Posts filed under ‘Question of the Week’

Question from a young writer: characters making their own decisions!

“What do you do when your antagonist and your protagonist start to get along waaaay better than they were supposed to?  They’re supposed to hate each other, but Tefached just helped Lissa on her algebra homework.  Help!! this was not supposed to happen!” ~ Kaylie, grade 8

Great question, Kaylie!

The excitement of writing characters and following them is sometimes balanced with the frustration of these same characters not doing what you want!
I have a few suggestions for you:

  1. Maybe the antagonist has ulterior motives; he/she is “helping” to get close to the protagonist to really come in for the “kill.” You know what they say “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer!”
  2. Perhaps the antagonist has a soft spot, as every villain should. This may be that awkward scene where the protag makes a fool of herself and rejects the help the antag. is offering, which she may later regret out of guilt or riling up the antag. for revenge?
  3. Your characters may be trying to tell you something: maybe you have the antagonist wrong? Maybe there’s a stronger antagonist lurking around the corner?
  4. Or maybe the characters are meant to be buddies, but not until some pivotal scenes happen. In this case, work backwards and see how they ended up here, getting along. Save the scene you’ve written for the end…

Good luck and let me know how it turns out!

Do you have a writing question? Send it to me in an email and you may see it posted here ! mjcwriter”at”comcast”dot”net


December 1, 2009 at 12:03 am

The Authors are coming…the authors are coming!

OK, I’ve been feeling a little guilty about something and need to come clean.


I’ve been cheating on you.

Well, it’s not what it seems. Really.

Hear me out.

My other blog, Writers Inspired, was created first, about a year ago. I created that blog as a means to  communicate with fellow writers who took a Christina Katz on-line course with me. This was were we’d keep each other on track with our goals and post upcoming contests and editors or markets to stay away from.

Then, you were born. Well, not you, but WriteLikeCRAZY. I began this blog as a way for my own writing students to keep in touch, share their work and gain writing prompts, tips and links to contests. Plus, some silly stuff along the way.

I feel guilty that I’ve been reeling in authors, interviews and book giveaways for Writers Inspired, yet leaving my young readers high and dry. Say it ain’t so, Mary Jo.   *sigh*  It’s so.

So… how about I invite authors of young adult and teen novels to guest post and giveaway books here?! Yeah? You like that idea, right?

But, I need your help:

First, tell me some of your favorite NEW authors and their book titles.

Then, tell me what you’d like to know from these authors: how many hours a week they write; how many drafts until they feel confident that their manuscript is complete; do they drink pots of coffee and stay up all night to get their ideas on paper; how did they first get published – even ask them to describe their desk or work area.

I’ll start bringing in the authors – you start giving me some questions for them. Deal? Deal! Good, now I don’t feel dirty.

: )

September 16, 2009 at 12:02 am 2 comments

Thumbs up Thursday!

So many books become movies, and so often we vow that the book is always better! Case in point, this weekend, I found a copy of the movie Speak, starring Kristen Stewart (the book by the same name, is written by Laurie Halse Anderson; see my book review here.)




I have to say I was quite disappointed in the movie.  Although I expected to be. Anderson’s writing is so crisp and sarcastic, yet moving, but the acting in the movie was lacking on all accounts.  Don’t send computer viruses to my blog, now, all you Kristen Stewart fans. I like her, though of course  I’d rather be the one opposite Robert Pattinson in the Twilight movies, but I digress.

the notebook_movie

the notebook_book




Some movies I think were better than their books are: The Notebook (I’m sorry Nicholas Sparks fans! I think his writing is too ordinary and simplistic.) The movie was much more powerful.  Also, The Bridges of Madison County:  the movie  – Loved it! The book: not so much.  I felt the characters were better portrayed on screen, though we are talking about the great Meryl Streep (she did play in roles other than Mama Mia! for you younger readers!)


What are your thoughts on movies versus their books? Share!

September 10, 2009 at 12:02 am

What do you do when your story is “stuck” ?

*Courtesy of

{photo courtesy of}

A student asked: I have a great idea for a short story about two best friends and one moves away. Now, I’m stuck!


Well, every good story needs a problem, so cause some trouble for your characters! 


What kind of trouble, you ask?  That depends on your characters: get to know them, then flip their world upside down!


Try these tips:

  • Ask what your characters want – do a mini character questionnaire (what are their fears?)
  • What is the worst thing that can happen to Character #1? to Character #2?
  • Keep asking “What if?”  Make 5 scenarios: What if x happened?  What if y happened? Pick the most intriguing and go with it till you get stuck again, then ask another 5 times “what if?”
  • Just write what is in your head and heart, it can all be revised later!
  • Sometimes, you need to put the story away for a day and then come back with “fresh eyes”


Happy writing!  And, if you have ideas to combat the “stuckness” of writing, please share with us.

June 16, 2009 at 11:58 am 2 comments

Qustion of the Week

How do you write a cover letter and why do you use one?   quizzical-student-confused-106534

A cover letter is the letter you address to the editor and include with your  story, article, essay, or poem when you are mailing or emailing it for publication.  Your article, story, etc is your “submission” and the cover letter is included to introduce yourself and your work to the editor.

Use this template when submitting your story to an editor:

Editor Name

Market Name

Address Street

Address City, State  Zip

RE:  “Title of your story”

Dear “Editor”:  (make sure you have the correct spelling of the correct editor)

{First paragraph is where you compliment the editor on their magazine and tell them specifically what you like. If you haven’t read the magazine, don’t send your submission – do your homework first!}

I have been reading “Name of Magazine or Journal” for “number of years of months” and I especially enjoy(ed) (name a section you like to read or a particular story or article. Use the name of the story and the author.)

{Second paragraph: tell the title of your story and maybe a sentence or two on what it’s about. Tell the editor why you believe it should be published in their magazine!}

Attached is my story “title” for your consideration.  I think it would be a great fit for “Name of Magazine” or “Journal” because “give reason it is the perfect story for this magazine and its readers!)

{Final paragraph is your closing. Remember to be POLITE and PROFESSIONAL}

Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.


{Make sure to sign your full name and a way for the editor to reach you!}

“Your Name”

“your email”

“your home address”

**NEVER give out your social security number unless you receive a contract and then have your parents look it over first!

March 11, 2009 at 4:04 am

Question of the week: “How do you write a great conclusion?”


First, you must look at the journey of the story you’ve written:

  1. Did your character grow or change in some way?
  2. Are the main (and minor) problems resolved?
  3. When you re-read your story aloud to yourself and to others, do you feel that your “message” or idea has been conveyed?  Do the readers “get it?”
  4. Do you or others think or say “Then what happened?”
  5. Are the readers left thinking: “but what happened to Jimmy’s lost dog?” or “I thought they were moving in a week, what happened with the move?” You, as the writer, must answer and resolve all the problems you bring up, or at least bring them to a reasonable place where the reader can figure out what happened.
  6. Can you tell me in one sentence what your story is about?

If you can’t answer any of these, then you are not ready to write your conclusion.

Be true to yourself and your work. Do you feel you’ve written the complete story, told everything necessary to make your point?  Don’t be lazy, don’t use the easy way out: “and then I woke up! It was all a dream!” is pretty lame, I’m sorry to tell ya.  Take risks in your writing. If you don’t think you’ve dragged your characters through the mud and back, then you have more work to do.

A good rule is to put your story away for a few days, then pull it back out and read. Is the message or theme of the story clear? If not, get back to work. If you put it back down and are satisfied – you’ve finished one of many stories! Congratulations!

Truth is, artists (writers included) never feel that their work is truly completed. After many revisions and readings, sometimes you need to just let it speak for itself!

Do you have a questions about writing or publishing? Post it here! Your question might be selected as the next Question of the Week!

February 4, 2009 at 4:36 am 2 comments

Question of the week: Do we have a forum?

First of all, what’s a forum?

A forum is a place where you can link on-line and join a group of others who are in a discussion about a certain topic. Like a group who is writing horror fiction and want to talk about their characters with other horror fiction writers. We can set up different writing topics for different discussions. Those who were in YWP NaNo know what a forum is!

A: No, we don’t have a forum, yet! Do we need one? Do you guys want one? Let’s take a vote! Vote “yes” I want a forum so I can talk back and forth with other young writers on-line. Or “no”, not really interested in that.

Post your vote in the comments here. Come back on January 16 for the results!

January 10, 2009 at 4:37 am 5 comments

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Young Writers Program: NANOWRIMO

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