Emily Andrews. Overwhelming Books. Grade 12, Age 17. 2011 Silver Medal, Photography Portfolio.

Linda Asked:

You wrote and published your first book when you were a teen. Would you say it was easier in that time vs today for teen writers/everyone to sell, or is the (book) recession only a figment of our creative imaginations?

Ned Answered:

My mother used to tell me, “Every business is a hard business.” If you meet a writer, the writer will often say, “Writing is really hard. It’s impossible to make a living. Books are dead.”

But if you meet a model, the model will often say, “Modeling is really hard. You really have to hustle. And once you turn twenty, you’re done!”

It doesn’t do you any good to listen to these lines of argument. Of course writing is hard. It’s supposed to be. It’s a job.

Now, there are scary statistics. Read More

Nicole Valmana. Smile for the Rhino. Grade 8, Age 14. 2012 Silver Medal, Drawing.

There is a lot of confusion about image resolution — what is DPI? What is PPI? How do you calculate them and why do they matter?

Here’s a case-study:
Let’s say you want to print a digital image to a size 4×6 inches. What should be the dimensions for your digital image?

The first thing to know is that 300 DPI (dots-per-inch), is the standard “print-quality” resolution: let’s work backwards from there. Read More

Photo credit: www.thehumorcolumnist.com

In 1997, the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards asked a few eminent, creative Americans to write encouraging letters to students like you: their younger selves. One Pulitzer-Prize winning humorist, Art Buchwald, kindly responded.  We hope he inspires you to Start.Write.Now!

Read More

Caridad Svich was a National Juror for the Dramatic Script category during the 2012 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Check out what she has to say about what inspires her as a playwright. We hope her words will encourage you to stay creative this summer and START.WRITE.NOW!

As a playwright, songwriter, editor and translator living between many cultures, including inherited ones, the idea of departure has always been not only an actual or metaphorical basis for writing the work, but also an idea made manifest through the enactment of writing, its performance, and my living of it. Read More

Annelies Cowan. Letter of a Fallen Female War Hero. Grade 11, Age 16. 2012 Silver Medal, Mixed Media.

Zara Asked:

Do you have any advice for a young aspiring author who is looking at agents and publishing houses to query. How can I narrow down the search and what makes a good query letter? Thanks!

Ned Answered:

Zara, If you’re looking for agents and publishers, get Writer’s Market. It’s a book — I suppose you could get an e-version but it’s the sort of book you want to circle things in and write notes in — that lists all of the agents and publishers in the business. From small independent houses to big-name representatives, if they work in books, they’re in Writer’s Market.

Remember when you use Writer’s Market to be targeted. Specificity is important in publishing. Read More

DJ Cleavinger. Multiple Personalities. Grade 7, Age 12. 2012 Gold Medal, Mixed Media.

Sarah Asks:

Dear Ned,

Do you ever have a problem with rediscovering your character’s voice after taking a break from a piece of work and then picking it back up again later? It’s not the same and I don’t really know why. It’s the same character and the same events are occurring, but when people read it they notice a difference that I didn’t pick up on while writing. Does it just take practice or is it like losing your own voice? What I mean is will it come back with time or do you just need to keep rewriting until you find it again?

Ned Responds:


I hate to be the bearer of bad news but if you are writing a book, and you take a break from it, and you come back, and the characters don’t make sense, you have a deep character issue in the book and it may be fatal. Read More