Archive for August, 2007

Writing for children: Picture books

Who are picture books for? In Britain, North America and Australasia, books with pictures are still largely for children. In the Far East where ‘comics’ are for adults as well as children, the graphic novel is a respectable art form. Thankfully, Western readers and publishers are finally coming around to see the value of illustrated stories for adults and the graphic novel is taking on a more literary slant. For an excellent discussion of this read Sunday Times Online. But as this is a series on writing for children, we will focus on what are commonly known as ‘picture books’. Continue reading ‘Writing for children: Picture books’

Writing for children: mysteries and thrillers

Mysteries and thrillers are always popular reads. Like any writing for children and young people, the content of these books will vary across the age groups. However, there are certain mystery and thriller conventions that will help you write a compelling story. Continue reading ‘Writing for children: mysteries and thrillers’

Protecting your copyright

A couple of years ago I had one bad month with two copyright infringements in a row. The first came with the morning post. It was a corporate brochure for a holiday company I had recently done an article on for a women’s magazine. I paged through the brochure, wondering if I’d ever be able to pay to go on one of their weekend getaways, when something very familiar jumped out at me. It was my article, word for word, picture for picture, as it had appeared in the magazine. I couldn’t believe it. Continue reading ‘Protecting your copyright’

The basics of feature writing 1

Following on from How to get started in feature writing The Crafty Writer would like to introduce you to the basics of writing for magazines and newspaper supplements. In the previous article I stressed that you should get yourself some training then work on building up a small portfolio of work by doing freebies for charities or student publications. Once you’ve done that, you can approach an editor and hopefully get your first paying commission. Continue reading ‘The basics of feature writing 1’

What makes a good children’s book?

I was recently asked ‘what makes a good children’s book’? My answer was it’s the same combination of factors that make any good book – is it original, well written and with the intended reader in mind? Of course, unlike adult books, you also have to consider the illustrations, but if children’s books are going to fail it is more likely on the words than the pictures. As a mother I’ve read far too many beautifully illustrated books to my daughter that I’ve had to put in my own words because the existing text doesn’t do the job properly. It’s a scandal. With that rant over, let’s look at some factors that adults should look for when buying a book for a child. Continue reading ‘What makes a good children’s book?’

Writing for children: sex, love and romance

He slipped his hand under her shirt and fumbled with her bra clip. She held her breath in anticipation, but after nearly 60 seconds of oxygen deprivation, forcefully exhaled: “For pete’s sake get on with it!”

But should we, as adult writers of books for children and young people, be ‘getting on with it’? How far is too far? Do we have to include sex, love and romance in our storylines? Continue reading ‘Writing for children: sex, love and romance’

Getting started in playwrighting

Most of my articles are written with years of experience behind me. But this is an exception. Only a year ago, I decided to start writing again for the theatre. As a fresh-faced, cellulite-free twentysomething, I wrote for an amateur theatre company in South Africa called Mirror Image. Now, ten years later and living in the UK I thought I would try going professional. Continue reading ‘Getting started in playwrighting’

What to do when you don’t get paid

Ask any freelance and they’ll tell you one of their biggest worries is payment: when they’ll get paid, how much they’ll get paid, if they’ll get paid. When I first tried freelance work after being a staffer, I soon discovered I had to become a hard-nosed businesswoman as well as a top-class journo. For some, this comes more naturally than others. Continue reading ‘What to do when you don’t get paid’

How to get started in feature writing

I’m often asked: ‘Can anyone learn how to write a feature article?’ I usually answer with another question: ‘Can anyone learn gardening?” The answer to both questions is ‘yes’ and ‘no’. To be a gardener you don’t need a degree in horticulture – particularly if you just want to potter around in the back yard. But if you want to sell your services to lazy neighbours it would help your credibility if you had

  1. completed a course in gardening; or
  2. had years of experience and references.

For most prospective employers, 2) would be more important than 1), but in order to get to 2) it might help to first go through 1).

Continue reading ‘How to get started in feature writing’

Welcome to The Crafty Writer

Welcome to The Crafty Writer. I assume that as you’re visiting this site, you are a writer or someone who is interested in writing. Then you’re in the right place (unfortunately that domain name was already taken!). My name is Fiona Veitch Smith and I am a professional writer and writing tutor who started sharing thoughts on the craft and business of writing on my other website But as that site was also full of articles I had written on other subjects, from lifestyle to spirituality, some users asked me to put all my writing articles and advice on a separate site just for them. And so The Crafty Writer was born. Continue reading ‘Welcome to The Crafty Writer’