Top tips

Here are our top 10 tips for children’s fiction writers

  1. Find out what books today’s kids are buying and enjoying. Absorb contemporary culture and literature, but never try to copy anyone else’s voice or concept because you think they’re successful right now. What’s hot today may be stone cold in a year’s time and it will take at least this long for your book to be published.

  2. Write, write and write some more! Every writer has a special, unique voice, and it can take some trial and error to discover that and develop it.

  3. Publishers publish into age categories – young fiction, middle grade and young adult.  Be very clear who you are writing for; many novels never find a home because they don’t speak clearly enough to any section of the market.

  4. There are two aspects to any great book:  the quality of the writing and the quality of the plotting.  You need to have a strong, individual, fresh voice that pulls the reader in – but you also need a great story to tell.

  5. Work out a structure to your story, especially the ending, so you know where it’s going when you start writing. A good outline will not only ensure your story doesn’t run out of steam – it will also help you pitch your work to an agent or publisher.

  6. Decide at the outset who is telling your story and be consistent in telling it from that character’s perspective.

  7. Will your story be told in the first person or the third?  And what form will it take – a straightforward narrative or a journal or what? Pick a form that really matches your story.

  8. Start your story strongly so that the reader is grabbed from the beginning. You could start with a dramatic moment, or a moment of change or discovery.  If you’ve bored readers in the first 20 pages you’ll probably never get them back.

  9. Show don’t tell. That is, let your characters show what they think and feel – don’t just tell your reader about them.

  10. Get your first draft down, then take time out to distance yourself. Reread as objectively as you can, then polish your writing as much as possible so you submit your very best work.

    And because ten tips just aren’t enough:

  11. What made you laugh as a child? What made you cry? What made your heart beat faster?  Writing that makes the reader feel things is great!

  12. Good luck!