Wednesday, August 28, 2013

How to Write for Kids

Tween the Weekends is a monthly feature sponsored by: Emblazon

I love writing for kids!  There is something very rewarding about having a child give you a compliment on your story.  They way their eyes light up as they discuss their favorite character, or my favorite, having someone tell you that their kids started pretending to play a game they made up, using the characters from your books.

However, writing for children isn't easy.  There are certain things you need to make sure you are doing if you choose to write for children.

1.  Decide what age you are targeting.  Sometimes I find that authors have listed their books as a Children's Book, but it's 70K words, and 25 chapters long.  This would more likely be considered a Middle Grade or Young Adult novel.

2.  Watch your language!  Children's books and Middle Grade books are targeting children under 12 years of age.  I can't tell you how many times I have put a book back on the shelf because of foul language.  Just because today's society tells us it's okay to put in a few bad words, doesn't mean you should.  A lot of parents are pre-reading books before they allow their children to read them, myself included, because authors seem to forget the age they are writing for.

3.  Content!  Children love to use their imaginations.  If you are writing a fantasy or fiction book, give them something to try and figure out.  I have found the younger children can imagine the scenery better than older children if you paint a bigger picture. Don't be afraid to be descriptive, as long as you can keep the story flowing.  Don't put in unnecessary information.  Kids get bored quickly.  DO NOT ever put "romantic scenes" in a children or middle grade book! Even when writing Young Adult, less is more!

4.  Artwork is an essential part of writing for children.  The more colorful the better.  If it's a children's book, make sure your artist knows the story. Don't be afraid to tell the artist you don't like something.  If they don't know, how can they fix it.  If you are writing a Middle Grade Novel, it will almost always be judged purely by the cover.  I have watched so many kids, look at the cover of the book, and if it doesn't catch their attention immediately, they put it back on the shelf without ever flipping it over and reading the description on the back.  The spine font is also important.  It needs to stand out among the other hundred books it's sitting next to on the shelf.

5.  If writing non-fiction, make sure you use words that kids can understand.  I find that even ten to twelve year olds are having a difficult time with larger words that they don't hear frequently.  Sometimes it might be necessary to incorporate a definition in the paragraph.

6.  Remember who you are writing for.  You are writing for a child that probably still likes his/her parents to read them a bed time story, or tuck them in at night.

7.  And last but not least...ENJOY your writing!  If you don't like it, neither will your target audience.

I hope that I have helped.  I would love to know what you have discovered in your own writing.  What do you think are the best tips for others writing in this genre?


Lois D. Brown said...

Hi Alicia, Great tips. I haven't thought much about spine font. So much to think about. Thanks for participating in the TTW blog. It is fun reading them all.

Alicia Rivoli said...

I'm glad it was helpful. Do you have a link for the TTW Blog?

Christina Mercer said...

Helpful post! And I agree, book covers and pics really grab a kid's interest. They grab this very large kid, too, ha ha :-)

Anonymous said...

Great post that fit in well with the Tween the Weekends feature. Was it intentional, or did you forget? ;) Worked out great either way. Here's the link back to the list of all participants:

Alicia Rivoli said...

Actually I had forgotten, but I'm glad it worked out. :)

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