Tuesday, March 8, 2011

18 Tips for Children’s Writers

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?


  1. These are wonderful! I am sending this post to a friend who is trying to write children's books. Thanks a lot :)

  2. Wonderful tips. Hope I was on Twitter and I could tweet them so the maximum number of people read it. This should be shared with all writers for children.

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  4. I'll try again without so many typos! Thanks for those excellent ideas, Rachna. Right now I need suggestions about how to stop editing, let go, and send my next children's book to the printer!

  5. Some great tips. I'm tempted to write MG someday, but I'll need to look at this post again if I do.
    Thanks Rachna!

  6. Yes, to all of the above! So glad you shared this; I've been meaning to get out several children's articles and stories, refine and submit them.
    Have a great week!
    Karen :)

  7. Thank you Rachna, great post.
    I have found that my writing has changed as my children grow up, I think I identify with them at different ages and the writing follows the same pattern. The MC in my book was originally ten years old, the same as my son. I kept going back to the MS over the years and the MC evolved into a teenager like my son! :)

  8. I think not taking down to readers is something across the board. I really appreciate that in books. Great list!

  9. Fantastic tips. Many are also relevant to writing for other markets as well.

  10. They are very good tips, Rachna!
    Many people think that writing for children should be easier than writing for adults - ha, if only they knew the reality. :)

  11. Terrific tips! I love talking to my niephlings about their school and friends and teachers. It's even better when I'm visiting and they have a friend or two over. I get lots of good ideas! (And the things kids say are hilarious!) Thanks for sharing, Rachna!

  12. Very good points. I have a submission out now and in talking to the publications manager she said she thought my mc was a bit too mature, however, she still had to get the editor's opinion. I think however, that children are way more mature than they used to me. I use my son as a case in point to never write down to young readers. Gonna print these out and chew over them. Thanks!

  13. Thast's a great list of pointers.

    I'm reading YA fiction at the moment. The Ask and The Answer. :O)

  14. This was awesome! Spending time in the children's section of the bookstore sounds like fun to me! :)

  15. What a great list! So glad I discovered you from Victoria Dixon's blog. I am going to tweet this!