Sometime last year, I took part in my first #ukmgchat on twitter, and joked that my perfect book would be something involving farts and friendship. For some reason, today that thought popped into my mind again and it struck me that it was true: farts & friendship = perfect book.
At the same time, I was planning this post. I’ve wanted to blog about writing for a while now, and writing about kidlit seemed the perfect place to start because I am head over heels in love with writing for children.
I am by no means an expert at all, but I’ve picked up a few tips over the last few years. So if you’re thinking about writing for kids, this is for you.
1 // Read
Tip number one has been repeated again and again, but it is singlehandedly the most important thing you can do to get yourself started. Read. Everything. Figure out your reading taste – what do you like and what do you hate? IMO this is the key to the foundations of your writing voice. Don’t limit yourself to genres – read widely – but also be mindful of the market that you want to enter. If you want to write MG – read recently published MG books – not only will this give you a feel for the industry, but you will also be supporting a fellow kidlit author – YAY!
2 // Get Involved
For me, the turning point in my writing journey thus far was joining in the FANTASTIC online writing community.
Twitter in particular is a goldmine of information – there are contests and writing tips and chats and news and so much more on twitter – seriously JOIN IT! If you’re a beginner to the site it can seem very intimidating, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll love it – I promise. Join in some chats (I’ve already mentioned the #ukmgchat, but there is also many many others for every genre of book), follow hashtags (#MSWL, #querytip & #amwriting are my favourites) and get stuck in.
I met a few CP’s (critique partners) on twitter who are AMAZING. Critique Partners are diamonds – you read eachother’s WIP’s, queries etc and cheer when fantastic things happen for them. My CP’s have helped my writing so so much.
If you’ve mastered twitter, expand your social media horizons – Pinterest is GREAT for not only writing tips, but also for creating visual pin boards for upcoming projects. Instagram is another site that can connect you to the writing/book community and blogging is a great way to practice your craft! Read blogs on kidlit, join FB groups, join SCBWI.
BONUS TIP: if you’re writing for kids, it might be an idea to keep your social media accounts free of swearing/other adult content etc!
This may sound obvious, but I actually consider the whole ‘thinking’ part of a story is just as important as writing it.
Your first story thought is the idea. This ‘idea’ is not just any idea – it’s exciting and heart-thumpingly good. If you’re struggling for an idea, think of WHAT IFS.
What if this important historical event never happened?
What if all dogs were secretly wizards in disguise?
What if the Queen’s jewels went missing and you were the prime suspect?
Then you cook the idea a bit. You mull around with what happens after the WHAT IF, you think about where the story takes place, and who the main characters are. This takes me anywhere from a couple of months to a year. THEN…
I have a couple of writing tips:
- Blank word documents are the worst. They are terrifyingly white and empty and I could stare at one for days. That’s why I scribble all over them – I start with chapter headings and one sentence summary’s and then I fill in the blanks.
- Find what works for you – whether hand-writing, or recording yourself speaking, or sending yourself texts of the next chapter.
- Don’t talk down to kids – they’re pretty darn clever and they won’t like it.
- NUMBER 1 RULE: DON’T WORRY ABOUT WORD COUNTS. Not yet anyway – this is draft 1 – they’ll be a billion more to sort that out. Just write until the story is finished, or until you cannot stand looking at the story any longer.
- Go at your own pace. If you draft fast -great! If you draft slow – great! If you write skeleton drafts (like me) with no description/setting etc or if you write massive epic drafts that span hundreds and hundreds of pages – it’s all good. Don’t compare yourself to others and just keep going.
- When you’re done (after saving it a billion times, emailing yourself the MS and backing it up on many computers), don’t look/think about it at all for as long as possible, then re-read and begin editing.
5 // Farts and Friendship
This is the reason why Farts & Friendship mixed together in a gigantic skinky swirl is my perfect book: the books I like to read (and write) ALWAYS have moments of silliness and humor (no matter how dark) and invariably there are about friendships – which, IMO, is one of the most important things in life.
So, what’s your Farts & Friendships? Maybe it’s Pizza and Love? Or Magic and Family? Basically, what I’m trying to say is find your voice! Find what matters to you, the book that you want to write, and write it!
So those are my five starter tips on writing for kids! I hope this post was helpful in some way and I hope you’re having a great week filled with hugs and chocolate and books and dog snuggles!