I came across few of these tips for writers writing for children, in the college library while researching for a project. Finding them quite helpful, I decided to share them with everyone, after adding few that I thought every children's writer must keep in mind.
1. The writer must feel at ease with children and have a child like quality in his/her own nature. This will ascertain that the writer will create a character who will appeal to the child.
2. The writer should be closely in touch with youngsters of today, because however clearly we can recall our own childhood, things are different now. This will ensure a contemporary set of problems which a child can identify with. The writer can also find out what makes children happy and what triggers sadness in them.
3. The writer should visit children’s department of bookshops and libraries, study the length, format and subject matter of books which are popular and those most frequently bought and borrowed. In this way we can be aware of the current trends and favourites.
4. The writer should read childrens’ favourite authors and find out what it is that makes the books appealing. This research will help in becoming aware of why a particular book/character/story has more appeal than another.
5. Successful writers never talk down to readers, the slightest hint of patronizing or a moralizing approach will ruin all chances of success. Children are extremely smart, they know when they are being manipulated and injected with morals.
6. It is important to keep the action going in the book. There should be excitement on every page. Movement and color are keywords for children’s fiction and the story must be presented in such a way that it will grip the attention on the very first page and hold it till the last.
7. It should have short sentences, paragraphs and short chapters.
8. Time and place must be unmistakable and characters clearly defined.
9. The hero/heroine should come to life as a full bodied person with a strong
10. Animals are a perennial favourite and children will take to it if you tell a good
story about it.
11. Humor is important. Sarcasm does not sit well with children.
12. Children prefer happy endings. The young hero or heroine has to emerge victorious at the end, come what may.
13. There should be plenty of dialogues. Slangs should be avoided as they will date. What is a slang now, may hold no meaning later.
14. Children don’t mind either a first person or a third person narrative, as long as it’s a good story and they can relate to the main character.
15. Descriptions should be kept to the minimum and it should be introduced in small doses, interspersed with lots of action and dialogue.
16. Children love slapstick and revel in the downfall of unpleasant people in authority.
17. The writer should talk to teachers and librarians. They spend a lot of time
with children and are aware of what children like and dislike and what
problems they face in day to day life.
18. Talk to children and ask them what they enjoy and why? That’s the best way of
getting a peep into their taste. Nothing like getting into a reader’s mind to get a
glimpse of his/her thought process.
I found the tips extremely helpful. Anything that helps us to write better and understand the mindset of our target readers is as valuable as gold. Do you all have any tips to share on how to write for children, or how to write for a specific audience? Do you research about the reader’s taste?