Today we’re hosting Day 4 of a 5-day virtual tour for Joan Leotta’s new children’s book, Summer in a Bowl.
This tour is sponsored by the National Writing for Children Center.
In today’s post, Joan offers some personal tips for other children’s writers.
Tips for Children’s Writers
The first thing I want to say about writing for children is that it is the most difficult and most rewarding type of writing I do—fiction, non-fiction, poems, and more.
Writing for children is a high honor.
It is the most difficult writing that I do because it requires the most thought about the audience.
I have to think not only about the book I want to produce (or poem or story when performing) but measure how each word and thought will react with those developing eager little minds and hearts that receive it.
Yes, I consider audience when I write for adults, but rarely , except for poetry , is the emotional impact of my writing going to become a part of how their lives develop, affect their emotional and sometimes even intellectual development.
All of that responsibility does, however, fall on a children’s writer and performer.
I have thirty years of working with children ages 2-and up as a performer.
When performing I see the effect of each word as it reaches across time and space into the hearts and minds of my listeners.
As a writer for children, I have to imagine all of that.
So, if you still want to write for children, welcome, and let me offer you these practical tips to get you started.
1. Join SCBWI, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. They give tips and traning on writing and illustration technique and selling. It’s a wonderful supportive community with regional chapters.
2. Read children’s books in the genres you like and want to write in. Some writers call this reading “mentor texts”. Study those texts that are doing a similar thing as you plan to do—not to copy them, but to learn the winning approach and the how of the craft(number of lines per page, relationship of rhyme to theme, if any rhyme, use of images, number of words, etc).
3. Spend time with children and when thinking about your own childhood, try to recall not only the incidents, but how you felt at each moment in that memory.
4. Never talk down to children.
5. Make anything you do for children your very best work.
6. When you submit, follow the publisher’s guidelines.
7. If you are looking for an agent, follow that agency’s guidelines when sending in your work for consideration.
8. Don’t let rejections get under your skin.
9. Remember, editors are there to help you.
To follow each day of this tour, get the links at the National Writing for Children Center.