We all know how difficult it is to break into the business of writing for children. Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, it is a tough business and can be overwhelming for those just starting out. While all writing must adhere to certain guidelines, writing for children has additional principles unique to its genre.
To start, the words used in children’s writing must be age appropriate. This may sound easy to do, but it can be a difficult task. There are also certain techniques and tricks used specifically in writing for children, such as the Core of Three, sentence structure, and the timeframe in which the story should occur when writing for young children. In addition, it’s essential to make sure your conflicts, storyline, and point of view are appropriate for the age group you’re writing for.
Along with this, there are general techniques for writing, such as adding sensory details, showing instead of telling, and creating an engaging story that hooks the reader right away, along with great dialogue and correct punctuation.
This is just the beginning though, there is also the business of editing your work, the book summary, writing a winning query, and following submission guidelines; the list goes on and on.
But, don’t get discouraged, there is help.
three four basic tools to get you started and guide you down the children’s writing path:
1. Children’s Writer’s WORD BOOK by Alijandra Mogilner is a great resource that provides word lists grouped by grades along with a thesaurus of listed words. This allows you to check a word in question to make sure it is appropriate for the age group you’re writing for. It also provides reading levels for synonyms. It’s a very useful tool and one that I use over and over.
2. Read and learn about how to write for children. There are plenty of books and courses you can find online that will help you become a ‘good’ children’s writer. One in particular is: The Institute of Children’s Literature.
Another great resource to learn the craft of writing for children is the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. They have outstanding workshops. I’ve attended a couple so far and when they have another local one, I’ll be there!
In addition, they have a helpful forum with experienced writers who are happy to help other writers.There’s an annual fee, but worth every penny.
3. The Frugal Editor by award winning author and editor, Carolyn Howard-Johnson, is a useful book for any writing genre, including children’s. It is great resource that guides you through basic editing, to getting the most out of your Word program’s features, to providing samples of queries. The author provides great tips and advice that will have you saying, “Ah, so that’s how it’s done.”
4. Grammarly and ProWritingAid are two editing tools that I use. I started using them a few months ago and LOVE them. They do have a yearly fee, but I find they’re worth the cost. I use them for my own work (including my articles) and my clients’ work.
I’ve invested in a number of books, courses and programs in writing and marketing, and know value when I see it; these products have a great deal of value for you as a writer, and if you’re budget allows, they are definitely worthwhile writing tools.
I consider these four resources essential tools in my children’s writing tool belt. But, the most important aspect of creating a writing career is to actually begin.
Remember, you can’t succeed if you don’t try. It takes that first step to start your journey, and that first step seems to be a huge stumbling block for many of us. Don’t let procrastination or fear stop you from moving forward – start today!
MORE ON CHILDREN’S WRITING
Want to take your writing (your story) up a notch? Want to make it pubishable?
Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and coach. I can turn your story into a publishable and saleable book.
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