Thursday, April 23, 2009

Writing Children's Books - Not as Easy as You May Think

Hi all,



Whenever I tell people that I work at home as a writer, the first thing they ask is if I write children's books. I never understand this question; either they think that just anyone can write a children's book or they think I'm so motherly that that is what I'd write. Writing any type of book takes a lot of thought and work, but those who have never tried to write for a living tend to not understand that. I thought this article by Kaley Harrick describes what goes into writing a children's book fairly well, so I'd like to share it with you.



Happy writing,

DeAnna


Guest Author: Kaley Harrick




As adults we all remember the books we enthusiastically read as I child. I personally remember the excitement every Friday when I would rush home from school, knowing that my Nan would have the next book in the Roald Dahl collection waiting for me. The Twits and The BFG will be stories I remember forever, as I’m sure they will be by many other children from the 1980’s.

With this in mind it irritates me when I hear people say that writing a children’s book is an easy option, a stepping stone to writing an adult book. There is so much consideration needed when writing a children’s book especially when you consider how receptive children are to surrounding influences. It really is important to understand the effect the literature and themes in the book with reflect on the child. Writing a child’s book holds more restrictions than that of an adult book.
The theme, vocabulary and the length need to be well thought out. A child is impressionable and will explore the views and thoughts in the literature which will inevitably reflect into their own lives. The language and vocabulary will affect the intellectual and educational aspect of the child’s life so this also needs to be accurately judged. For this reason writing a children’s book is highly complex and time consuming research needs to be put into place. So once the theme, vocabulary and length is in keeping with regulations of the child’s parent and educators- it is now time to engage and connect to the target audience- the child.

A child in certain cases can be an adult’s toughest critic. With their innocence they are sure to show honesty and true emotion to your book in the purest form. They have not yet mastered the art of pleasantly articulating constructive criticism, instead they speak instantly from the heart as and when they see fit. To delve into the world of writing for children it can often be a criticized and invasive place to be. The adults investigating child development through literature- namely parents, teachers, government and publishers, will critique your book. The readers themselves will judge your book. So it is important that you do your research first and foremost. Only then can you let your talent rein free to write creatively. The children’s book writing world may be a tough world to be in, but it will most certainly be a satisfying craft when you succeed and have your fantastically creative book read and enjoyed by children all over the world.

Writing a children’s book requires a vivid imagination, creativity of words and enthusiasm. Most importantly the fundamental aspect is the ability to see through the eyes of a child. For this reason it is paramount that you do your research first. A fresh and curious perception to the world is needed in order to create engaging material for a child. You need your book to relate to the child in order for them to be fully engaged, excited and interest in your book. You need to investigate; what are children today interested in?, what are their likes and dislikes?, which words do they use to communicate with one another?, what books do they read?, what toys do they play with?, what songs do they like?, what clothes do they wear?, what magazines do they buy?, what are they afraid of? , what excites them?. From this you will understand what writing will reach them and inevitably will make your book popular.

Once you have fully researched and investigated children’s preferences, it’s on to the story. This is the part that requires your talent, enthusiasm and creativity to be put into action. This is the most important factor to consider. You need to decide what type of book you want to write, what themes you wish to portray, which messages you wish to inspire and what result you wish to have. Many authors like to develop their books with interactive workshops and if it is business plan, merchandise and sequels may follow. For this reason this will all need to be decided while writing the story. Whatever you decide make sure it fits the research you have found. Even refer back to books you loved as a child and other books available now. While writing your story it is important to remember a child’s concentration is smaller and their attention span is lower than adults. Therefore a story must grip them instantly; it must be simple and uncomplicated.

Lastly it should be relevant, fun and entertaining. After all as an author it is important to keep literature as an influential means of contemporary entertainment to rival that of the Xbox and PlayStations.

The language and vocabulary within the literature for children is also important, for both intellect development and focus. It is beneficial to avoid big words that a child will not understand. It is beneficial to strengthen vocabulary in books but if a child cannot read the words they will loose concentration and enjoyment. Research shows that a child does not appreciate more than a few words per sentence. These are quite important words of wisdom for a new writer, as it is easy to run the risk of elaborating and extending texts due to previous writing experience. A book should act as inspiration for positive intellectual, personal and emotional development and therefore should not include slang words, inappropriate language or unsuitable themes. The writing should be of the best quality and standard to suit the age group and should encourage young readers to love their language and to want to read more.

The messages you choose to infuse into the story is important and extremely diverse with option. A book can effectively promote positive affirmations that children can adopt and inflict on their own lives. As long as they story has a happy ending the book will achieve great results for a child’s optimism to life. There are too many negative factors inflicting upon their lives as they’re growing up. A child will enjoy their characters living happily ever after; it will make them feel positive to tackle their own problems throughout the day. Characters should have positive traits: bravery, humor, honesty etc that the child reader can copy.

Literature is a useful tool to not only inspire positive healthy children but it is also a great source of escapism and entertainment for them. As long as a bright, colorful and optimistic realm is created and the themes are relevant to a child, I’m sure it will be enjoyed. This along with the other aspects mentioned previously, are the ingredients required to write a successful children’s book. I encourage with passion any person reading this who feels they can go ahead and write a children’s book. We need as many influential children’s authors actively writing in order to keep this form of inspiration and child development alive.

If you need any extra details please visit the website http://www.themagicsunglasses.com/ and learn how Angela Buck has created a fantastically inspiring children’s book and other projects to empower and connect children through literature.



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