I know what I liked as a child, and I don’t do any book that I, as a child, wouldn’t have liked.” -H.A. REY
Finally, you have made up your mind for writing children’s books and are now looking for courses, books or workshops which can help you in this adventure. This week, the Octavo team gathered to discuss how to write children’s books and with the help of collective researches done, we came up with five very important writing tips which you must follow for writing your children’s book.
1. Know your readers in and out
It is of utmost importance to decide who your readers would be and what they’re like. You need to decide for which age group you are going to write. Do they fall in 3-5 age group or 5-10 or above 10? Is this book only for girls or only for boys or both? Is it a storybook or a drawing book or a picture book? There are so many questions for which you need to sit down and brainstorm.
After you decide the age group and the type of the book, you need to sit and get into the mind and the heart of your reader. Imagine what would you have liked to read when you were a kid and decide the structure accordingly.
One important thing to note is that the intellectual levels of the different age-groups vary and you just can’t afford using the same type of language or terminology for all of them.
2. Keep your tone engaging but don’t force it: Balance is a must
Tone is how we use the voice in different situations. In real life, we adjust or manipulate our tone based on a number of factors like:
- Who are we talking to?
- What are we talking about?
- What is the level of seriousness of the conversation?
In every situation, the voice can remain the same but the tone changes. When you separate the voice and tone, you bring the feeling of empathy into existence. That’s what creates the difference between meeting the needs of the user and actually engaging them.
However, you mustn’t try to force it. Excess of anything is harmful. Thus, get into the reader’s shoes, understand how would they empathize with the character and then write with that tone.
3. Choose your characters wisely
Every character should have strengths and weaknesses of their own. The main character should have some dream or goal in life which he achieves at the end of the story. All the characters should have their own tone and voice. Using fillers who don’t help the plot or the development of the story is not a good idea as that will just stretch the story.
Naming the characters is also a crucial task. Names which are not so common in real life sound good in stories. Use of the excess of adjectives or adverbs with names can be little tricky sometimes. For example, Peter Pan became a well-known character. His appearance was not fully described in the book, as the author wanted the users to imagine the character. Another example is from Harry Potter. Remember the names of the wizards and their owls? The crust of the story is that you need to have interesting characters with their own personality and good names.
4. Stay original
Copying won’t take you anywhere. Originality will take you to the places you wouldn’t have imagined. The uniqueness of story is very important. You can always go the mainstream way and write stories about fairies, kingdoms, prince charming etc. but if that’s not very unique and special in its way, it won’t have the desired effect. It is all about giving birth to a new character with your imagination and creativity. Think of a new plot which engages children, think of a new character which makes them laugh or makes them cry. It is about creating uniquely engaging stories. Stay original, that’s our advice to you.
5. Don’t forget images and illustrations
Images play a very important role in the success of any children’s book. Illustrations give a weight to your situation. They help you create the environment for the kids to imagine the plot. Let’s say in a scene, the sky gets darker and very scary. You writing that will have its bearing but you showing through illustrations or images will have a greater impact. Children just love creatively designed books. Also, it helps them visualize and remember things adding to their reading experience.
You can hire an experienced illustrator or designer to get the designs created. Focus on getting the most out of designs. Also, the illustrations and the story should be in synchronization with each other. An illustration which does not support the story is as useless as a story which does not match the illustration.
Writing children’s books requires simplicity. If you can’t explain it to a child, you have not certainly understood it enough. Thus, its very important to have a clarity of thought yourself and then write the manuscript of the book. Here are a few editing tips for the book after the first draft is ready:
- Avoid text which does not add to the development of the story or the plot.
- Keep the text minimal and meaningful.
- Readability of the text should be high.
- Introduce new words for the kids to improve their vocabulary.
- Keep the artwork very illustrative and neat in design.
- Think from a child’s point of view and then edit the story.