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Writing for Children – Using What You Know

July 12th, 2013

One writing rule often quoted is to write about what you know. Whilst I don’t think this has to be strictly adhered to – providing you research your subject properly I think you can write about most things – it’s a good starting point. It can be especially useful when writing a children’s story, because you’ve been a child.

I know the world has changed since our childhood, children live in a world of technology, they dress, speak and play differently to how we did. But I don’t think their feelings and fears have changed that much, and that’s what I’m suggesting you tap into. Most of us know how frustrating it feels to be smaller than everyone else, to not be able to reach the door handle or get our toys off the top shelf. We know how scary the first day at school is, the first date, the first kiss. We know how it feels to be bullied, left out, not fit in because most of us experienced this as a child.

So before you start to write a children’s story, cast your mind back to how it feels to be a child. A good way to do this is to sit quietly, with a notebook and pen, and think of a vivid memory from your childhood. It could be when a baby brother or sister was born, losing your favourite toy, your first day at school, an argument with your best friend, the crush you had on a lad in your class. Whatever memory you choose, think about how you felt then, and free-write it from the point of view of you, the child. This should help you find your ‘inner child’ voice and help you write your story from the child’s point of view. But do remember to use a modern setting and write in the language children use today.

My book Get Writing: Children’s Fiction is full of hints, tips and writing exercises. Due out on 15 July you can pre-order it from Amazon.

Karen King has been writing children’s books since the mid-eighties. She’s written for many children’s magazines too including Sindy, Barbie, Winnie the Pooh and Thomas the Tank Engine. Some of her short stories were featured on Playdays BBC and some of her poems on the BBC One Potato, Two Potato website. She writes for all ages and in all genres. Story books, picture books, plays, joke books, she’s written them all! She also writes romantic novels under the name of Kay Harborne.

She tutors for the Writer’s Bureau and runs writing workshops in schools.



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