Please welcome author Ann Marie Meyers! Her new middle grade fantasy is now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble! For my full review, CLICK HERE.
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Ann Marie’s Five Tips for Writing for Children
Why does anyone want to write for children? Why do you? The answer to that question will determine the age group and type of book you choose to write (picture book, middle grade or young adult). Yet, despite the different slant of each of these genres, there are still some basic steps to success that would apply to everyone.
- A first good step, and a crucial one, is to check out children’s books in the age group you want to write for. This will give you an idea of what is on the market, and what kids are reading these days. Children are different from when I was a child. What I initially thought a 10- or 12-year old would be interested in, was unrealistic, not to mention very childish. Children nowadays are more savvy. They read Harry Potter, the Hunger Games, Twilight. When I was 10, I read the Bobsey Twins!!! I loved those stories. Yet kids are still kids. The challenge is to find that fine balance between what seems to grab their attention and what, at some basic level, they are searching for.
- Another helpful thing to do is join a children writer’s critique group. This is so incredibly important, not only because you can learn a lot and bounce ideas off of other writers, but a critique group can also be very supportive, with people who know where you are coming from. Writing can be a lonely job, and getting encouragement and feedback is a goldmine.
- Now here’s a relatively expensive third step. Attend writing conferences or seminars, such as those organized by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). You will meet fellow writers (some published), be able to interact with agents and even publishers, gain useful knowledge from the speakers, and even have the opportunity to submit one to three chapters to an agent or another writer and get feedback (for a price of course.)At one of these SCBWI conferences, I had submitted the first chapter of one of my manuscripts and was told by the author who critiqued it (Alma Fullerton) to change the tense from past to present, and to switch the voice from 3rd person to 1st person. I was horrified by the suggestion but several weeks later I tried it. It was a life changing decision. Before I’d finished rewriting the first page, I knew she was right. That book was Up In The Air.
- A site that is a wealth of information is verlakay.com. Check it out. It is also a great place to connect with other writers, pass your queries through for feedback, and even exchange manuscripts with your new ‘friends’.
- The real fun begins when you’ve completed the first draft and it’s time to rewrite and revise ad infinitum. If possible, ask several children’s writers to read the full manuscript; I recommend at least three people. Of course, don’t forget to research agents and read their guidelines and follow them. You’ll need a dynamite query and synopsis… but that’s for another topic.
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