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Nine Tips for Writing Children's Stories

How would you like to make some money from an idea you dreamed up in five minutes at bedtime? Not only can it be profitable, it can be a lot of fun too. Hardly like work at all! More about how it's possible shortly. But first let me tell you how NOT to do it!

You see, I love to visit my twin niece and nephew who are four. But I'm not too keen about visiting anywhere near their bedtime. Why? Because that will usually mean they'll want me to tell them a bedtime story. Not just one from a book of course. That won't do. It has to be one I've made up specially for them.

I was really honoured the first few times they asked me. But after a few months, well, I'm not quite so sure. Why you might ask? How can telling a children's bedtime story be that difficult?

Well it isn't. Or it wouldn't be if I had to make up just ONE story for ONE child. But my nephew always wants a story that involves monsters and, how can I put it, a certain amount of mild violence. My niece on the other hand always wants a story that involves fairies and princesses. Trying to bring the two together in one story where the monsters hatch an evil plot to decimate the fairy population yet they all live happily ever after and so keep everybody happy is a real challenge I can tell you!

And then of course once you've told them a great story they want to hear it again. And again. And again. Until I'm the one who's falling off to sleep! Anyway, that kind of gives you the wrong idea. Because writing for children can be an enjoyable and lucrative area of writing that's well worth exploring.

You see, the children's writing market is a pretty big market. Publishers are always looking for new and original ideas. And, as children's books can be quite expensive, there's more money in this type of writing than many others. If you fancy giving children's writing a go, here are some tips to get you started:

First, do your research. Get a clear idea of the sort of things that appeal to kids of the age and interests you're intending to write for. If you've got children/got friends with children of that age that's perfect. You can ask them. If not, bookshops and libraries will usually be glad to tell you what children are buying/borrowing right now.

Now focus your thoughts. Write for that age/interest group. As I've discovered myself writing one story for two kids with totally different interests is not a good idea.

Expand your imagination! Children have massive imaginations so you can make everything bigger, faster, brighter, crazier than you could imagine and it will still work. This is a great opportunity to play around and have fun.

The main cardinal sin you can commit when writing for children is for it to be boring. If it is they'll soon stop reading.

Try to include children in your writing wherever possible. Children love stories when they can identify with the characters in the story. Or, better still, imagine they ARE the characters in the story. This is undoubtedly one of the reasons why the Harry Potter books have been such a big hit.

There are a couple more things children particularly like in stories - action and suspense. They keep them moving on through your story or whatever and keep them turning the page until the end.

Including both a "goody" and a "baddy" is pretty much essential in every story too. That's another success secret we can learn from Harry Potter.

What about illustrations? Lots of children's books, especially for younger age groups, need to be illustrated. But unless you happen to be a skilled illustrator or photographer don't attempt to do it yourself. If your writing is good your editor or publisher will get it illustrated for you.

That said, good children's writing always offers an illustrator lots of ideas for things to illustrate. For example, action is always easy to illustrate.

Another good reason for getting involved in writing for children is that there are lots of different types of writing you can do too:

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