Writing childrens stories can be, contrary to popular thought, difficult. When writing childrens books, many factors must be taken into consideration. Stories for children should serve a purpose while they entertain and stimulate the young mind. However, if you have ideas for story starters, then you should begin.
Some considerations are:
What ethical and moral issues do children in certain age groups face?
What are their favorite animals? Can you make a common animal a topic of interest? What about a little known animal that children should be aware of?
Any little known facts that children should be made aware of can be introduced through a childrens book.
Can you write about an occurrence that will teach that age group right from wrong?
Can you write about a common topic or subject and make it seem fresh?
Ways to learn about the age group of your choice is to….
Read childrens books, not just in the age group you wish to address, but in all age groups so that you learn the differences between childrens books for the various ages.
If you like joining groups, join one, but make it the most professional you can find. Anything less and you may end up with a group of people who do not know any more than you about writing childrens books. Where, then would be the learning? Choose a group wisely.
Let's assume you have a few ideas for writing childrens stories but didn’t know where to begin. The above suggestions should open up a whole new world of ideas while helping determine into what age group your story fits.
Writing childrens stories shares the same format as with writing any stories. They have….
A Middle: If you know the message of your story, introduce it. Is it a conflict? Most likely it is. Something happens. The child or the main character must solve a dilemma. The middle of the story covers how the main character solves the dilemma.
The Climax: The ending of the story shows how the dilemma is resolved.
The Denouement: How it affects all those involved.
What your words say:
It’s not enough to write a cute story. Writing childrens stories are exceptional ways to impart ethics and values to a young mind.
Childrens stories are always cute, no one can deny that. However, in writing childrens books the author has a perfect way of influencing the young and helping to set them on a right course through live.
Avoid slang at all cost. Chances are the slang is from an adult perspective, even if it is used around one or more children. Slang has no place in writing childrens stories.
Avoid big or hard-to-understand words.
Do NOT write childrens stories which are frightening, never!
To help you plant a great but gentle message in your story, ask yourself what it is you want to say with your story. Some samples:
I want to show how a child brought his or her mom and dad back together.
I want to show how a pet can help a sick child thrive.
I want to show how pets protect us.
This is part of your story starters. Something or some occurrence inspired you toward writing childrens stories. The words and pictures may have come to you mentally before the actual verbiage – or the other way around. In any case, it all starts to come together.
You also need to determine who the main character in your story is. Is there to be a sub-character too? Are they a person or an animal? Writing childrens stories even allows plant life and inanimate objects to come to life. That’s exciting in a young active mind! Children fantasize more freely then do adults.
Let’s work with the fourth suggestion above. You know of a dog that protected its master from being mugged. Doesn’t that create a deep love for animals? Therein is how you will write your story. You will want your child reader to see the protective quality of animals, maybe dogs in this case.
When you let your mind free-associate, the words, the illustrations, even the entire story will come to you.
Without thinking, write it.
When you have finished the story, only then should you go back and edit. Edit for the usual grammar and punctuation. But also edit for the values and simplicity needed in childrens stories.
As you include routines such as this, your images will naturally formulate in your mind. Those images will be what you will instruct your artist/illustrator to create. Or you may allow the artist to read the story and product his rendition of what you’ve told him or her.
Things to Remember Before You Begin Writing Childrens Stories:
Young minds lose interest quickly. Your story should not be too long. Your story should not have ho-hum scenes.
You must show your characters’ positive qualities, not by telling what they are but by showing them doing something. If a young girl is brave, show her talking to and taming a mean dog. Show, don’t tell. It’s not enough to tell. The young mind wants action. Show how the girl is brave; show the qualities of your characters in the action of the story.
Give your characters reasonable names. Avoid long names. Silly nicknames are okay as long as the reader can identify it with a particular character. Avoid using names that start with the same letter. Children are very aware of sounds
Similar names like Robert, Roland and Reyna all in the same story would cause much confusion in a young mind. They will lose their way in the story, maybe not be able to keep up because of confusing the same-sounding names. And, of course, the same applies to names of animals or any other characters.
When writing children's stories for the very young, telling a story in rhyme is also very good. Just make sure the rhyme has rhythm. Young minds can easily tell when the meter of a poem is off. Try singing or saying some of the songs and poems for the very young. They all have rhythm and balance. Try singing or saying Mary had a Little Lamb.
When putting yourself into the mind of the age group for which you write, if you can read your story out loud, without stumbling or wondering what something meant; if you like your characters and the message they impart, you’ve got your story!
It’s not only the words that matter.
Story starters probably trigger pictures and illustrations when thinking about writing children's books. Children's stories are usually always illustrated.
If you wish to be writing children's stories but are not an artist who can illustrate your own book, then begin to search for an illustrator. Begin your search when you have your complete story in mind. The story need not be finished, but you will need a fairly complete picture of what you wish to accomplish in the book, the story. However, it’s best to have the complete story to show to an illustrator on whom you’ve settled to make your art. Then an illustrator can better create the characters in pictures.
You have two choices:
1) Pay the artist total fees and retain 100% of rights to the work. However, that artist will most likely require that you allow him or her rights to use the art in a portfolio. But this is good for promotion of your book.
2) The artist may take a retainer (down-payment) and then ask that royalties be paid to him for each book sold. It would be a miniscule percentage, but it will cut into your own royalties from your publisher.
And vitally important…
Study the steps on this page. If you wish to be involved in writing childrens stories, following these instructions will take you to completion when writing childrens books.
Story starters are a beginning, the instructions help you bring it all together.
From time to time, as we find childrens stories that we like, they will be posted on the Writing Childrens Books page. You’ll learn about the authors and see their books. Presently, Bonnie Tweedy and Sandi Bloomberg are shown.
Bonnie’s books deal with lovable cats and kittens.
Sandi’s books deal with magic and dancing, two topics that excite children.
Learn more about these authors and how and why they chose these specific topics.
More authors will be added as examples as we find them.
A great deal of other information about writing childrens stories are also included on the Writing Childrens Books page.