Friday, October 8, 2010

Writing Advice from Bethanie Murguia/Listen to a Kid!

Recently, after a breach of first-grade Mom coolness on my part (I tried to walk my six-year old into the building at morning drop-off), Kayla came home that day and spent a great deal of time telling me "how it is" in the First Grade. Of course, as a children's picture book writer, I was hanging on every detail. It's a good thing, too, because BOY has the First Grade changed since I roamed the elementary school halls. I learned a great deal while hearing the world "The World According to Kayla" and it can only serve to make me a better, more informed writer (and a cool mom at morning drop off). So it is with open ears that I listen to Bethanie when she shares her great writing advice to...

Listen to a Kid! by Bethanie Muguia
Make a date with a child (or two). For a few hours, try to see the world through their eyes. First of all, it’s fun. And second, it will remind you that children live in their own realms. Focus on the way they speak, their logic (or lack thereof!) and their unique perspective on the world.
Some adults retain the ability to think like children. For the rest of us, we need reminders. During my twenties, I tried to write and illustrate stories for children. But my time with kids was limited and my stories were clearly created through an adult lens. Now I am a mom. I have ample opportunity to witness and absorb the experiences of my kids. My oldest daughter (she’s four) often says things that remind me just how different her perspective is. I keep a little notebook of the gems that come up during our days together. Sometimes it’s just a phrase that catches my ear. I’m an illustrator too so I sketch if a pose or situation strikes me as humorous or quintessentially “kid”.

These notes and sketches can be amazing seeds for stories. Or, at the very least, they may provide a sentence or phrase to add authenticity to a story.

Bethanie Murguia earned her MFA from the School of Visual Arts. While in New York, she worked as an art director for Hearst Magazines. These days she can be found in Sausalito, California where she lives with her husband, two daughters and a 50-pound lap dog. She has received numerous accolades from the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

Her forthcoming picture book is Buglette, the Messy Sleeperfrom Tricycle Press/Random House Children's Books (May 2011). She working hard on new projects and doing her best not to spill the beans until she has "official clearance".

Please visit her website or blog to learn more:

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