Have you ever wondered how to write a children’s book.
Well, it is writing of course but if you think that writing a children’s book is like writing any other book, then hang in there.
You are mistaken.
Writing a children’s book is very different from writing any other book. The process involved in the two are very different. But writing a children’s book is no rocket science, it can be learned.
Learned through practice, efforts and guidance. The last of those three is what I offer you in this article.
Let’s have a potatoes and meat introduction first.
(You know what that phrase means, don’t you)
What is Children’s book?
Children’s book is literature intended to entertain young readers. Though there is no one definition that can define children’s books but they usually refer to those meant for children below the age of 12.
Unlike most other books, children’s books are usually filled with a lot of illustrations and are very short. Children usually see the world in black and white. Therefore, you have to be extra careful about what you are writing in the stories, books, magazines, and poems for children.
Without further ado, let’s dive straight away to answering how to write a children’s book !
Know your readers!
Step 1 of answering how to write a children’s book
It is very important to know your readers to be able to write for them. Publishers and platforms like CreateSpace usually stipulate that you mention the age group that your book is targeting. Also, the kind of content illustrations and content for a 4-year old kid will be very different from a child who is say 9 or 10 years old.
The generally assigned age groups by publishers are-
1.Board books- Newborn to 3 years (is generally about 30 pages and must have illustrations in every page)
2.Picture books-3-8 years (is generally about 50 pages and has illustrations in every page)
3.Chapter Books- 8-10 years (is generally above 50 pages and almost have illustrations in every page)
4.Middle Grade Books- 10-12 years (is generally above 50 pages and 25% of the books has illustrations)
Books meant for children above 12 years of age are usually called young adult books. But, we need not worry ourselves with that here.
Brainstorm and read
Step 2 of answering how to write a children’s book
Once you have figured out the age group of children, get to brainstorming what is it that you want to write about.
The tense in which you will write your story is usually very important to decide while writing a children’s book. But since they are usually very short you can write your book in the other tense (they are usually in the past or the present) as well and see what suits best.
To be able to know how exactly you should go about writing your book, you have to read books similar that have already been published for the age group you are targeting. And not just for writing children’s literature, whether it is writing fantasy, mystery, romance, auto-biography or flash-fictions, you have to read, read and read to be able to write well.
Click Here to know about some of great children’s book out there in the market!
Know your characters
Step 3 of answering how to write a children’s book
What are the characters of your book. By characters I don’t just mean a boy or a girl. It could be fruits, animals, flowers, fairies or dragons ( Woh!, sorry, my game of thrones fever is still high, I presume ). But remember a Children’s book usually can’t have a flat character arc.
Also called the testing arc, a flat character arc is about a character who does not change over the course of the story.
If your story is just about a girl who gets up every morning, takes her pet dog for a walk, comes back, brushes her teeth, gets ready and goes to school and again comes back and does the same thing, then no parent would buy this book for his/her child.
Your character has to be such that it helps children grow by reading about them.
Remember that children usually see the world in black and white. Children, especially those under 8, take things quite literally, so be carefully what you choose to put on the page.
I have written a separate article on character arcs that you can check out from the link given below!
Choose a viewpoint and setting to narrate the story !
Step 4 of answering how to write a children’s book
Your story could be written in the first person or the third. Writing in the third person would mean that you want your characters to have a broader perspective with which they see things around them. Whichever point of view you choose to narrate the story, make sure you stick to it till the end.
Plot-setting will be significant depending on the characters you have chosen for your story. If it is about fairies then, maybe, there could be a snow-land in the story, if it is a story of vegetables then a farmland could be your setting and so on.
Illustrations and Dialogues
Step 5 of answering how to write a children’s book
Children’s stories are usually very short. So you have to keep brevity in mind. Keep it succinct and eliminate everything that does not move your story forward.
The principle of show and not tell applies to children’s book as much as any other form of book writing. But because children’s stories have to have illustrations, you could be very much tempted to just write pages and pages of dialogues because the action is already there. But you must not do that.
keep in mind that this is a Children’s book.
Keep the language very simple and easy to read. And double check to make sure that your content is appropriate and most importantly relatable for children of that age group.
Writing your book
Step 6 of answering how to write a children’s book
The book you are writing must follow the general structure given to any story. There has to be an introduction, the central conflict, actions to resolve the central conflict and finally the resolution.
In the introduction section, jump straight to what’s happening. Do not stretch the introduction with any backstories or anything too descriptive. Remember, brevity is the key. In many terms, writing a children’s book is similar to writing a flash fiction. You have to keep it short, simple and sweet. Many children’s book fail because they do not come straight to the point and drag the beginning of the book too much. Do not do that !
Then come to the conflict with the central character of your story, the action and the experience the character undergoes. Answer what makes them take a new path, how was life before the conflict and how is the conflict affecting the characters through the course of the story.
To the end, answer what happens because of your character’s action or inaction. Answer what wraps up the conflict and come to the end result. The denouement has to be satisfying and happy for the child.
Review and edit
Step 7 of answering how to write a children’s book
Once you have the first draft of your book ready, re-read and edit it. If you have or know children your book is targeting, give the book to him/her to read. Ask the child how s/he felt after reading it, then judge objectively and re-edit if required!
And once you are done, Hallelujah! Dance with happy tears and tell us all about your book in the comment section below so that we could go and check it out for ourselves !