By Tammy Trail
My contribution to the blog this month is writing for children and teens. Now, I have never considered writing for this genre. I’m a historical fiction gal. I purposely pick a subject matter that I know nothing about in order to learn something new. Well, this topic did not fail in that regard. As I do my research, I am finding that my assumption that writing for children must be easier than writing for adults is proven wrong.
Depending on the age group of the children, you may develop a strong idea for a board book for infants. Picture books with a simplistic story are great as easy readers targeted at ages from 3-6 years old. Chapter books for the grade school years. Then young teens for ages 12-16. From there on it’s considered a young adult market.
Books are not the only venue for writing for children, there are magazines, comics, curriculum, and devotionals. I think retired educators would be perfect at writing for children’s magazines like Highlights, and Ladybug. These are directed towards getting children excited about learning at an early age.
With a full novel the story premise is still the same. Strong, likable characters who are flawed and must overcome an obstacle. A plot driven story can be just as important for children and teens as it is for adult fiction writing. The difference is that with children, you can have a mouse be the main character. Our favorite was “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.” His objective was of course to get a cookie, and in the process one event leads to another in this funny, engaging story.
With teens, it becomes a little more involved. A story starts out with the character following their ordinary day, and the teen is put into a new situation, or meets someone who is very different from themselves. Most of the antagonists are adults, who will stand in the way of teenage goals. The teen is faced with an overwhelming obstacle that he/she must overcome on their own or with the help of friends.
Think of “Harry Potter.” Although his life was not ordinary at all, he was mistreated by the people he lived with for years. Once he became a certain age, his life took a turn, with a new school, friends, enemies, and a huge obstacle with multiple quests he had to accomplish until the final showdown. This is the formula for most teen series publications.
When researching this topic, I used “Writing Children’s Books for Dummies.” It has an exhaustive amount of information on how to begin your journey. The other was, “Getting Started in Writing for Children.”
There are many magazines that publish for the Christian Children’s market as well. Focus on the Family has several. And there are writer’s guides and directories available to help a novice writer. For online guides and directories, there are:
- Children’s Book Council (www.cbcbooks.org).
- Literary Market Place (www.literarymarketplace,com)
- Publishers Marketplace (www.publishersmarketplace.com)
- Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (www.abwi.org)
I shared just a few of the resources available. I hope you will learn as much as I did on this topic when you delve into the research. It’s a hard market, but publishers are always looking for fresh ideas, and you just might have one.
Writing prompt: Research one children’s magazine. Write for them and submit.