Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Writing for Children

If you're writing books for children, here are some tips - just a random assortment of ideas to help you if you want to start a career in children's writing:

  • Find subjects to write about NB kids love creative writing
  • Manage your time
  • Decide on the approach to use in your children's stories
  • Portray 'real' children in your stories
  • Meet others involved in writing for children
  • Approach children's literature publishers
  • Enjoy yourself!
  1. Spend some time jotting down memories of childhood - sights, sounds, feelings, events, friends and so on.
  2. Spend time with children of the age group you want to write for.
  3. Start a group of writers who are interested in writing for children.
  4. Visit libraries and talk to librarians about the books children like best.
  5. Read the winners of the Children's Book of the Year Awards
  6. Visit book stores and talk to the proprietors about which books children like best.
  7. Ask book store owners which books adults buy for children.
  8. Study published books for a range of age groups to get the 'feel' of the way children think and talk.
  9. Read your work out loud to get a feel for the rhythms of children's speech in dialogue.
  10. Read your work out loud to eliminate any long or unclear sentences.
  11. Visit playgroups, playgrounds, shopping malls, the beach and other places where children congregate; talk to their parents and watch the way children interact, speak and play together.
  12. Approach your work as a children's author like a professional. Study the craft carefully, and don't expect instant success. All successful people have put in some kind of apprenticeship.
  13. lnvest in professional equipment. Although you can write stories by hand, you should submit your work to a publisher professionally printed or typed.
  14. Be prepared to work with editors if they request changes to your manuscript.
  15. Enrol in courses and/or attend workshops to learn fiction writing techniques.
  16. When you send your work to a publisher make sure it is typed on A4 paper, double-spaced with wide margins all round. The text should be clear black, not greyish.
  17. Enrol in courses and/or attend workshops to learn correct manuscript layout and submission procedure.
  18. Build a professional library of books and magazines on writing skills.
  19. Be as creative as you can when writing, then look at your work objectively when it comes to editing.
  20. If an editor expresses interest in your work, make sure you meet agreed deadlines.
  21. Always be courteous towards editors and publishers, even if you're (a) hurt that they rejected your work or (b) dissatisfied with changes they've made.
  22. Find a quiet area in which you can work and leave the manuscript in progress.
  23. Learn time-management skills to make the best use of your writing time.
  24. If possible, establish a routine which allows you to sit down about the same time every day to work on your writing.
  25. Learn to delegate tasks to others to make more time for writing.
  26. Set realistic goals and stick to them.
  27. Find another writer, or someone who knows a lot about children's books, to read and give opinions on your work.
  28. Remember that children like action. Don't have your characters sitting around and thinking for a great deal of the time.
  29. Children love suspense. Keep them wondering, and they'll keep turning pages.
  30. Don't let your story stand still while you describe the scenery.
  31. lf you want to write picture books, carefully study popular picture books to see how much of the story is carried by the illustrations.
  32. lmagine your picture book divided into pages. On each page, the words should describe something (action, person, animal) which is readily illustrated.
  33. The text which guides each successive illustration in a picture book should build the story, and not be too similar to previous illustrations.
  34. Children love humour. Learn to write it and your books will walk off the shelves.
  35. Not all children sound the same, so make sure your characters don't all sound the same.
  36. Learn how to talk to children of different ages, so you can get extra work in schools as a visiting author.
  37. Think about joining a drama group. This will help you to act out parts for children when talking to groups at schools about writing.
  38. Do a scriptwriting course to help you (a) handle dialogue and action better and (b) learn how to write plays for children.
  39. Try writing short stories for school magazines.
  40. Keep a file of newspaper and magazine clippings that stimulate story ideas.
  41. Join a professional writer's association.
  42. Network with other children's writers. Go to where they're speaking or doing a reading.
  43. Check your work for the basics before sending it to an editor - grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
  44. Last but not least (it bears repeating) include humour in your writing - children love to laugh!
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