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
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: