The May #Fouron400 Kidlit Writing Contest Window is now Open!

Q: What is Four on 400? 

A monthly contest that provides ONE LUCKY MG or YA WRITER with feedback on their opening 400 WORDS! As part of our ongoing mission to support writers, we’ll give a MG or YA writer feedback on their work from four of The Winged Pen’s contributors.

Q: Sounds exciting! How do I enter?

To enter, simply comment at the bottom of this post! At 4pm (EST) on the 5th of May, one winner will be randomly drawn from the Triwizard Cup. The winner will be notified and given 24 hours to submit his or her opening 400 WORDS. On the fourteenth of the month, the winner’s words, along with the title and genre of the work, will be posted to our blog with feedback from four of our members. Still have questions? See our Four on 400 page for additional details.

If you’re not sure how to leave a comment, check our FAQ page!

*Please check your email SPAM filter to make sure it will allow an email from info@thewingedpen.com

Want a chance to win an extra entry? Go to our Facebook page and find our post about the May Four on 400 contest. Then like and/or share our post. While you’re there, like our Facebook page if you haven’t already!

Remember, the contest window is only open until 4pm EST on May 5th, so don’t wait––enter now! Good Luck!

 May The Fourth be with you…

 

 

 

Our February #Fouron400 Kidlit Writing Contest Window is now Open!


Q: What is Four on 400? 

A monthly contest that provides ONE LUCKY MG or YA WRITER with feedback on their opening 400 WORDS! As part of our ongoing mission to support writers, we’ll give a MG or YA writer feedback on their work from four of The Winged Pen’s contributors.

Q: Sounds exciting! How do I enter?

To enter, simply comment at the bottom of this post! At 4pm (EST) on the 5th of February, one winner will be randomly drawn from the Triwizard Cup. The winner will be notified and given 24 hours to submit his or her opening 400 WORDS. On the fourteenth of the month, the winner’s words, along with the title and genre of the work, will be posted to our blog with feedback from four of our members. Still have questions? See our Four on 400 page for additional details.

If you’re not sure how to leave a comment, check our FAQ page!

*Please check your email SPAM filter to make sure it will allow an email from info@thewingedpen.com

Want a chance to win an extra entry? Go to our Facebook page and find our post about the February Four on 400 contest. Then like and/or share our post. While you’re there, like our Facebook page if you haven’t already!

Remember, the contest window is only open until 4pm EST on February 5th, so don’t wait––enter now! Good Luck!

Four on 400: January Feedback

Thank you to all the brave souls who entered this month’s Four on 400 contest! Sharing your writing takes courage, and we appreciate your enthusiasm for our contest.

Below, we’ve posted the first 400 words from this month’s winner, along with feedback from at least four of our members. We also encourage our readers to share their (constructive) suggestions and encouragement in the comments section below.

AMBASSADOR OF ATTALON (MG fantasy)

Clarine Hearthsgaard was going to be sick.

She glanced about, wondering if anyone felt as nervous as she did. At least one hundred other applicants, all twelve years old, stood around her. The day was clear and warm, as were most days of High Summer in the Kingdom of Attalon, but Clarine could not enjoy it. Instead of spending her free time swimming in the lake or running through the narrow streets of Glenarm village with her best friends, Lucas and Branwyn, she was here.

Competing to be a Knight.

She must have lost her mind. She was of average height and average hair and average face. Maybe the Tournament judges would be more impressed if she were taller or richer or fiercer. More knightly.

Sweat made the collar of her linen shirt scratchy. The crowd around her shifted and mumbled. Something was happening. Clarine tried to peek around the people in front of her, but she wasn’t tall enough.

“Welcome, hopeful students,” boomed a deep voice. Clarine managed to catch a glimpse of the speaker—a knight dressed in full armour minus his helm, despite the heat. Even from near the back of the group, Clarine could tell the man was huge, the bulk of his armour looked like a piece of the Mordrin Mountains had broken off and learned to talk.

“I am Knight Stoutthelm. Welcome to the official audition for the prestigious Knight Academy of Attalon. The Squireling Tournament. We have well over one hundred applicants here, but only thirty available places to be won. The bravest, cleverest, and most skilled applicants will be successful and be granted the chance to serve his Magesty, King Percival, as a Knight of the Realm. And that’s if you survive your schooling!”

The assembled crowd of parents and well-wishers tittered amiably, but no one around Clarine made a sound. She took a deep breath to calm herself, and her stomach lurched again. She hoped her didn’t make a fool of herself in front of her father.

Another knight swept towards Stoutthelm and handed him a scroll. “Applicants will be divided into pairs. For the next two days, you will compete with and against your partner. Scores are tallied individually, based on a combination of points earned during your performances and the judges’ observations during the tasks.”

Stouthelm paused before reading the names. “Remember, Applicants. Be brave. Be clever. Be Knights.”

Gabrielle Byrne:  I think you’ve got a good start here. I’d focus on slowing it WAY down. You’ve got a lot of plot crammed into the first page, and not a lot of description, or character building. Take time to introduce us to Clarine. For example, maybe she’s talking to the next person in line behind her, who won’t stop muttering about the scuffs on their shoes. Maybe she comforts them, or tells them to shut up, or ignores them. Whatever she does, will inform us about who she is. I’d incorporate some more setting into her actions too.  Spin the scene out over the first five pages or so, and let us get to know her. You did a good job incorporating some world building into your descriptions with “the bulk of his armour looked like a piece of the Mordrin Mountains had broken off and learned to talk.”  Nice work.

Sussu: Thank you for trusting us with your story. I enjoyed reading this. I found the story charming and paced nicely.

Nice first line and setting. I only suggest mentioning the courtyard and the parents earlier because it’s hard to figure out where they are and why the parents are there.

Details could give the reader a precise picture that stays long with them. “The day was clear and warm” is good, but consider, “The heat tickled her neck. The sun set her dark hair ablaze.” “He was a foot taller than the students,” etc

“She must have lost her mind” could be stronger with an action. Nice to have some kind of inner conflict to drive the story. Add more details, like “She couldn’t hurt a fly” or “she was a scrawny as a cricket.” This makes the MC stand out and gives us more clues.

I love the voice and the atmosphere of the story. This sounds unique and fun. Good luck!

Jessica: What a fun premise! Your first line really drew me in. Another line I loved: Sweat made the collar of her linen shirt scratchy. Right away, I knew exactly what she was feeling. By way of suggestions, I’d encourage you to bring this same level of detail to the first full paragraph. “Glanced about” and “anyone” were too vague to pull me in; I think there’s real opportunity here to pull us in with specifics. Similarly, I found “swimming in the lake” and “running through the streets” to be disappointingly vague (although the “narrow” streets did help). How does the water feel when she plunges in? Is there a certain shop she loves to run by because of the smell? Or because they hand out free samples? We can learn a lot about her by how she sees and thinks about her world. I think Gabrielle’s suggestion to slow down and not try to fit quite so much information into the opening is a great one, but overall you seem to be on the right track. Nicely done!

Julie: I LOVE this concept. But the title is a bit dry for such a great story. You’ve got some great world-building details in here (the Squireling Tournament, etc.) but I also think you’re starting with too much summary. Focus on the moment Clarine knows everything in her world is about to change and start there. Maybe she’s paired with her worst enemy (or her crush!) and that’s what makes her feel nauseated. Then you can sprinkle in some of these details, but focus on building her character–what she wants, what she’s afraid of–and tell us the details like that there are only 30 spots available and what she likes to do in her free time later. You’ve got a great knack for description like the scratchy shirt and armor looking “like a piece of the Mordrin Mountains had broken off and learned to talk,” so if you can make the rest of it that vivid, you’ll be set!

 

8 on Eight October Contest Window is now open!

eight on eight 2Fellow writers! The 8 on Eight contest window is OPEN!fireworks-1759_640

 

Q: I must have missed the announcement. What is 8 on Eight? 

A monthly contest that provides one lucky kidlit writer with feedback on their opening eight lines! As part of our ongoing mission to support writers, we’ll give a PB, CB, MG, or YA writer feedback on their work from at least 8 of The Winged Pen’s contributors.

Q: Sounds exciting! How do I enter?

To enter, simply comment at the bottom of this post! At 8pm (EST) on the first day of October, one winner will be randomly drawn from the Triwizard Cup. The winner will be notified and given 24 hours to submit his or her opening eight lines. On the eighth of the month, the winner’s eight lines, along with the title and genre of the work, will be posted to our blog with feedback from at least 8 of our members. Still have questions? See our 8 on Eight page for additional details.

Remember, the contest window is only open until 8pm EST on October 1st, so don’t wait––enter now!

Best of luck! (And please help spread the word!)

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8 on Eight: September Contest Feedback

eight on eight 2

Thank you to all the brave souls who entered this month’s 8 on Eight contest! Sharing your writing takes courage, and we appreciate your enthusiasm for our contest.

If your name wasn’t drawn from the Triwizard cup this time around, keep an eye out for when our next contest window opens at 8 PM on September 30th. Below, we’ve posted the first 8 lines from this month’s winner, along with feedback from at least eight of our members. We also encourage our readers to share their (constructive) suggestions and encouragement in the comments section below.

One Two Green – Picture Book

The animals are all hiding at our favourite zoo.
Where can they be? Mr Monkey – I see blue!

The meerkats are cheeky; trying their best not to be seen.
But we’ve spotted a few. There’s one… two… green.

I pink I saw a pelican paddling on the lake
And look! A purple popped his head up like a snake.

Yellow there Mrs Zebra! You’re a little bright my dear.
Look out Mr Giraffe! We’re all the way brown here.

Jessica: This is the type of story that is fun to snuggle up and read with a toddler. But the rhythms don’t feel consistent and I can’t quite put my finger on the connection between the specific animals and the colors mentioned with them. And then the numbers in the title make me think there’s a third connection between animals, numbers, and colors that I’m missing (and need to understand to fully engage with the story). Hope this feedback helps–thanks for sharing!

Gita: Thanks for sharing this story with us! Toddlers love zoos and they love to look for animals (or people, or objects) described in a book, so you’ve got some thematic connections to your listeners right off the bat. Because there are quite a few zoo-visit picture books, you might want to consider how you would pitch your version. That is, what unique take on the zoo-visit story are you offering? Good luck with your revisions and happy writing!

Michelle: This looks like it has the potential to be a cute concept book with fun rhymes. If this is a concept book, I think you should give some thought to what concept you want to demonstrate. If you’ve chosen colors, numbers, and animals, I think stepping back and working on how these concepts interrelate will help you find a way to help your preschool readers make important connections that will help them understand our world. That being said, doing so with three concepts will be a bit tricky. Here’s an article that may be useful: Concept Books for Young Children. Best of luck and please keep in touch with us!

Kristi: I’m a sucker for a great PB and I can already imagine some of the illustrations in this. I think my BIGGEST comment is going to be on rhyme. If you’re going to do it, you have to be a master. Here’s an excellent blog post by Josh Funk (whose books you should definitely check out– he does rhyme like Dr. Seuss himself!): here and here. The place it stuck out to me the most is: And look! A purple popped his head up like a snake. I get it, you want to keep the meter, but then you sacrifice the style and it makes it sound very amateur. I DO however LOOOOOVE it how you’ve used “yellow”, “pink” and “brown” as other words. That is outstanding! Again, though, those words sound like the words you’re trying to say, so There’s one… two… green feels off to me. Bottom line, keep it consistent.

Karin:  What a colorful idea for a picture book! Your idea to pun on the colors will, I am sure, delight readers. I like how you use colors as verbs and nouns with the animals, but not sure it works when you replace the animal with a color as in “purple” for “turtle.” Your sentences are dynamic and snappy but your meter is not consistent. Rhyme isn’t just about rhyming the end word, it’s about the rhythm or beat of each line. For more on this check out Dori Chaconas’ wonderful post entitled Icing on the Cake: Writing in Rhyme and Rhythm. Good luck!

Halli: Thanks for sharing your writing with us. I like to see books about animals because boys and girls love them. As for the story itself, I do think you have a lot going on. Animals, colors, and numbers. They do not seem to be used consistently, which may confuse the reader as to the true story you are trying to tell. I would suggest choosing two of the three and basing your story on those. Hope our feedback helps!

Katharine: I love wordplay and picture books, so this one is really fun for me. I am crazy for the line “I pink I saw a pelican…”! I would encourage you to go even further with silly lines like that (and “Yellow there, Mrs. Zebra!” So good!), and to do it consistently throughout. Consider dropping the rhyme. I don’t think you need it, and focusing on the puns with the color is enough work (and fun!). Without the rhyme, you can more easily explain the game, which I am guessing is a spot the animal picture, with the relevant animal in the color you mention. Such a great concept. Of your puns, I didn’t think “green” worked well for “three” (so I would also suggest trying to find a different title) and I wasn’t sure what “purple” was supposed to be. The others I was able to figure out, and the illustrations will help. Best of luck with this one, and thanks for sharing!

Richelle: Thanks for sharing! I am a novice PB writer, but I do have a couple of thoughts for you. I agree with my fellow Pennies — your wordplay is super cute! (Like Katharine, I LOVED “Yellow there, Mrs. Zebra!”) In those spots, I can really visualize what might be happening on the page. I also agree that there may be too many concepts. In the first eight lines, I feel like we should have a strong sense of what your book is (i.e./a color concept book, a find-the-hidden-picture book, an animal book, a counting book), and right now, I’m not sure which of those concepts you’re going for. I did take a PB seminar at the SCBWI Oregon Conference, and one of the tips I gleaned from that was to make a dummy, complete with your own stick-figure drawings. When I did that for my WIP, I was able to see much more clearly how the story should unfold. You might try that and see how it shapes up. Good luck!

Sussu: Thank you for sharing this amazing story.

After I read this story, at first, I thought well, someone got carried away.       The first thing I noticed was what I thought was a spelling mistake, “I pink” for “I think”. The fact that the story plays with the alliterations made me reconsider. I took a step back, and after a second look, I laughed. I believe the kids will do the same and will want to come back to the PB to catch all the little details they missed. I love especially this part, “I pink I saw a pelican paddling on the lake.” AndYellow there Mrs Zebra!” for “hello there!”  And “purple” for “turtle.”

At first, I didn’t know what you were doing with a blue monkey, a cheeky meerkat, a pelican paddling, a purple popping its head, a bright zebra. What? But it’s just irresistible. It’s nonsensical. I can already see the kids looking at the pictures in shock, then paying more attention to the words, and finally decide that this PB is just silly but so interesting. Wait for giggles and good hearty laughs. Wait for them to create nonsensical words too. It’s so important to sensibilize little kids to words and the language.

That’s exactly what you want to do with a PB, make the kids react and laugh. And think, think, think! I believe this work is brilliant! Thanks for sharing and surprise me. I’m glad you entered the bot.

 

  

 

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