The Kid in Me & You

Who doesn’t love a good children’s book?  There’s always a little bit of a kid still in us, no matter what our age. But perhaps you’re considering writing a children’s book?  If so, do it!

Figure out what type you’d like to write: early reader, picture book, chapter book, middle grade, YA, etc.  Challenge yourself.  Have fun.  Write to your heart’s content . . . or until the imagination drowses . . . then pick up again the next day.

Before you submit your completed work to a publisher or editor, confirm that it’s professional quality.  This means, yes, you’ll have to edit it.

While you want to be aware of how you express yourself on paper / on the screen for a younger audience, most of the basic editing “rules” still apply.

Have a dynamic opening—you want to catch your readers immediately (reel them in from the get-go).

Remember the opening of Charlotte’s Web?  Young Fern asks why her father has an ax.  Mrs. Arable says he is going to the barn to do away with the runt of a pig litter.  The little girl immediately races out to stop her father.  I don’t know about you, but I was sucked in right away (in fact, I didn’t put that book down until I finished it, a sobbing, blubbering mess).

Ensure that the plot/storyline are entertaining; young(er) readers get bored with bad, silly, or boring plots just as easily as older ones do.

Offer an intriguing (entertaining) main character and ensure the other ones are strong/personable/memorable.

“I am Sam”.  Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs & Ham was a favorite.  Simple.  Fun.  Entertaining.  But, then, so were most of his books—all with memorable and fun characters.

If your main character is searching for something, or perhaps themselves, or may think aloud a lot, talk to themselves, or have things to share, consider adding a “buddy” that he/she can bounce ideas off of or enjoy adventures with.  There are many friendships to list from childhood, but think of Charlotte and Wilbur, Charlie Brown and Snoopy, Bently and Daisy, Winnie-the-Pooh and Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet, and Roo, Curious George and the Man in the Yellow Hat.

Make certain dialogue serves a purpose and isn’t repetitive.

Show, don’t tell; ensure action and dialogue make the story come alive.  Keep the “he said” “she said” to a minimum.

Avoid using the same words too frequently, and don’t be overly descriptive or detailed.  Maintain your young readers’ attention.

Provide appropriate transitions when moving to a new scene or chapter.

Be clear.  Keep the flow and action consistent and logical.  The story and action have to make sense (even if in a fairy/fantasy world).  Provide reasons for actions/reactions.  If Mr. Moose and Mr. Caribou have to fly to Alaska on a magical sled, ensure the reader knows why—even if they’re doing it for a lark.

Keep the writing tight and pace steady/smooth.

There you have them, a few suggestions.  Editing your own work, as many will attest, is not always easy or enjoyable (the moans and groans can prove plentiful, so can the caffeine breaks).  Think of editing as a challenge.  Pull on your editor’s hat and have at it.  You can do it . . . and you may even have fun.

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