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Second Sight: An Editor's Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults

4.53  ·  Rating details ·  359 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
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 ho

Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 9th 2011 by Asterisk Books
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Cheryl Klein
Feb 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Recommends it for: People who like thinking about the theory & techniques of writing for children & young adults
I wrote this, I'm proud of it, and I'm going to give it five stars, just because I can.
K.M. Weiland
Nov 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
I found this book to be a little bit of a mixed bag.

On the good side:

It's absolutely chock full of stellar advice. Klein brings an obvious wealth of experience to the table and she shares in gems of solid detail, instead of the often useless generalities found in similar books. Almost everything she has to say is of worth to writers of all stripes, not just YA writers.

On the bad side:

I found myself continually frustrated by the lack of organization in the presentation of the material. The chapte
Hannah Greendale
Aug 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Second Sight is an instructive collection of blog posts and speeches given by editor Cheryl Klein at writer's conferences. The book offers helpful examples and contains several writing exercises. What sets this book apart from other writing guides is Klein's experience working as a continuity editor on the American editions of the sixth and seventh Harry Potter books; she often discusses J.K. Rowling's narrative style and examines the HP books in order to teach successful storytelling.
Aug 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes it seems like I've read the entire internet on my quest for knowledge about writing. I should have just read Cheryl Klein's book. Second Sight tells you all the things--all of them! This book is a must-have for any writer who is working on their craft, and there are three distinct reasons why. Please note, I'm making a list here because compulsive organizing is something Ms. Klein and I have in common:

1. Concrete examples from real life. Too often, I read articles or even full-length t
Mar 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing-advice
Cheryl Klein is one of the editors at Arthur A. Levine books (famous for taking on Harry Potter when nobody wanted it). I've read my share of books on writing and editing and this one struck a chord with me. Don't know if it is because of the plain, easy to understand language, the great examples of working and polishing a first draft to a final one, or the amount of knowledge this lady has. For example, the issue of Voice. Most agents/editors describe it as "something they are looking for, can' ...more
Mar 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
UPDATE: I have it now, I love it, it is what I said it would be, and you should get it right now! There. :)


I admit that I have not yet read this book IN AND OF ITSELF. But Cheryl is one of my best friends, and I have been reading her writing for years, and have been party to the very wonderfully painstaking work she put into the production of this book. It only takes knowing Cheryl to know that this is something that does exactly what it claims to do, that it has true value, that it is worth
Feb 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
For writers who really want to understand how stories work and how they can make theirs better, this book is an essential resource. It's a deeply intellectual analysis of many key aspects of fiction, and it's also a practical guide, offering tools such as checklists and spreadsheets you can use to structure your revision approach.

I'm planning to use it in a class I am teaching at the University of Washington this spring and am confident my students will benefit enormously.
Rebecca Sutton
Jul 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
SECOND SIGHT is a must read for all writers. I highly recommend this book! I've already found Cheryl's tips and insight a huge help in my current round of revisions. Just be sure to have a highlighter ready. You'll want to make notes on every page!
Chris King Elfland's 2nd Cousin
May 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Writers
NOTE: This review was originally posted at The King of Elfland's 2nd Cousin on March 8th, 2011. If you enjoy it, check out my other reviews there!

Several years ago, The Professor (my fiancée) introduced me to children’s book editor Cheryl B. Klein’s blog, where I discovered several years’ worth of thoughtful, analytical, and insightful talks she has given on the craft of writing and its intersection with the craft of editing. Having found her thoughts interesting, I was excited to learn that Kle
Jody Sparks
May 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
By far the most helpful writing book I've read.I loved this book!
Kimberly Sabatini
Apr 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: craft-of-writing
If you need to revise your writing, you do not want to miss this book. It's inspirational, educational and entertaining. A wonderful read that will make you a better writer. <3
Dec 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was so helpful! I now have a clearer idea about what publishing houses do and what agents are looking for. This book is invaluable to hopeful authors.
First Novels Club
Apr 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: donna, reviewed
All you need to do is look at the Table of Contents of SECOND SIGHT: AN EDITOR'S TALKS ON WRITING, REVISING, AND PUBLISHING BOOKS FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG ADULTS to know it's a worthy purchase. For months now, I've been saying to my FNC ladies that I craved some upper-level writing advice -- like a Master's class instead of a Writing 101. (As if I consider myself a writing Master, ha!)

If you've already learned the basics (and then some) of writing philosophy and craft and want that next step up, y
Lacey Louwagie
The market is saturated with books about the craft of writing and the nuts and bolts of selling, publishing, and marketing your work. But in too many of these resources, revision gets relegated to a passing mention, something along the lines of, "After you've finished your revisions," or "Then revise!" For many beginning writers, revision can be a major stumbling block -- they might know it's needed, but where to start? And just as importantly, where to end?

Cheryl Klein's "Second Sight" is a wel
Aug 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
I love The Narrative Breakdown podcast, and even though I find narrative theory pretty much on a par with MATHS when it comes to getting confuzzled and befused, I'm a sucker for a book on story craft. So when I learned that Cheryl Klein (co-host of the podcast) had self-published a book about editing I had to read it.

At first I was a little disappointed to read in the introduction that there would be quite a bit of repetition -- and please excuse it -- because I thought, 'If anyone can turn a se
Rachel Blom
Feb 22, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-on-writing
Honestly, I don't understand the many 5-star reviews for this book. It's not bad, but it's far from brilliant. I'd give it a 3 1/2 star if I could, 3 is just too low, but 4 stars really is too high.

My main bief was the fact that it consists of transcripts of lectures the author has given, meaning there's overlap on several occasions and a noticeable lack of structure throughout the book.

Ms Klein can write and she can edit, that's for sure. Her advice on editing itself (the so called TRUCK meth
Nov 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing-tips
Second Sight: An Editor’s Talks on Writing & Revising & Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults was a book I picked up at the SCBWI Winter Conference in January after attending Cheryl Klein’s workshop on revision.

It took me a bit of time to get through it, but that’s because I took my time. I read 5-10 pages at a time and put it aside. I let my mind mull over what I read and how it impacted my manuscript.

Ms. Klein writes in a practical, user-friendly style. You feel like she is sp
Jamie Belanger
Dec 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommended to Jamie by: Robin Hansen
I will start this review with a big disclaimer:
Most of this book's focus is on YA and children's books, which I neither read nor write. Because of this focus, many of the provided examples didn't quite work for me. For instance, I can really only tolerate the zombified versions of Jane Austen's work. And I never read Harry Potter (nor do I ever intend to), so all the author's praise for that series falls flat, and I ended up skimming and skipping most of her analysis about the excerpts she used.
Lisa Redfern
Mar 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Pile-o-presents day. Remember the anticipation from the night before? Flutters in the stomach and a jump-up-and-down, I-just-can’t-wait-another-minute feeling?

I still have those when I learn something new that is going to advance my art or story craft.
Cheryl B. Klein’s book, Second Sight An Editor’s Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults contains a broad collection of techniques that fine tune the art of writing. These editing tools are universal – you d
Fleur Philips
Jan 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A compilation of lectures given by professional editor, Cheryl B. Klein, Second Sight is one of the best craft books I’ve read. It was entertaining and easy-to-follow—I felt like I was having a real conversation with a professional editor rather than reading a “how to” manual. The book was filled with samples from some of Klein’s own clients, addressing the do’s and don’ts of writing children’s and young adult fiction. In addition to providing excellent guidance—from writing and revising tips, t ...more
Dec 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Writers, regardless of whether they write YA or not
I got more from this book than any other writing book I've read. Ms. Klein's insight into the editing process are priceless and the exercises had me turning to my M.S. constantly. I greatly valued the insight into the writer/editor relationship. Klein is an editor for Arthur A. Levine Books and has worked with some great writers, such as Lisa Yee and Francisco X. Stark (she was the U.S. continuity editor for several of the Harry Potter novels as well). She walks the reader through some sample ed ...more
Catherine Johnson
Apr 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
What an excellent reference/craft book for writers of all genres.

1. I am very pleased to hear that your book is carried through emotions and character. So although there are lots of rules you could follow if you want to, the good news is that the most important thing is to pour out your emotions into the story and see where it leads.

2. Following on from that, do it your way but be aware that there are lots of steps you could follow in revising your manuscript to make it submission ready and Che
Nov 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: write-pub
I have listened to Cheryl expounding on plot and other publishing issues. She is honest and probably one of the foremost experts on plot development and keeping up the tension. I have before tried to apply her methods given by her through her writings and others who know her and understand her too my complicated nonfiction that I aspire marketing to an adult and YA crowd as one book or two seperate books. Because I am not thinking so well I would be deluded to think I could do this without help. ...more
Joelle Anthony
May 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a very useful tool. I think maybe more so for a writer who has a few books written than someone just getting started. I have two published novels, and so I've been through the process twice with an editor, and this built on everything I've already learned. I found it sligtly repetitive in places, but she tells you up front it will be as it is a collection of lectures she wrote and there is cross-over. The only part I took issue with at all was some of the voice stuff. While I can see why ...more
Apr 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Cheryl B. Klein's book Second Sight: An Editor's Talk on Writing, Revising and Published Books For Children and Young Adults is a must-read for all aspiring writers. Unlike other non-fiction books on writing which can read like a dry text book and be just as boring, hers is written with wit and warmth. Her book is a pleasure to read.

Ms. Klein's book is a collection of her talks that she has delivered at writing conferences across the United States. There are no wasted pages or words in this boo
Joanna Roddy
Jul 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A very practical book to help writers with craft, editing, and the publishing process. Klein's expertise (she edited two of the Harry Potter novels at Arthur A. Levine Books), combined with a down-to-earth, accessible voice, make for a wonderful read. Most helpful for YA or children's authors, but full of gems for all writerly types. Her 25 editing steps and her lecture on "The Art of Detection" are especially helpful for those of us who love a good assignment and wish we were back in school wit ...more
Oct 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I’ve followed Cheryl Klein’s blog for a number of years, so some of the content of this book was familiar to me. This only made me want to read Second Sight more. Cheryl has a keen analytical mind, and her explanations of the details of story structure, using strong examples from published books, are amazing. I always come away with new knowledge and an understanding of the topic at hand.

Anyone interested in writing books for children or wanting to know more about how they are successfully writt
Jul 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, writing
This is a fabulous book, gifted to me by an even more fabulous friend. I really enjoyed reading the essays and speeches and although they are (apparently) all available on her blog, it was nice to be able to read and digest them in this format.

And "digest" is certainly the right word. There's a lot of information packed into this book, and I found myself having to take breaks between each section to let my mind really absorb what I was reading. It's a book I know I will return to time and time a
Sep 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, writing
This resource includes some great plotting exercises for those of us who need a more creative approach to outlining and plot mapping. Lots of practical advice with specifics geared toward kidlit spanning from picture books to YA.

The one fault I think is noteworthy is repetition of ideas and concepts. This is a collection of lectures, speeches, and blog posts, and some of the points are repeated, sometimes even three times. This leads to skimming, which is never a good thing for an author. Overa
Amy Houts
Sep 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reference
Cheryl Klein, editor at Arthur A. Levine, shares important insights about writing children's books, from picture books to young adult/new adult. Each chapter, gleaned from her talks at a number of writers conferences, focused on a different aspect of writing or revising. Written from a personal perspective with an engaging voice and telling examples, Klein doesn't just tell, she shows what makes a good story and how to improve good to great. Although I've been writing and publishing for over 30 ...more
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Cheryl B. Klein is the author of two books for writers, The Magic Words: Writing Great Books for Children and Young Adults, which was published by W. W. Norton in September 2016, and Second Sight: An Editor's Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults. Both books draw extensively on her long experience as an editor in children's and YA publishing. Among the book ...more
More about Cheryl B. Klein...
“A book is kind of like a good Horcrux, if we can imagine that -- a piece of the writer's soul, preserved in a physical object for all time, and changing the lives of all those who come in contact with it.” 22 likes
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