yaros: Yeah. And almost anybody that you talk to who has read this kind of feels the same way in my experience that it resonates with, I guess the people that I And I think that’s something that I resonate with and I have conversations with, it resonates with them too. So that’s always a good thing to have kind of a common feeling about what stories should do and what it should accomplish and how to get there. And I think for me too, especially being definitely, as I know you are like a character driven kind of person that this made a lot of sense to me.

[00:04:29] Sharon Skinner: Yes, so it’s definitely on my recommended reading list for folks who want to get inside of what that means and understand story from that level.

[00:04:40] Christy Yaros: Yeah, and I. You know, it came out in 2016 and I think that if this had been around when I was in grad school or even when I was in undergrad, it probably would have fundamentally changed the way that I approached writing from an earlier stage in my life.

[00:04:54] Sharon Skinner: I agree, so what’s next on your list? Because I know that we both came at this from slightly different directions. And I know that we both came at it from a coaching perspective. So what are the books that end up on our desks a lot? What are the ones that have been the go tos recently or in the last year with clients or that we find ourselves revisiting for different clients throughout our time working with them, or at least the topics seem to crop up.

So talk a little bit about how you chose your books and what the next book is on your list ,

[00:05:27] Christy Yaros: Yeah, so, I’m not as organized as you, I don’t know exactly how many craft books I have, but I know it’s like a crap ton, like if that is a number that counts as anything.

[00:05:37] Sharon Skinner: or a craft ton.

[00:05:39] Christy Yaros: A craft ton, that’s better, yes. And I am a weird person who will own a Kindle copy or an ebook and a physical copy of the same book. So just trying to I have sometimes is, is crazy. So for sure. If I could find it easily, that was a good sign to me that this is something that I share a lot and I should share. I think part of it is, like you said, what I’ve been doing with my clients, like what I’ve been pulling out and sending to. So I guess I have all of My current clients to thank for pushing me into the direction that I’ve chosen these books, but like you said, there are so many great craft books out there.

But as KidLit people, all of the rules don’t apply to us the same way. And so you can look at something that’s written for adults and they’re like, this is how you should write a book. And if you wrote a book like that as a middle grade, it’s not the same.

So for that reason, I really love Cheryl Klein’s The Magic Words, because to me, it’s literally, you know, writing great books for children and young adults. And she. calls out those great craft books that we’ve already read, but then takes the advice that they give and puts it into how it applies to children’s and young adult books, so I appreciated that. And obviously, Cheryl Klein, if you don’t know, is a fantastic editor and a published writer in her own right she totally knows what she’s talking about and I love what she says, but the examples that are given are middle grade and young adult books.

[00:07:11] Sharon Skinner: So yeah, that’s a book that we both own. And that’s a book that I really like as well. Especially for exactly what you were saying. That the examples are very specific. She’s done an interpretation or a translation of some of those other craft books into here’s what it means for kids. Here’s how to apply it.

[00:07:32] Christy Yaros: And as an editor in publishing houses and the person who’s out there, buying the books that we’re writing, this is how she’s actually helped her own, authors to be published. And it’s hefty, but it’s really useful.

And I don’t know if we should categorize our books, but you know how there are books that you would read from start to finish, and then there are books that you just kind of jump in and out of, depending on what you need at the time, and I think this is kind both, right? It’s worth a read through, but it’s also good to keep so that you could just be I’m looking at point of view, let me see what she says about point of view. How do I hop in there? I’m ready to revise. What does she say about revising? Let me hop in there.

[00:08:11] Sharon Skinner: it covers a lot of ground. So I agree with you that. I sort of went in an interesting direction to organize, because as you said, I like to be organized. So after I pulled these books and looked at them because these are the books I’ve been pulling the most recently. I realized there was A way to organize them, to put them in order. So there’s an order for me in my brain of these books, and the first one that I want talk about is Goal, Motivation, and Conflict: the Building Blocks of Good Fiction by Debra Dixon The reason that I chose this one is because a lot of the clients who come to me are figuring out their stories and they’re still figuring out who their characters are and what their characters want and need and this book is a really great book to develop goals for your characters, both your internal and your external goals, which we know are very important.

And then the motivation that pulls them through the story and the conflicts that you can set up for them along the way. And I think this is a really great place to start, because it’s one of the places that we start in the blueprint for our writers is, you know, what does your character want What is it that they want, right?

What do they need? So that’s a book that I chose for that reason.

[00:09:28] Christy Yaros: Do you give any caveats on that book since that is aimed at, perhaps an adult writing audience, or is it good as is?

[00:09:36] Sharon Skinner: it’s full of really good information about just what a goal can look like. So, one of the examples in here is The Wizard of Oz. So it does look through the classics as well, and it offers across the board, some very good examples. For Dorothy, her external goal is to get home, which requires her to get first to the Emerald City, then to see the wizard, then get a broomstick.

So those are the smaller goals along the way to getting home, and her motivation is that Auntie Em is sick. So that’s the glue that sticks her to keep moving forward, and her internal goal or need is to find her heart’s desire in a place with no trouble, which is why, in the movie, she sings Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

So it’s great support for writers who are looking to ensure that they’re creating both internal and external goals for their characters.

[00:10:36] Christy Yaros: Great. So the next book on my list is significantly smaller, both in height and in number of pages from The Magic Words, but it is Writing Stories: ideas, exercises, and encouragement for teachers and writers of all ages by Carolyn Coman, who is a Newbery Award winning author of What Jamie Saw. Even though it’s got stuff, for teachers and writers of all ages, there’s some stuff in here that I have learned from craft workshops over the years that I have taken that I did not know the person who was giving the workshop had gotten from here so I’ve seen it over and over again and one of the great things in here that I love. She talks about storyboarding and where you literally write a box for each of your scenes and on top you write the emotion that’s happening and then you draw a little picture, which God help me, anybody who has to look at my pictures, of what’s happening. and then underneath you write, a phrase or a simple sentence stating the main thing that happens, and then it helps you to visualize that, hmm, I have, , five scenes in a row that are mad, mad, mad, mad, or Nothing’s happening.

Nothing’s happening. Nothing’s happening. And so that’s a tool that I heard many authors and presenters use in workshops.

[00:11:56] Sharon Skinner: I think that’s a great idea. There are a lot of ways to storyboard or to use note cards for scenes. There are a lot of different ways to do that, but it can be very, very helpful. Technically, the inside outline does that, which we something coach, which is that we learned from Author Accelerator when we got certified, we use the inside outline, and it’s a very similar process, but some people are more visual, and so having a little picture even if it’s a stick figure like I would draw.

[00:12:27] Christy Yaros: She does encourage stick figures. I will say I have a client who drew really beautiful pictures and it was a little angering because I can only draw stick figures and it was unnecessary, but it was fast for him. But taking the inside outline and putting it into that, breaking it, out and drawing a little picture to go with it, just anything that helps you zoom out and see on a higher level, some of the stuff that’s going on. And I think that’s a great tool for that,

[00:12:51] Sharon Skinner: And it’s another creative way to light up your brain with your story. I mean, there are some people who do what they call storyboards, but they’re like a Pinterest board or a collage or things like that. It’s just another way to light up your brain. But what I like about that process is that, yes, you can tell if your scenes are repetitive. Or if they’re not going anywhere and that’s a really great. Yeah, really great way to be able to back up and look at your story.

[00:13:18] Christy Yaros: Especially if you’re looking to cut Hmm, I have five scenes in a row that are essentially doing the same thing.

[00:13:23] Sharon Skinner: Yes. Well, you can use that process anywhere in the writing process, right? You can use it at the beginning. You can use it at the end to revise. It’s great. Okay, so my next choice, my next book that I tend to use, and I have a theatrical background, so I did a lot of theater starting from when I was a kid and then I was in, community theater. My first stint at college, I was a drama major, so I have a theater background and so when I. write characters. I get into character. When I am writing from a character’s viewpoint, I slip into their skin. I try to get inside them. just goes back to that, your character’s brain is your reader’s portal.

And so, for me, it’s just a matter of becoming that character. Because I have this theatrical background, and it’s for me easy to slip into But a lot of writers don’t. really have that ability to just slip in and out of other characters. They are the writer writing about people or writing about characters.

So I try to help a lot of my writers get into character. So this book is called Getting Into Character. By Brandilyn Collins, and it’s Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn from Actors. And it’s got a lot of really great stuff in here about getting into character, and how to slip inside the character, and how to understand character.

One of the lines that I think is really important, “A character should display only as many mannerisms as are necessary to convey what is important about him or her without distracting from the story and the character’s role within it.”

So your character can have a tick. Like, they can bite their nails, but if they bite their nails and twitch and kick their feet and bounce around and do all the other things, or if all your characters are biting their nails when they get nervous, it doesn’t show us anything about the character. So I think that’s one of the little things that I pull out of this is to talk about differentiating your characters as well.

[00:15:31] Christy Yaros: That’s a new one for me. I’m gonna have to add that to my list. I love that. so my next book kind of is a good follow up to that because once you figure out those things, how do you put it in your story without dumping it? Or, how much do you put in? So my next book is Show Don’t Tell, How to Write Vivid Descriptions, Handle Backstory, and Describe Your Character’s Emotions by Sandra Gerth. And this is one of those get in and get out kind of reference books it’s got a lot of easy, actionable, Checklists and things to look at to tighten up your writing when you get to that point. So that’s a great follow up to yours of when do you show, when do you tell, how do you reveal those things that you’ve learned about your character to reveal it to the reader and at what point

[00:16:23] Sharon Skinner: And how you show it, right? How you show the behaviors and the actions and things like that of a character are very revealing. And I love that book, Show Don’t Tell. That’s a great one. We talk about that all the time, of course, because you need both scene and summary in a story, but a lot of times writers will write in scene something that could be summarized and, then they summarize something that could be drawn out and shown in scene that would have more impact and give more to the reader and let us have more access

[00:16:56] Christy Yaros: Yeah and even more on a line level , it’s one of those, like sneaky teaching kind of books where it gives you an exercise that seems like you’re getting rid of filter words, but what you’re really doing is learning more about your character and showing it to us. So, for example, take the sentence, Tina was angry.

And how would you show your readers that Tina is angry without stating her emotions? So now you have to know about your character to know. How does this character react in this kind of situation? And how do you get across that without ever saying the word. And it’s a great resource for that.

And like I said, it’s good because if you’re at that point where If you need to learn the skill to move to the next step, it’s not going to bog you down by going in there. You’re not going to get lost in that book for weeks.

[00:17:39] Sharon Skinner: Right. It’s a great grab and go kind of book. And I can jump off of that. This is so fun because we didn’t plan this, but I can jump straight off of that into my next book, which is called The Emotional Craft of Fiction. How to Write the Story Beneath the Surface. And this is by Donald Maas And, he’s got several really good books out there. But It goes deeper into what you were just talking about. Instead of saying the word angry, showing how the character feels and giving access to the reader of what’s going on with the character. So “Personal stakes are why protagonists must act for themselves. It’s the drive that comes from inner need and yearning. It’s what would propel a protagonist toward change, even if the events of the novel weren’t happening.” That’s the other piece of it, is that he talks very deeply about arc and change for characters and character development. And so this book is one of my go tos. For that, because I have a lot of writers who write from their heads and not from their hearts or through the body.

And it’s hard for them to get visceral emotion on the page. They just want to write, so and so was angry and move on. And so this is a really great book to help people get from that to where they’re showing.

[00:19:07] Christy Yaros: Okay, so my next one is moving, maybe off the page a little bit. And this is Craft in the Real World, Rethinking Fiction Writing and Workshopping by Matthew Salesses.

And this is another book that I wish I had when I was in grad school and undergrad as a creative writing student because it turns, everything that We have been taught about how we should present our works to others for critique and, I use this for myself as a coach but also in my group coaching program on how we should talk to each other about our work and how we should present it and I love the way that he frames things as where many of us who have been Traditionally trained have been taught that we sit there and we just listen and we’re not allowed to say anything and people can say whatever they want you just take it and that never worked for me. And I love the way that he has now taken this and given ways for people to approach from a place of curiosity, rather than from critique. And so, examples of questions that you can ask someone, instead of saying, I think you should. Instead of centering the critique on you as the critiquer, it turns it back to the writer. Like, have you thought about doing it this way? What would your story look like if you did this instead? Which as a coach, that’s how we approach things, right? We’re not telling you what to do. We’re asking You questions that help you think deeper about your writing.

[00:20:50] Sharon Skinner: Yeah, I, that’s a great book. I really appreciated that book for a lot of the aspects that you’re talking about, but also the aspect of approaching with curiosity rather than from a place of critique, being reminded in that book that Other people’s experiences are very different than our own, and that’s why approaching it from that curiosity viewpoint is so much more powerful for everyone in the room, than approaching it from a, I didn’t like the way you did this, or your character doesn’t make sense to me, because I can’t relate to that.

[00:21:25] Christy Yaros: right, because I’m looking at this through my lens of how I’ve lived my life. And I think especially with KidLit, it’s hard for people who are not used to reading middle grade and young adult. If you’re critiquing with people who typically write for adults, a lot of the comments will be, these stakes don’t feel high enough.

There’s not enough description here. That’s not the way that these books for our audience. And so, taking the approach of asking the author what their intent is, and then looking at it more of, If that was your intention, like if you did this so that the reader would get this, not how I feel. It’s a roundabout way because really the point of the book is, de centering the Western storytelling, That we’ve all been taught is the only way to do things. Many of us had been taught in the past and hopefully are not being taught that anymore. But in a roundabout way, I think it’s particularly helpful for KidLit writers.

[00:22:18] Sharon Skinner: I agree, and exactly what you said is the idea that we’re not those kids, well some of us still are, I’m about that age most of the time, but A lot of people are trying to write about kids when they’re not kids anymore. And so going back to getting inside that character, doing it from a place of curiosity and understanding with KidLit and Young Adult, with teenagers, it’s the end of the world if you don’t get to go to the dance or if you don’t get that pair of shoes or especially for middle graders too, if you don’t fit in, it can feel like the end of the world because that is their world.

[00:22:52] Christy Yaros: And also keeping in mind that our audience is not us. Like our demographics are not the same as what children’s demographics are now and current children have different experiences than what we had and we can’t take our adult experiences and say, I don’t like this book because, and instead saying what is it that you’re trying to do and how can I help you get there, which could also be a whole other topic of conversation much like any of the things we’re talking about.

[00:23:18] Sharon Skinner: so, true. Okay, so, funny that you should bring that up because my next choice, my next book on my list is called Writing the Other, A Practical Approach by Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward. This is a very thin book. It’s a fast read, but it’s one that I like to revisit on a regular basis, especially when I’m talking to my writers about writing the other. What I love about Nisi and Cynthia’s approach is that they never say you can’t or don’t or you shouldn’t write the other.

What they talk about in this book is how to do it well and respectfully and from a place of curiosity and knowledge. And I just love that about this book. And on page 46. In this book, there’s a statement that I’ve underlined and starred, “Learning boils down to making mistakes, seeing what you’ve done wrong and making corrections. If you’re going to be a good writer, if you’re going to improve, you mustn’t flinch from this process.” And I love that, it echoes the learn better, do better approach to being a better person in the world,

[00:24:28] Christy Yaros: so, what is the other, from their perspective? So if people aren’t familiar,

[00:24:32] Sharon Skinner: So they’re looking at what they call roars, R-O-A-A-R-S. It’s an acronym for race, orientation, ability, age, religion, and sex. So, that’s what they’re looking at when they talk about writing the other

[00:24:49] Christy Yaros: other than you.

[00:24:49] Sharon Skinner: Yeah, other than you, people who are not you. So, this is a great book. I highly recommend it. And they also do a lot of online training and webinars on this topic and around this topic. So, highly recommend this book.

[00:25:03] Christy Yaros: This is something that Some of us may take for granted, like, I have a very strong editing background. For many years, that was my job, line editing and copy editing. But for many of our writers, that is not their background. So Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King is a fantastic resource with lots of checklists and very actionable. Here’s how you look at this scene. Here’s what you’re looking for. Is this here? Is this not here? How do you fix them, with, again, Not getting bogged down. I think when you get to line editing, you can stay there for a long time if you don’t have an action plan of why you’re going into that scene.

So this is a way for you to look at some of these checklists and take something and say, okay, I am going through and I am just looking for this right now.

And then get out, get in, get out.

[00:25:55] Sharon Skinner: Yeah, that is a great book for showing how to approach editing and Exactly what you said, not get all bogged down or sucked into the weeds when you’re trying to do a specific thing. And they have it planned out beautifully in that book. And that’s another one you can dip into and out of in the editing process.

[00:26:15] Christy Yaros: Yes, I mean that’s one where I would recommend reading it once through from beginning to end, preferably not when you’re like literally about to be in the process, so that it’s something you can kind of absorb. The way that you and I teach things Is to look at your story from the macro level and move down.

So by the time you’ve gotten to this part your line editing stuff, your characters are set, your world is set, your story is set, your plot, all that, right? Now you’re making the words prettier and serve the purpose that they need to serve. So, you need a plan when you’re doing that, because otherwise you’re going to start changing things that might affect something else.

[00:26:50] Sharon Skinner: Yeah, once the story’s down now it’s nuance, it’s tone, it’s all of those things. You don’t want to start saying, Oh, well, in this scene, I will have the grandmother not be dead yet. And then you, realize later that, Oh, Hey, I got to go back and change that the grandmother was already dead.

It’s like a sweater that you’ve just knitted and now you’re putting the embroidery on, right? You don’t want to pull a thread completely out.

[00:27:14] Christy Yaros: No, you should have figured that out already and we’ll just throw this in here as a bonus. If you find yourself moving around words on a page, you are editing, you are not revising. If you have not revised yet, back up. Zoom out. Go fix that other stuff and then come back. And then when you come back, here’s an example of one of the exercises they give in their checklist.

“Look back over a scene or chapter that introduces one or more characters. How much time, if any, have you spent describing the new character? Are you telling us about characteristics that will later show up in dialogue and action? So that particularly goes back to kind of what the other books that we’ve been looking at.

You’ve figured out all this stuff, you’ve put it in, and now you’ve probably shown us and you’ve told us and you need to cut one of those. I think that comes up a lot when people are getting down to the line editing. You’ve done the job. And you weren’t sure that you did the job, so you stated it again to make sure that the reader got it, and now you gotta go back and pull a lot of that stuff out.

[00:28:11] Sharon Skinner: Agreed. Well, this is going to be the one place where I think that we’re connected, but we might be a little out of order because my next book is Novel Metamorphosis. Uncommon Ways to Revise by Darcy Pattison.

[00:28:24] Christy Yaros: Oh, it wasn’t even planned, it’s funny. So if you find yourself moving words around on the page but haven’t revised,

[00:28:30] Sharon Skinner: then, jump backwards to Novel Metamorphosis, Uncommon Ways to Revise. What I like about this is that it’s a workbook and it’s, got lots of great exercises for how to go through your book and she’s where I learned the term re envision rather than revise. Sometimes you want to re envision, sometimes you want to revise, and she’s got some really great exercises in here.

And it’s everything from plotting to micro plotting to adding depth. with narrative pattern and, subplots and all of that. So she’s got great exercises in here. And this is also a book that I would say read it through. Of course, I’m gonna read through the book first and mark it up kind of how I roll with Craft I want to read the book first, typically, most of the time, cover to cover. But this one, it’s dippable. You can dip in, depending on what things you need for your particular situation. But it’s also something that before you ever get to the revision level of your book, you might want to have at least taken a peek at this.

[00:29:35] Christy Yaros: We’ve talked about Darcy’s methods before when we did our re envisioning. Versus a revising episode where we talked about the shrunken manuscript. So Darcy definitely has some great ideas for writers.

[00:29:46] Sharon Skinner: She’s also a KidLit writer and publisher and does a lot in that realm, so she’s really somebody that I recommend you follow, to see what she’s doing out there in the realm of KidLit publishing.

[00:29:58] Christy Yaros: So, that’s 11 books for you. as quickly as we could go through them, which is just a drop in the bucket Of the craft books out there. So with all of that, do you have an action item for our listeners on how they can incorporate craft books into their writing process?

[00:30:18] Sharon Skinner: I do, but it’s more of a cautionary tale. I would say that when you are looking at craft books and you are working through craft books, don’t get too bogged down in any one answer. There’s no perfect answer for the book you’re writing. There are just things that you can try and things that can help. And a lot of times with craft books, what Christy was talking about, this dipping in when you need something on viewpoint, or dipping in when you need something on character is a really good approach, but there’s not one answer to the question of how should I do this? Right? This goes back to a process is personal. Yes, there are great ways to do things and there a lot of great craft books out there. The other thing is, remember, these are all guidelines. There aren’t hard and fast rules in how we write fiction. And some of what we’ve been taught or what’s stuck in our heads are things like, What Matthew’s book craft in the real world tells us maybe we haven’t been taught the right approach.

So I would have more than one craft book on any given topic and dip into more than one craft book on that topic when you need it. That’s the way I would approach it.

[00:31:30] Christy Yaros: Yeah, that’s a great point. I love that. Like we said, there’s so many of them out there. It’s kind of making sure that you’re not using it also as a procrastination tool to keep yourself from writing, right?

[00:31:39] Sharon Skinner: Oh yeah. Absolutely.

[00:31:41] Christy Yaros: You can learn and learn, but you have to do, also. As you quoted earlier, you have to make the mistakes.

[00:31:48] Sharon Skinner: At some point you have to do the writing and you have to do the hard work.

[00:31:51] Christy Yaros: So my action item, then, is one of the things that I do with my writers when we are planning, I do quarterly planning, and we’ve been doing monthly planning, is looking at, what you want to accomplish for the next month, what you need to get there, and then taking a look at your knowledge gaps.

What are the things that you need to learn in order to do that ? Because it’s easy to say, I’m going to self-edit my book this month, but if you don’t know what you need to do to do that, you’re not going to get it done. Or you’re going to end up spinning in your pages and moving words around without a plan.

So, my action item is to think about that at any time in your process. I mean, even your weekly planning, your monthly planning, whatever, what your knowledge gaps are. And then having a list of those things and then maybe incorporating some of that into your writing process of This month, I know I need to learn more about characterization, and here are the resources I’m going to check out, and I’m only going to spend this much time figuring it out so that I can learn this thing so I can do this next thing, and then waiting until You need the next thing before you learn it. That’s kind of the way I like to approach things but see if that is helpful for you just to identify maybe it is a craft book but maybe it’s also someone giving a workshop about that topic because typically people who are good at giving workshops have taken Into account all of these craft books and are synthesizing that information for you. I mean, that’s what we do, for our clients.

[00:33:18] Sharon Skinner: That’s what we do as, coaches. I don’t think anybody necessarily needs 233 books that are craft writing related. I’m just the person who wants them and wants to have read them and wants to pull out of them what’s of interest to me. I’m not suggesting that you go out and get ten books on character if you’re learning about character.

Just the ones that speak to you, go to the bookstore or the library and find the ones that kind of speak to you, speak your language and use those ones. Those are the ones you want to dip into. The other thing to keep in mind is that we all bring certain skills with us when we start on our writing journeys and we all have skills that we still need to learn.

And if I felt like I had already learned it all, I wouldn’t still be buying. Craft books and going to webinars and going to conferences and learning new things along the way. But I’m happy to share those with my clients and with my newsletter subscribers and with our listeners here. We’re both happy to share that kind of information that we’re gleaning and scraping from everywhere.

[00:34:20] Christy Yaros: You never know, like all of these books that we mentioned may have a chapter on point of view and maybe only one of them really clicks with you in a way Like, oh, I get it now in a way I didn’t get it before. And keep track of that. have a chart or something like,

this is who resonates with me about point of view. This is who I’m going to look at and ignore some of the others, don’t force it. There’s a resource out there for you

[00:34:45] Sharon Skinner: I have found in my coaching and in my teaching that different people need to hear things different ways for it to click. And so for me, having all these resources helps me to be able to articulate for a specific person when they’re struggling. I can go pull the book off the shelf behind me of all those books that I have and say, this is what I think will help you.

So we are. Curating, if you will, books for our specific clients. But these are the ones that we have been visiting most recently and we just wanted to share them with you.

[00:35:18] Christy Yaros: And we will probably have to do this again with some different books because it was getting hard to choose on some of them.

[00:35:25] Sharon Skinner: Yeah

[00:35:26] Christy Yaros: but also I just wanted to make one other quick comment that, I was recently at the New York S-C-B-W-I conference, and I attended a workshop on revision with Kate Messner, and I have heard Kate Messner speak about revision at least three times in the last 10 to 12 years.

And a lot of what she said is okay. Yep, I remember that. I remember that. And then she pulls out a nugget that. Maybe she has said every other time, or maybe she hasn’t, but it hit me in the way I needed to hear it at that moment. So I think that’s also just something to keep in mind that like you said, we’ll never know it all.

And even if we do, we’re not going to remember that we know it all. We might need to be reminded.

[00:36:05] Sharon Skinner: Yeah. Sometimes you hear exactly what you need to hear when you need to hear it.

Speaking of which we hope that today you heard something that you needed to hear that will help you on your writing journey.

[00:36:16] Christy Yaros: Absolutely, and join us again next month. Thank you everybody.

[00:36:20] Sharon Skinner: Thanks for listening. Bye!

[00:36:23] Christy Yaros: We hope you enjoyed this episode of Coaching KidLit, a writing and book coaching podcast for writers who want to level up their KidLit writing game.

[00:36:30] Sharon Skinner: For more about us and to discover what a book coach can do for you, check out and follow us on social media.



Follow us on Instagram and Twitter: @CoachingKidLit

For more information about Sharon Skinner, visit or follow her on Instagram @sharon_skinner_author_bookcoach and Twitter @SharonSkinner56.

For more information about Christy Yaros, visit or follow her on Instagram and Twitter @ChristyYaros.


Want to know more about working with a Book Coach on your KidLit book? Check out my KidLit Coaching Page  or fill out my inquiry form for a FREE Consult call and let’s get started!

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