Don’t Let Craft Advice Silence Your Authorial Voice

Erin Fulmer Writes SFF

The internet is full of craft advice for writers. Some of it is even good advice. All of it purports to make your writing better, more readable, more relatable, more salable.

I’m not talking about grammar advice, like how to punctuate dialogue. That’s a mechanical skill. It’s mostly objective, at least within its specific context (i.e. writing in English, because other languages treat dialogue much differently).

This is about the subjective stuff. It’s about choices authors make to meet audience expectations or subvert them. It’s about the “rules” that supposedly separate good writing from bad.

Mostly, it’s about style and the ever-elusive attribute known as “voice.” I’ve written here about character voice, but this is not about staying in character. This is about your personal, unique authorial voice and how craft advice can file that away until it loses what made it yours.

You know the advice I…

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A Magical Blog For Picture Book Writers

I just found this beautiful blog by author/illustrator Kelsey Lecky. She gave a wonderful presentation for SCBWI Carolinas in January. Watch for her wonderful books and if you see her featured at a conference, especially online, attend if you can.

Storystorm 2020 Day 30: The Big Dillustrators Will Get You Out of a Pickle

This post is chock full of great ways to capture the wild idea.

Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

by Tannie Smith, Becky Porter, Julia Mann and Kristin Wauson, “The Big Dillustrators”

Hi everyone! We are a critique group of four female illustrators in Austin, Texas. The best thing about having a critique group with specific goals and purpose, is the power and support we give each other to generate and grow new ideas. When we met to discuss what we wanted to share with you all, we discovered each one of us comes up with ideas in completely unique ways, so we thought we would share with you, not just one, but four different tools to inspire your storytelling all year. Enjoy!


Tannie Smith

Each of us is amazingly unique, not just in how we look, but also how we process information. I’m a visual person by nature. Taking endless notes or listening to lengthy explanations has never clicked with me. Just ask my husband anytime he…

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Storystorm 2020 Day 29: Jill Esbaum Knocks the Rust Off Her Receptor Antennae

Go a little crazy and jot down all your most absurd ideas.

Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

by Jill Esbaum

One little story idea per day. That’s all Storystorm asks.

Yet, in past years, I’ve petered out about January 18th-19th. Oh, I didn’t lack enthusiasm. I lacked discipline. Sooner or later my mind wanted to spin one of those sparkly new ideas into a story, and I let it. Then I got the teensiest bit obsessed, to the exclusion of everything else. My good intentions to make it to the 31st? Kaput. Sorry, Storystorm.

THIS YEAR, I made it. This year, I approached Storystorm not as a hopeful writer looking for a great new idea, but purely as playtime. Farting around. Romping through my brain’s weirder recesses.

Are the ideas I jotted far-fetched? Absurd? Impossibly lame? Yeah, baby. And woo-hoo! Because nobody cares. Nobody. For me, Storystorm is a way of knocking the rust from my receptor antennae so ideas can keep pinging in long beyond January…

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Storystorm 2020 Day 26: Laurie Wallmark Mixes and Matches

Lots of great ways to get ideas when you are stuck.

Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

by Laurie Wallmark

When I talk to kids, I tell them books have origin stories just like superheroes do. Nothing like mentioning Wonder Woman or Black Panther to get kids excited. Once I have their attention, and now that I have yours, I talk about four methods of coming up with ideas for a story. Most of the time, my story ideas come from a combination of these approaches.

My first method is follow your passion. As many of you know, I write picture book biographies of [dead] women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math). Just to be clear, the dead part isn’t my passion, just my preference in choosing a subject. I do, though, love science and math. It’s also important to me that children know that no matter their sex, race, ethnicity, gender identity etc., anyone can enter these fields. I choose to highlight the accomplishments of women…

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Storystorm 2020 Day 25: Bonnie Adamson Shares Pearls of Wisdom

If you want to write and illustrate picture books, read this post!

Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

by Bonnie Adamson

Hello, Storystormers! Care to jump into the Way-Back Machine with me? As someone who has participated in every Storystorm/PiBoIdMo challenge since the very first one in 2009, I thought it might be fun to share some Pearls of Wisdom gathered along the way.

In 2009, I had just signed an illustration contract for my fifth book with Raven Tree Press, I was exploring a new(ish) social media platform called “Twitter” where I met the wonderful Tara Lazar, who was already busy making the world a happier place for picture book writer and illustrators. Author/poet Greg Pincus and I had founded #kidlitchat on Twitter over the summer, and I was soooo ready for this picture book idea thing. At the close of the 2009 challenge, I went through each day’s ideas, expanding them into two or three sentence synopses, and developed four of what I judged the best…

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Storystorm 2020 Day 21: Joana Pastro’s Senses Search for Prompts

Good advice here for writers, and an interesting answer to the first question non-writers ask.

Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

by Joana Pastro

A few months ago, I was summoned for jury duty. When lawyers went around the room asking questions as part of the selection process, one of them surprised me by asking where I get ideas for my stories. About fifty pairs of eyes stared at me, so I gave my go-to one-word answer: everywhere. I wasn’t lying—I was under oath after all—but when I noticed that all eyes were still on me, I realized they expected more. So I expanded my response with a series of examples that I’m pretty sure sounded like a bunch of mumbo jumbo.

At the end of the day I wasn’t selected for the jury, but I left determined to have a better answer for next time.

So…where do I find ideas for my stories?

Everywhere. Allow me to expand.

All day long we are exposed to an enormous amount of information…

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Storystorm 2020 Day 14: Lauren Kerstein Writes What She Would’ve Loved as a Child

So much fun remembering the first books I loved. What were yours?

Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

by Lauren Kerstein

As we ponder new ideas this month, I thought it might be helpful to think about the books we loved as children, as well as imagine the books we wished we’d had. Ideas are lurking in those musings. I just know it!

What books did you love most as a child?

  • Think about the books that changed your life.
  • The stories that resonated with you.
  • The characters who still live in your mind and heart.

Whether you were an avid reader or not, I bet you can remember a book that really mattered to you.

I vividly remember a few books that enriched my childhood life. I remember my third-grade teacher reading The Giving Tree (by Shel Silverstein) and crying. I realized in that moment that books have power.

I also remember the impact Pippi Longstocking had on me as a child. Pippi lived life on her…

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