The most common questions which children ask me:1. WHY DO I WRITE IN RHYME?
All of my stories are written in frolicsome, rhyming verse. Some folks feel that authors should not write in rhyme (because they say it's too difficult and it doesn't translate into other languages very well), but teachers and kids tell me they LOVE to read rhyming books! While it is true that it can be a challenge to tell a story in rhyme, I have so much fun writing in this style! I think rhyming words help kids learn to read. They also help kids to pay attention to a story (especially when kids are trying to guess which rhyming word will show up at the end of each sentence). Finally, rhyming words help kids to remember any important lessons that the characters might be trying to pass on to the reader.
2. HOW DO I DECIDE WHAT STORIES TO WRITE?
I like to write about topics that make people think or learn about something. Sometimes I have picked topics that are little "life lessons" I would like to share with my daughter: about friendship, tolerance, and respect for oneself and others. I think that a story can be an interesting way to explain some of these things (hey, it's better than a lecture!). I also like to put funny illustrations or comical text in my stories that will hopefully make kids (and their parents) laugh when they see or read them.
The cool thing about writing is that you can write about practically ANYTHING! Just make it a habit. Write about your feelings. Write about your day. Write about a trip. Write about school. Write about a hobby. Write about someone in your family. Write about your pet. Write about what you understand. Write about what you don't understand. Just write.
3. HOW LONG DID IT TAKE FOR ME TO WRITE THE NEW BEAR ON THE BLOCK?
I had the story idea floating around in my head for about a month. I thought of most of the characters that I wanted to include, and I worked out the details of the plot for another month. I wrote the story in an outline form, and then I transformed the action into rhyming sequences. That took about 2 more months. Then I revised (re-wrote what I had written to make it better) and revised and revised and revised and revised the story for another two months. I read it out loud, and I revised it some more. I asked my friends and family to read it, and I revised it some more. I read it to classrooms of kids, and I revised it some more. Then I finally started to send it out to publishers!
4. HOW DID I DRAW THE ILLUSTRATIONS IN MY BOOK?
Drawing the illustrations actually took longer than writing the story! All of the illustrations were drawn much larger than they appear in the book. I actually shrunk the images on a color copier.
First, I drew each picture in pencil. Then, I colored in the characters and scenery with watercolor pencils. Next, I used a thin paintbrush with water to create a watercolor effect from the colored pencils. I allowed the picture to dry completely, then I added highlights and shading with colorful magic markers. Finally, I outlined the drawing in black ink marker. WHEW! Since I have over 30 illustrations in the book, the whole process took me about 9 months (although I did not work on the drawings every day) to complete.
©2006 Staci Schwartz, MD