Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Simple as ABC: Writing for Children - Six Basic Tips Part 2

Part 1 of Simple as ABC: Writing for Children - Six Basic Tips  covered tips one and two. Today, is Part 2, covering Tips three through six. So, off we go:

Simple as ABC: Writing for Children - Six Basic Tips Part 2
By Karen Cioffi

3. Show the way for success

While description and a bit of telling have their place, today’s publishers want you to show your story. The technique for ‘showing’ rather than ‘telling’ is to use your character’s five senses, along with dialogue.

The day’s of, “See Dick and Jane walk down the lane,” are far gone.
Showing allows the reader to connect with the protagonist. The reader is able to feel the protagonist’s pain, joy, fear, or excitement. This prompts the reader to continue reading.
If you’re stuck, and can’t seem to be able to ‘show’ a particular scene, try acting it out. You can also draw on your own experiences, TV, or the movies. Study scenes that convey the ‘showing’ you need to depict.

4. Create synergy

Joining the story together in a seamless fashion is probably the trickiest part of writing. The characters, conflict, plot, theme, and details all need to blend together to creat something grander than their individual parts; like the ingredients of a cake. This is called synergy.

It doesn’t matter if your story is plot driven or character driven, all the elements need to weave together smoothly to create the desired affect you are going for: humor, mystery, action, fantasy, or other.

If you have an action packed plot driven story, but it lacks believable and sympathetic characters, you’re story will be lacking. The same holds true if you have a believable and sympathetic character, but the story lacks movement, it will usually also fall short.

All this must be done in an engaging manner, along with easy to understand content.

5. Keep it lean.

According to multi-published children’s writer Margot Finke, today’s children’s publishing world is looking for tight writing. Choose your words for their ability to convey strong and distinct actions, create imagery, and move the story forward.

The publishing costs for picture books over 32 pages is beyond what most publishers are willing to spend, so word counts should be well under 1000, and be sure to make each word count. Keep in mind that the illustrations will add another layer to the story and fill in the blanks.

When writing for young children, the younger the children, the leaner the writing. This means if you’re writing for toddlers or preschoolers, you should limit your word count to a range of 100 to 250 words.

6. Be part of a critique group

This is a must for all writers, but especially for children’s writers. There are so many additional tricks of the trade that you need to be aware of when writing for children, you’ll need the extra sets of eyes.

Your critique partners will no doubt be able to see what you missed. This is because you are too close to your own work. They will also be helpful in providing suggestions and guidance. Just be sure your critique group has experienced, as well as new writers.

If you missed Part 1 here's the link:



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kathy stemke said...

Great tips my friend. are those children your grandkids? They are adorable!

Karen Cioffi said...

LOL, yeah, I only used the photo because they had on the sunglasses!

They went to Disney Land last month.

kathy stemke said...

It's great. They are gorgeous! Show off a little-you deserve it. You watch them every week, right?