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FAQ: Writing Tips

I am an aspiring writer/editor. Could you give me some tips for getting started?

I'm glad that you are interested in a career in writing. If you click on "More Letters from Ann" at the bottom of the current Ann Online entry, it will take you to many of the previous letters I've written. I think you'll find "Ann's Top Ten Writing Tips" very useful. Here's a shortcut that will get you there faster: http://www.scholastic.com/annmartin/letters/2001-05.htm. Good luck with your writing!


Do you prefer to write alone or with another author?

I enjoy both for different reasons. It's a challenge to write alone because everything is up to me. It's also very exciting to work with another author. I would never have been able to write The Doll People books or the books I worked on with Paula Danziger if I'd been on my own. With another author, it's fun to work off each other's ideas and to take more risks.


Can you read my manuscript?

Unfortunately, my writing schedule keeps me too busy to do this for my readers, but I think it's a great idea to have someone critique your work. One idea would be to ask a favorite English teacher, a parent, or a good friend to read what you have written and offer any suggestions.


How can I get my writing published?

You might want to do some research to learn which magazines publish submissions from children. One example is Stone Soup which publishes stories, art, and poetry submitted by children. Good luck!


Do you write your manuscripts in longhand or on the computer?

For the most part, I use the computer, but I do take notes and edit my work in longhand.


Do you outline your stories first?

Yes, I extensively outline all my stories on a chapter-by-chapter basis.


Where do you get your ideas?

I get the ideas from my books from many different places. Some are based on personal experiences; others are based on childhood memories and feelings. Many are written about contemporary problems or events.


Are your characters based on real people?

All of my characters are made up, but many of them are based on real people.


How long does it take you to write a book?

This can certainly vary. For example, the first Doll People book took over four years to write. However, the average length of time is about one year.


Can you dedicate a book to me?

I would never be able to write enough books to dedicate one to every one of my readers! Instead, I usually dedicate a book to a relative or close friend. For example, A Dog's Life is dedicated to my nephew, Henry. He loves dogs, so this will be his special book.


How do you pick your character's names?

Sometimes I name my characters after people I know; other times I just choose names I like.


Can we be pen pals?

I wish I could be pen pals with all of my readers, but then I would never have time to write books!

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