Mar 21

Are You Overthinking Your Story?

As a children’s ghostwriter I work and have worked with a lot of clients.

What I’ve noticed over the years is that some authors can’t stop overthinking their story.

So, what does ‘overthinking’ a story mean?

Well, it means a number of things from not being able to see a manuscript ready for publication to overthinking a sentence or the storyline.

Working with over 300 clients, it’s interesting that only a handful had trouble realizing when the story was complete.

They’d want to add this or add that, not realizing less with young readers is more.

Overall, though, the majority of my clients overthink at the sentence level.

For example, I have one client who questions every duplicate word within a paragraph.

Now, it’s true that choosing the right words is essential for writing, especially writing for children. But there are some words that will need to be repeated whether for emphasis or because the word is simply needed – there may not be a suitable synonym for it.

If you look at the paragraph above, there are words that are repeated: that, words, writing, and for.

Words like conjunctions, determiners, and so on are also factors to consider.

A conjunction is a word that’s used to connect words, phrases, and clauses.

Such words include: and, but, for, if, when, and because.


I’ll go to the store if it’s not raining out.
I’d go to the story, but it’s raining out.

Determiners are words that go before a noun to indicate quantity (e.g., two boys, a lot of dogs). These words are in two classes: an article (the, a/an) and a demonstrative (those, they, this, few, several, that).

An example (notice the determiner, that):

Can you pass me that book?

While often it is possible to rewrite your sentences to avoid repeating words, sometimes it just doesn’t work.

But I’m going astray.

Along with the sentences, clients also overthink the storyline and the characters.

The author may want to fit too much into a young children’s book. They may want to include two different topics within one story. Or they may have too many characters.

When writing for the four to eight-year-old group, simplicity and clarity rules.

The young reader needs one plot and one main character. There can be a couple of other characters, like friends, siblings, or cousins being involved, but you really don’t want more than that.

Again, for the young reader, it’s all about simplicity and clarity.

Trust your ghostwriter, or if you’re writing the story yourself, read a lot of traditionally published books in the genre you’re writing.

This will give you a feel for what good writing is.

You might also actually write out or type out the stories of some of the books you read as practice. It helps train your brain to recognize good writing.

Another strategy you might use if you’re writing the story yourself is to read a number of books on writing skill, take a children’s writing course, or you can hire a children’s writing coach.

Children's ghostwriter

Whether you need help with ghostwriting or rewriting, or coaching, let me take a look at your children’s story. Just send me an email at: Please put “Children’s Writing” in the Subject box. Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700

Let’s get your idea off the launch pad or your outline into a publishable story today!

Or, if you’d rather give it a shot and do-it-yourself, check out my book, HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S FICTION BOOK.


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