Children’s fiction continues to go from strength to strength and it’s an area that the Queensland Writers Centre sees a lot of our writers working in – and aiming to improve their writing in order to reach publication.
With success stories like Aaron Blabey, it’s no wonder.
Blabey’s series, The Bad Guys (Scholastic), has topped the charts, including 37 weeks on the New York Times list of best-selling children’s series. Published in 37 countries, the books have sold over seven million copies with 1.3 million of those in Australia. There’s even an animated feature in development with DreamWorks Animation.
So, how many great ideas for a children’s book do you have? And how do you turn it into a story that resonates with children and the adults who often read to them? There are courses you can do to work on your craft – you can find them here – but we also have five quick tips to get you on the road to success right now.
- Write a story that appeals to you rather than chasing the latest fad or writing what you think appeals to kids. If you have kids in your life, tap into your bank of cute and funny memories for life moments that have stuck with you. Joe Brumm, creator of animated hit, Bluey, has based many an episode on these sorts of memories and the stories resonate with audiences around the world.
- Avoid fads and pop culture references in your work if you want it to stand the test of time. Anything that dates your writing can be a roadblock to future readers and to publishers who work on long time frames.
- Word choice can be tricky and it can be a fine balancing act. Be sure you don’t use difficult words if they can be avoided, but you don’t want to avoid difficult words if they make sense for the story. After all, kids can handle Dilophosorous and Triceratop with no trouble, but using iniquitous for evil is a learning opportunity they don’t need.
- Always remember to use a child’s perspective in your thinking. We all know what it’s like when you return to a favourite childhood place. Everything seems smaller now. That small house you grew up that you thought was a mansion is the world your readers live in. Remember that in your writing and your readers will love you.
- Get an idea of what’s happening in the world of children’s reading and entertainment. What do they love and where might the things you love fit into that world? Read as much great children’s literature as you can. Watch as many great children’s television shows and films as you can. Do courses and have your work edited. It’s a competitive market and you want your work to be the best it can be.
Want even more advice about writing for children? Book in for Shannon Horsfall’s Writing for Picture Books this weekend. Or if you want to stay in your pyjamas, the class is also available to live stream!