Thursday, April 26, 2012

W is for the W's

W is for the W's. Today, author Debbie LaCroix is joining us to talk about the W's. Julie, once again, has out done herself with her wickedly wicked illustration. Thanks Debbie and Julie!

I met Debbie through the 12x12in12 challenge (a picture book challenge hosted by Julie Hedlund). I also had the pleasure of following Debbie, as she won round after round in Ed DeCaria's March Madness, 2012 poetry competition, in which Debbie won second place. Congrats Debbie! Now on to the W's!

Illustration by Julie Rowan-Zoch

Do you know your W’s. W’s hold your creativity together like glue. Without them, your poem or story will fall apart.

What are your W’s?
W: Who
W: What
W: When
W: Where
W: Why
And most important…………………

W: Write

A wise teacher told me the W’s lead you to the basics for your story.  To write a good story, you need to know:

Who your characters are.
Your main character is very important. You need to know them inside and out, and you need to know their voice. Make sure you interview them to know more about this character. But you also need to know the other characters in your story. If they are involved, they need to have a purpose.

What they are doing.
What are your characters trying to accomplish in your poem or story. If you are not writing about characters, what is the moral of the poem, or what imagery do you want to construe to your audience.

When the story takes place (today, past, future).
When does your story take place? You need to if it’s set in the future, today, past or a made up time. All elements of your story or poem need to match. For example, you can’t be writing about the 1800’s and have the young princess get a phone call.

Where is the setting.
Where are your main characters? Is the setting here, there, or nowhere? Where are they travelling to?

Why is the character doing that.
Why is your character acting in such a way that could get him run over by a car? Why is he jumping into a freezing river?  What is his or her motivation. Why is the bird flying backwards? When stuck with writing, ask yourself, “why?” If you don’t know, take a moment to figure it out.

Once you have all the above, then it’s time to write.It doesn’t matter if you have your W’s, if you don’t do this. So the most important W, is Write! Write! Write! But “W” goes even deeper than the basics. Let’s take a closer look:

Who are you writing for?
You need to know your audience. If you are writing for children, you will want to leave out any inappropriate language, imagery, or topics they would not care to learn about. Writing about Wall Street would not be a great poem for 2nd graders, unless it was about a street surrounded by a wall.

During March Madness, poetry competition (, I was given seed words that I had to incorporate into my poems for children. Often my motivation on how to use this word would dictate who I was writing for. My use of Jerky gave me a poem about learning to drive, which is an older audience then Pummeled, which was about stuffing toys into a closet. 

What are you writing?
Not only what is your story about, but what are you writing? What type of poem or story are you working on? Do you want it to rhyme? Is it a sonnet? What is your pattern and rhythm?

What do you want to accomplish with this poem? Is it for fun? To teach a life lesson? To win an award? 
Know your WHAT.

When is your deadline?
This can be a deadline for a contest, or a self-imposed deadline. But you need to know when you will finish it by. For projects without a deadline, be realistic and break it down into smaller goals. Write your date down so you hold yourself accountable for finishing.

Where do you write? 
Do you have a writing center? I often get asked (especially by my children’s friends who come over for the first time), where do you write? Create a space where you can enter your mind comfortably and get it all down.

Why are you writing this story or poem? 
What is your inspiration? Why do you want to put this on paper? Your why is your internal motivation. Without it, you have no reason to write.

--Using today's prompt "wicked" write a poem using the W's. Or
--Write a W poem on a topic of your choosing. 

--5 W's Poem. Click here to get a worksheet and to see an example. 
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Do you want to catch up or re-visit earlier poetry posts? Here are the most recent poetry posts:

Debbie is the author of "It's Almost Time" by Kane Miller. When not writing, she sells kids books and volunteers in her community. She is the mom to two boys, two cats, a dog, and three hermit crabs. 

To learn more about Debbie head over to her site @

Julie Rowan-Zoch graphic designer morphed by motherhood into super-volunteer, spun into a pre-pubbie cocoon, soon to emerge writer and illustrator of children’s books! To learn more about Julie check out her fabulous blog by clicking here or find her on Facebook by clicking here


  1. Thank you Debbie and Rena for the lesson on W's.
    I was able to read a few of Debbie's impressive poems for that contest and was very inspired (but also intimidated) to try out this challenge.

    Julie, your "Wicked" piece is fantastic!

    1. I used Julie's illustration to write one:

      An aristocrat
      Concealed his rat
      In the morning to buy quiche
      Tucked him snug in his hat
      For it's taboo to walk him with a leash.

    2. Haha. I love this. I can see this man walking down the streets of London with this rat tail poking out.

    3. Also you did a wonderful job of answering the W's!

    4. Great poem!
      Glad you enjoyed March Madness. It was a great test for me. :-)

  2. Thanks Rena and Debbie. This reminds me of the 4 P's from marketing. Debbie you did an amazing job in March Madness, it really was madness, well done! And Julie, that illo is awesome, my fave so far.

  3. Great W's! I needed this lesson when I wrote my Nature poem, Rena...tee hee. Makes me want a do over. Great advice, Debbie! Your work in the March Madness contest was terrific! I hope you participate next year. Another great interview, Rena. Julie, I thought I recognized those eyes. Those are the vampire bunny's eyes!

    1. You can always rewrite your nature poem. :) I've been rewriting some of my poems.

    2. Hope the W's help you in future poems. :-D Thanks for your compliment. It was a blast.

  4. Trickery

    Black hat
    Mute growl
    Thinly veiled scowl
    Landlord has come to evict (it's not due)

    Note signed:
    "Minister's daughter!"
    "His motives aren't hard to predict!" (what to do)

    Sinister weevil
    She's placed on the train track and tied

    "Surrender!" He grinned.
    "But first, you must become my bride!"

    White gown
    Pale face
    Thinly veil lace
    Landlord purses lips, then they're licked. (I do)

    Then shock
    Wi-i-ining disguise
    Landlord then discovers he's tricked ("Not you!")

    "Your specs, sir?"
    "Offend, sir!"
    "but look how it's penned, sir."
    Landlord reads the note, yet again.

    To his horrored chagrin
    He read "r," not an "n."
    Signed not by Martyr but Martyn-n-n!

    1. Haha. I like the bits in the brackets. Your poem is pleasing to the eye and the ear and made me laugh!

    2. Oh, thanks for that, Rena!

  5. Very, very nice, Pam. I love the story. It's so creative and has a fun twist.

  6. I'm just making it over here for comments...busy day!!! Thanks, Debbie for all your thoughts. You did so well in the March Madness (congrats:-) that it is nice to hear from you. Thanks!!!
    Here is my post...Thanks for the inspiration Julie & Rena!

    1. Thanks Penny. March Madness was so much fun.

  7. Wonderful words of wisdom, Debbie - thanks! Here's a link to my 'W' poem:

  8. Great W post. I think the why gets lost sometimes with all the chatter going on in the internet. Thanks ladies.

  9. Thanks for the great interview Rena and Debbie! I am playing catch-up today and just about to hit up a very WICKED poem! ;)


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