Tag Archives: Short stories

Books for Children: a writing challenge, with very specific rules

Would you like to write a children’s book? Most writers have their own favorite genre, and that reveals in their stories. Yet, sometimes, you want to do something different.

Writing for adults and children are two distinct things and demand different skills.

When you think about children’s books, you probably picture beautiful drawings, full of color and sweet characters. It may scare you right away, but you need to remember that you’re the writer, not the illustrator.

Planning a children’s book

Now that we are clear about the pictures let’s talk about the actual writing. You might think that it is hard, that you have a lot of competition, which is true. There are thousands of people writing cute little stories and trying their luck with the publishers. So, how can your work stand out from the others? Knowing the structure and avoiding the most usual mistakes.

Make it short

When writing a children’s book, like in any other genre, you need to be aware of its structure and respect it. In this case, there is a very specific one – a very short story (around 550 words, never more than 1000), 32 pages, 24 to 28 of the actual story, with a couple of sentences per page.

Sounds easy now? Not quite. You still need to be very careful with some points. Let’s begin with the story itself. Your small readers are very demanding and specific in what they like (and the publishers know that). Your story must have a clear beginning, middle, and end.

Characters

The characters are very important too. Don’t think that children are easier to content.

They spot all the inconsistencies and don’t let it go. To be good, a character has to be strong and, to some point, realistic. Do you want to write about a flying tiger? Think about how the fact that the tiger can fly would impact other parts of his life. The kids will do it.

Illustrations

As I mentioned before, you need to focus on writing. Write a good short story, with good characters.

The publisher will probably want to hire the illustrator. So, unless you’re a very talented artist, avoid sending the illustrations with the story. Best case scenario, you’ll talk about that later. Yet, while writing, keep in mind that each page will have an illustration. The text should be easy to illustrate.

Look around

Writing a beautiful story for children can seem easy, as soon as you know all the rules, but that’s not quite true.

If you want to be a children’s author, you must follow the market development. Have you read one of these books lately? I’m sure they are very different from the ones from your own childhood. Children’s books changed a lot in the last few decades, and you need to be aware of these changes to be an author.

Face your challenge professionally. Research and find the market rules and tendencies. Children are a very difficult audience, and publishers know that. You need to stand out.

Novels or Short stories?

Should I write short stories or novels? Many beginning writers have this question on their minds. Mostly, this is because many people believe that short stories are for beginners and novels for professionals as if the novels are the “real thing”.

Wrong.

There isn’t a strict rule about how or what you should write. The most important thing for you to know is what each one of those things means, in practice.

Short stories

Short stories are, without a doubt, the easiest way to experiment with your writing. You can easily try different things, grow your personal voice and develop your own writing techniques, without losing too much time on each of those.

This is good for any author! You can be a best-seller, acclaimed writer and even so, find yourself wanting to experiment and try out new things. So what? It’s important for development, finding your way through a new genre, creating good characters, and so many other things that will improve your writing prowess.

Novels

Writing a novel is a completely different experience. It demands lots of time, focus, and commitment from you.

Differently from the short story, you don’t know everything from the beginning, it’s more-so an open work where things will be changing on occasion, even whilst you’re writing. It’s also very good for practice, it just takes a lot more time than a short-story, which can sometimes mean a whole lot of frustration if things end up not exactly as you had envisioned or don’t have the expected outcome.

 

 

It happens to any writer, having an idea yet not knowing if we should write and develop it as a novel or a short story. Let me tell you: it doesn’t matter. Start writing, organizing your ideas and you’ll sooner than you realize, know which way you want to take it.

The most important rule is to read. If you want to be a good writer, you must read, a lot. A whole lot. And if you already know the genre you’d like to write in, choose stories or novels in that genre. Learn as must as you can and let your creativity flow through your words.