An Editor’s Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing
Books for Children and Young Adults
Whether you dream of writing a book for children or young adults, or you want to take a finished manuscript to the next level, it always helps to get a fresh point of view. Try a little Second Sight.
In this collection of talks, a professional editor offers insights from the other side of the publishing desk on a wide range of writerly topics:
+ Terrific first lines and how they got that way
+ What makes a strong picture book manuscript
+ Why the Harry Potter series was such a tremendous success
+ Worksheets and checklists for building characters and bolstering plot
+ Finding the emotional heart of your story
+ The Annotated Query Letter from Hell
+ And an Annotated Query Letter That Does It Right
With its wit, intelligence, and practical tools for analyzing and revising your work, Second Sight will be a first resource for writers of children’s and young adult fiction.
This book has not been endorsed or approved by J. K. Rowling or any of her publishers or representatives, and all thoughts expressedÂ here on all matters, including the Harry Potter series, are solely myÂ own, and should not be taken as the official opinions, intentions, orÂ interpretations of any of the writers or publishers mentioned.
An Explanation of This Book (the Introduction)
The Second Sight Facebook Page, with tidbits and updates
- Der Buchwald: “Itâ€™s the single most practical writing book Iâ€™ve read. . . . Itâ€™s full of practical suggestions for deep revision, for finding those â€śelectric fence emotionsâ€ť (as she describes the raw feelings of middle school) and pulling them forward to connect with readers in a real, believable way. . . . If you are most concerned with getting the emotional heart of a book right, whether serious or funny or whatever, this is the book for you.”
- The Purple Crayon (Harold Underdown, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books): “If you are interested in getting some insight into the editorial process, or in musing over the requirements for good fiction, or in learning some practical revision techniques, or in finding out what the couch an editor’s apartment looks like, this is the book for you.”
- Resources for Revision: “She discusses both picture books and novels, with in-depth analyses of the Harry Potter series, The Hunger Games, and a couple of humorous novels by Lisa Yee. It’s like looking over her shoulder while she works! . . . It’s worth taking your time over each essay, letting it sink in and trying some of her techniques. This is one of the few writing books that seems to target intermediate and advanced writers far more than beginners. You’ll return to this one again and again.”
- The King of Elfland’s Second Cousin: “. . . Challenging, insightful, and professional in all the right ways. This is a book for people seriously interested in writing as both a craft and a career . . . Iâ€™ve found that I would read a chapter or two, put it aside, and then return to it repeatedly when running into tough spots in my own writing. And that is its primary value: as a helpful tool for the dedicated writer struggling with the minutia of craft.”
- Book Aunt: “Cheryl Klein has given an awful lot of thought to what makes children’s books tick, and she shares her insights in a way I found intriguing. . . . Second Sight is not a fluffy book, it’s a thoughtful one, best suited for people who are serious about writing for children and teens.”
- First Novels Club: “It’s an excellent blend of philosophy and technique. Klein first explains why and how something works (such as voice or plot/character development), then offers concrete advice or worksheets on how to make it shine in your WIP. . . . Reading it revitalized my progress on my current WIP; specifically, it made me realize I’d begun to stray from the heart of the story and needed to refocus. I can honestly say that the book lives up to its title: I gained a new perspective on the elements that make a strong novel, and my writing (and especially my revision techniques) are better for it.”
- Kip Wilson Rachea: “For me, reading SECOND SIGHT was like . . . having a great critique partner or teacherâ€“and not just anyone, but the well-known editor Cheryl Kleinâ€“in the room with me as she walked me through examples by authors whose work I admire, showing me what I needed to look for in my own work. From the macro to the micro, this book spoke to me about where to focus my revision.”
- Shannon and the Sunshine Band:Â “Reasons to Read Second Sight: 1. It will improve your work-in-progress. . . . 3. It will make you a better reviser. . . . 5. It will make you laugh!”
- The Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood (includes an exclusive excerpt of the “Quartet: Plot” essay)
- Literary Rambles
- From the Mixed-Up Files of Jenn Bertman — a peek into my creative process and creative space, complete with pictures of the beloved paisley sofa described on p. 250-251 of Second Sight
- Publishers Weekly Children’s Bookshelf
- The Happy Accident — a discussion of the fundraising and social media strategies that went into my publishing the book
- Market My Words, Part I and Part II — with an alternate title and thoughts on the biggest problems I often see in plotting and voice
- Pottercast (MP3)
For comments, questions, or other information about this book (and only about this book), please contact me at Asterisk Books.