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  • Writer's pictureS.E. Reed

Writing Something Magical

There is something magical about writing a story for children. As I write, I imagine the joy they will experience when my words dance across the page and skip gleefully into their minds.

Right after the new year I started working on a short story called Yellow, Follow the Brick Road, off and on– a few sentences at a time. A scene would flash in my brain and I’d jot it down, unsure if it was the making of a feature length Middle Grades Fantasy book or a #shortstory I might submit for publication somewhere. But, then, after writing Have a Blessed Day Sweetheart about a transgender 6th grader named Iris, something magical spoke inside of me. It was the rest of Yellow’s story.

I spent several days & nights writing like a madwoman, unsure of where this story would find a home, but very certain it was something special. That’s when I saw a Twitter posting looking for fantasy stories for a magical anthology geared towards the #MG age group. Yellow, Follow the Brick Road felt like a perfect fit, so I decided to reach out to the author of the post. I pitched my story in a few sentences and was told she’d get back to me.

My heart was racing! As you can imagine.

Within a day, the full story had been requested and a few days after that I received the email every writer wants to find in their in-box. “You’ve been selected for PUBLICATION!” Relief and validation washed over me. My fantasy story was good enough to stand alongside some extremely talented authors in the #MG Fantasy category. It was an honor and I can’t wait for everyone to get a copy of the finished book, Calliope’s Collection of Mystical Mayhem, Volume 1.

To celebrate the launch of the book, I’m sharing my Magic Formula for writing short stories kids (and adults) will want to read over and over.

1. Make your reader feel something as quickly as possible.

It can be anything! Love, anger, hope, excitement, awkward, scared… Whatever it is, just slam it in those first few paragraphs. This is what hooks them!

2. Even short stories need a beginning, middle and end.

Most advice says start as close to the end as possible in short stories. I disagree with this, I think an artfully told short story has a beginning that hooks, a middle that sings, and an ending that leaves you feeling ahhhh.

3. Less is actually more, let the reader use their imagination to fill in the blanks.

When writing fantasy it can be tempting to do some serious world building, but that eats up page space. I like to build the world in my head and tell the story on the page, the world ends up weaving its way in naturally.

4. Don’t forget the dialogue! It will speak volumes by adding character depth.

Rather than wasting precious word count by setting up scenes, your characters can talk about where they are and what they are doing as part of their natural conversation.


S.E. Reed

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