HOW TO WRITE STORIES FOR CHILDREN – FIVE RULES
1. DON’T THINK WRITING FOR CHILDREN IS EASY
Do not decide to write stories for children thinking it will be easier than writing for adults.
Writing stories for children is certainly different, but it is not easier and the competition is fierce, to say the least.
Children are discerning readers.
Just take a trip to the library and watch them.
See how quickly they dismiss books they don’t like.
The above illustration is from my book Maggie Many Cats and Other Stories.
If you have freedom of imagination and the ability to see the world from a different perspective you might have the ability to write stories for children.
But, not everyone possesses these characteristics and some people are just more suited to writing for adults.
Writing for children is hard work but if you honestly enjoy the writing it won’t seem like hard work – you will be itching and burning to write some more and that is an important difference.
2. DON’T CHEAT THE CHILDREN
Don’t think you can get away with story problems – that is certainly not how to write stories for children.
Children are not stupid and they are just as capable of feeling cheated by a story with an implausible ending as any adult.
They will object if a character you placed in an inescapable trap is suddenly free without having gone through a very convincing struggle.
So it is very important for a writer to plan a story, and you can learn more about story planning here.
If you are encountering difficulty making a plot work, or having problems making one of your characters believable then you have to work it out or leave it out.
If you can’t work it out then you may have to accept that the story isn’t working and just leave it and move on.
I have done this many times and regard it as a learning experience and valuable writing practice.
Always remember that the children’s section is not a dumping ground for badly plotted or ill-conceived stories.
3. DON’T PREACH
Don’t write for children if you just want to preach at them, or teach them.
If all you want is to tell children to be good then write a manual, or a book of rules, and be prepared for none of them to read it.
Children’s fiction is there to entertain and any learning should be indirect.
You should want children to love your stories and to inspire them to read more – this is true learning.
Of course, there are themes and even morals in children’s stories and choosing a theme is important but the most important thing is the story.
Is it a story that kids can’t wait to get more of? Do they want to read to the end?
Not if they are being lectured on how to be a better kid, or how to beat other kids at sums.
Do you want them to enjoy reading your story or endure reading your story?
Do you want to shove reading down their throat as another compulsory box to be ticked?
Or, do you want them to love reading so much they carry on reading on their own and without being told to?
4. DON’T TEACH
The same goes for education – it should be secondary. There are textbooks whose aim is to educate, so if your only desire in writing for children is to educate them, then write a text-book.
If a child learns something about nature because a character in a story experiences something exciting while trying to burrow their way out of an underground cave then that is fantastic.
But if all the story does is teach them about nature without anything exciting happening to the characters in the story then that is a text-book.
Be very aware of the difference.
5. DON’T RELY ON IMAGES
You cannot make the mistake of relying on illustrations to liven up a story.
Pictures are wonderful but beware of telling yourself that ‘it’ll be okay when the pictures are done.’
If your story is not okay before the illustrations, it will not be okay after.
You are the writer and you need to tell an exciting and compelling story with or without illustrations.
Illustrations offer suggestions to the imagination but words paint the picture – so use each word carefully.
This illustration is from a story in my collection: When Things Go Wonky – available on Amazon here.
You can learn more about how to write stories for children here.
If you would like to see some of my own children’s stories you can find them on Amazon here.
Best of luck with your writing and don’t forget if you have any questions or comments I’d love to hear from you.
P.S. All the information on the site is free for you and the only thing I ask, is that if you found this helpful please like share and leave a comment below. Please feel free to ask questions. I will always do my best to help.