Catherine Austen books for young people

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"Her writing cuts straight to the heart."

(The Globe and Mail)


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So Many Kinds of Tips!

In addition to the general tips that follow, check out my lists of tips to:

Ten Tips for Teen Writers

1. Write what you love. Don't let people push your creativity into their corner. Whether you write beautiful poetry or thrilling horror stories, someone will tell you that you are wasting your time. "Write something that will make money." "Write something that will change lives." "Write something for grown-ups." You will hear these things. Stay strong, and write the kinds of stories that move your heart. Not everyone will like your work, but some people will love it. Make sure you're one of them.

2. Open your mind. Unplug. Stare out of windows. Leave space for ideas to get in.

3. Read good writing in lots of genres. Read classics. Read poetry. Read history and science. Read out loud. Read books about writing and get a solid grip on grammar and style. Keep a list of words you love. Pay attention to language.

4. Get lots of exercise, mental and physical. Spend time with friends. Get in touch with nature. Learn how things work. Fall in love. The more stimulated you are by the world, the more ideas you can connect and the more you’ll have to say.

5. Keep a journal or ideas file and review it every now and then. Don't trust your stories to memory.

6. Persevere. Even if you have talent, dedication, and an ear for language, your writing may not be published for a LONG time. Don't be discouraged. All writers get rejected. Use the time to hone your craft. Keep writing the kinds of stories you love.

7. Don't agonize over your crappy stories. Spend most of your time on your few really gripping projects rather than bits of time on every mediocre one.

8. Submit your best work to your favorite publishers and then write something new. Do not sit around waiting for a reply - it may never be accepted and if it is, you'll have to rewrite anyway. Focus on your work-in-progress.

9. Draft fast but rewrite carefully. If you spend a lot of time fine-tuning the phrasing of your first draft, you'll have a hard time cutting chunks later for the sake of the whole. Polish at the end, over and over until it shines.

10. Don't let middle-aged people make you feel that you're not ready or that you can't be an artist or a success until you're older. That is just not true. Gordon Korman wrote books in middle school, Kenneth Oppel published his first novel in high school, and both of them have been writing great books ever since. Marie Claire Blais wrote La Belle Bete (Mad Shadows) as a teen and it's a masterpiece. S.E. Hinton wrote The Outsiders as a teen and it has been read by kazillions every year since. Some people are just incredibly gifted and hard-working even at a very young age. The truth you know as a teenager is just as true as the truth you know as an adult. Write your truth. And keep writing it.

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