When it comes to writing for children, we have to adopt a new mindset and put ourselves in the shoes of those we want to write for.
The story must have unforgettable characters, with strong personalities and make bold moves. The book must be action packed, suspenseful, with a great hook – shocking and suspenseful with cliff-hangers. Use realistic dialogue. It must sound exactly the same way that we speak – with child-appropriate language. Weave the story line with escalation, to keep the reader engaged.
Picture books may be short, and they may appear deceptively simple, but they are one of the most difficult forms to master. Well-written picture books are works of art that demand an intuitive sense of child appeal and a firm command of language.
Text and pictures work together to tell a story. The best are beautifully compact pieces of art that work on many levels, helping children grow emotionally and psychologically. Most picture books are 32 pages long, including the cover pages.
In essence, the book will have to appeal to two completely separate and different groups of people:
- The children that consume the book,
- The grown-ups that purchase and read the book with their kids.
Children’s books will fall into one of these six categories:
- Board books
- Picture books
- Trade books
- Chapter books
- Middle grade chapter books
- Young Adult books
Your writing style will depend on the age group you are writing for, the associated word count and the story you’re telling. Here are some styles worth considering:
- RHYME: If you decide to write your book in rhyme, you need to make the rhyme very, very good. Make sure lines have the same syllable counts and rhythms. Do not force bad rhymes or skip rhyming. Be persistent and consistent.
- PAST OR PRESENT TENSE: Kids prefer books in the present tense, as it actively engages them in the story, allowing them to experience it as it happens, rather than being removed from something that happened in the past. However, if you’re telling a story that is specific to a certain event or time, tell it in past tense.
- FIRST OR THIRD PERSON: Whose point of view is the story told from? This is one of the most important decisions an author has to make. It is for you to decide if the main character is the central focus on every page, with everything happening to them. Decide if the events are happening through their eyes.
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“Linda has published sixteen books. She blogs about the publishing world, posts useful tips on the challenges a writer faces, including marketing and promoting your work, how to build your online platform, how to get reviews and how to self-publish.”