I would like to welcome back Katherine Smithson to NAG today! She is here to talk a bit about the art of writing books for kids. Enjoy!
“Writing for children is bloody difficult; books for children are as complex as their adult counterparts, and they should therefore be accorded the same respect.” – Mark Haddon
Most of us may think that children books are “just” children books. We may think little of those books because of the connotation that writing one is easy and simple since they are for kids. But what most of us don’t realize is that writing a really great story or novel for kids takes a lot of wit, intelligence and creativity. Writing a book for those little ones is definitely just as, or sometimes, even more challenging and difficult as/than writing a book or a novel for teens and adults. So if you’re kind of curious about this whole kiddie writing stuff and you also think of or plan on writing such wonderful fairytale and adventure books or stories for kids, you’re on the “write” page of the Internet (pun intended).
Expand Your World
As you sit down and start to write on a piece of paper or on your computer, you have to remember to enlarge your world and your boundaries. More often than not, children books and literatures are not strictly rooted in reality. There are also imaginary worlds and lands far, far away. You can go above, beyond or beneath. You can create your own world, planet, timezone, people, language, culture, and a lot more. When writing for children, never limit yourself on reality. Go back to your most beautiful dreams and terrifying nightmares — the characters and places there are products of your insane imagination and creativity as kid.
Magical But Logical
One of the things which makes everything about writing for kids difficult is the fact that they are oftentimes more intelligent and observant as we expect them to be. A little bit of inconsistencies and questions that cannot be answered along the way can definitely defeat your writing purpose. Just like writing a paper for school or your best essay, everything has to be logical and consistent. Yes, kids love magic and out-of-this world stuff, but keep in mind that for them, everything has a reason. You can put on fairies and dwarfs and talking broomsticks there, but make sure they are there for a reason.
Relearn the Kid Lingo
Deep and highfalutin words or phrases for a children’s book is a big NO-NO. This is pretty much self-explanatory. But aside from that fact, you might also want to relearn speaking the kid language. Remember how you talk while playing when you were just a kid. What vocabulary words do you use? How was your tone? Do you use very long and complex sentences instead of a short and simple one? What would you think you say if you were this character back when you were a child? Your vocabulary and tone are two of the most significant factors upon writing a book for kids since they have VERY short attention spans. If they can understand the language used in it, then they will definitely read.
Impart a Moral or Two
Just like what I mentioned earlier, kids are definitely intelligent and they usually learn from what they hear and read. That’s why it is important to instill good moral and life’s good lessons throughout your stories. May it be about family, friendship, keeping others’ trust, forgiveness, being honest, and anything else, it’s a must that kids learn about those lessons early on. When writing for children, writing style and literary quality must be of equal importance as the lesson you will impart to your little audiences.
Animals and Trees Can Talk
Don’t argue with this simple fact. For them, animals and other things around can talk, Santa is real, and the Tooth Fairy might come anytime soon to collect their milk tooth. So if you plan to write for them, you have to think just the same. You might also want to imagine things, like your stuffed toys, having personalities, feelings and emotions too. You will never have a hard time creating your characters when you think of them possessing those.
Most of kiddie stories and adventures are feel-good. They often portray hope. Perhaps that’s why kids have a lot of faith and positivity inside of them. So don’t go out of the trend. Always give them something to look forward to. Although they may later on realize the life isn’t always full of rainbows and butterflies, at least they have lots of it stored inside their hearts from their childhood.
Think Like a Kid
Lastly, try to think like a kid. As you sit down and ponder upon how to write the story you have in mind, be the kid that you once were — the simple, witty, vigorous, creative, and imaginative you. Reread your old childhood books and don’t lose your literary taste onn them. Enjoy writing your story as much as you would enjoy reading your favorite classics. Think as if you are the seven or eight-year old you once were.
Well, writing for kids might be kind of difficult. However, it is also a way to somehow escape reality and distress yourself. The world of the grown-ups is just too horribly frantic and frustrating. But no matter how peculiar the world of a kid is, it’s still the most peaceful and hopeful world in all universe. You can start entering that world again. Write for them.