Free Sample 3

Um … what am I doing on this site?

Something must have caught your attention? Was it the word ‘books’? Or the word ‘children’? Or, just possibly, the word ‘writing’. Put the three together, and you could have a lifelong interest on your hands.

Because writing for children is fun. It is particularly fun when you start doing it, when you finish a book and when you see something published for the first time. The bits in between can be pretty damn fine as well, but you have to persevere.

This course is not a list of how-to or a catalogue of rules. In fact, there are hardly any rules in any kind of writing. There were once. Perish the thought of beginning a sentence with And, or But (or even Because). The focus is, and ought to be, on clear, meaningful writing that says what you want to say – as beautifully as you can say it.

It helps to get a grasp of punctuation. Grammar is good, in bits. But the crux of the matter is story, and that has to be absolutely fabulous.

(It is always possible to tidy up the nuts and bolts later – use your Spellchecker.)

READING EXERCISE

Writing begins with reading. If you haven’t read enough to have a clear feeling for words and the age-group you are writing for … go back to the library.

Go back to the library anyway and chose three picture books. Lay them out on a table and have a good look at the covers, the colours, the font (style of print used). Picture books are usually, but not always, large format. Think about why you chose them. Here are some possible reasons.

  • I love cute stuffed toys
  • I love mice/rabbits/dogs/pirates/hedgehogs
  • This booked looked as if it would be funny
  • I love the artwork and the colours
  • It looked as if I might learn something

Most children choosing books will actually look inside as well. (They are pretty sharp). They know that small print means harder work. They know that photographs mean information. They know (much better than adults) that something is expected of them when they pick up a book. Although it is sadly true that books for small children are usually chosen by adults, children like to know what they are in for when they get the chance to select for themselves.

LISTENING EXERCISE

One of the most useful things you can do at the start of your career as a writer (that is why you are on this site, isn’t it?) is to engage with your readers and ask their opinion. Ask it about your three book choices to begin with and then take it from there. You will learn a lot.

A LOT.