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Could You Be The Next Children’s Laureate?

August 20th, 2015

natmr.blogFirst this week, before I even say thanks to Helen, I must apologise for our continuing lack of pictures. We hate having a dowdy blog, and we’ve got our back-room boys beavering away at getting things sorted.

Now on to Helen’s contribution last week.  All I can say is that I couldn’t have put together a better list of tips myself. Her comments cover so many of the basics that novice writers need to take on board if they are to be successful and, what’s more, survive!

This week I want to look at writing for children. I come across so many people that seem to think it’s an easy way into the writing world. I’ve heard all of these comments at one time or another:

‘The books are shorter, aren’t they?’

‘Children don’t know as much as adults so the research will be easier, won’t it?’

‘My grandchildren love the stories I tell them at bedtime, so I’ve already got plenty of material.’ (Yes, but perhaps it’s just having a cuddle while you’re telling them the story that keeps them hooked, as much as the content – or am I being cynical?)

‘I loved Enid Blyton (et al)  – and I’m sure I could produce similar stories.’ (Yes, I remember keeping an entire coach party entertained on a trip to Portugal 30 years ago, by reading ‘Noddy and the Magic Rubber’ to my son – but tastes change!)

And there are more… but I’ll stop there. Instead, if you are planning to writing for children, ask yourself the following questions and think carefully – and honestly – about your answers:

Why do you want to writer for children? It might be because you want to make money (let’s be honest, most of us enjoy making money). Or it might be because you want to teach children something. These are both valid reasons. But probably the best reason of all is because you want to produce something that will give children pleasure, that will entertain them and will help them get into the habit of reading that will last them a lifetime.

Do you like children? I hope so, because if you don’t it will come through in your writing and your young readers won’t be fooled.

Do you understand how children think and what interests them? It isn’t essential to say ‘yes’ to this but you must be prepared to get out of your comfort zone and try…and keep trying until you do understand them

Do you have much contact with children? You don’t need children of your own, but you do need to meet children, talk to them, listen to them and watch them (how they act, talk, speak and play) if you are to create realistic characters for your books.

Do you read modern children’s books? If you don’t, then go and read some! You must know what children like reading TODAY.

What sort of children’s books do you want to write? What appeals to you most? Do you want to write picture books, story books, non-fiction or educational books? You must have some idea of what you’re aiming for before you begin.

If you sit down and work through these questions you’ll be in a much better position to decide whether your plans to write for children are realistic and just how you’re going to achieve them.

Moving on, just a quick reminder that our Short Story Competition is now accepting entries. The prizes are £300, £200, £100 and £50 – and every winner also gets a Writers Bureau course of their choice (worth up to £394). You could even choose our Writing for Children Course if you feel inspired by what you’ve just read!

And my guest next week will be Iain Pattison – our judge for the Short Story Competition – who will be highlighting how, as a writer, you never know where you next (or first) big break will come from.

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About The Author: Diana Nadin

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