What I Learned by… Writing A Children’s Book
1. Know your strong points and play on them. In a children’s book, you don’t want to spend hundreds of pages setting up more subplots than you could keep up with. You have one immediate story and possibly one subplot that you’ll keep up with throughout the series. You need to keep your writing simple and direct. For me, that meant evaluating my own strengths and weaknesses in writing, and using those as a compass. My personal strong points needed to be built up to their best potential–mystery, building suspense and adding surprises when least expected. At the same time, I decided to ignore my weaker points, sometimes completely–adult logic, continuity, and likelihood of my coincidences actually happening. It was intimidating and at times counter-intuitive, but it turned into one of the best pieces of writing I’ve ever produced because I was focusing on all the areas where my writing was already strong, and making them excellent.
3. Remember to have fun. When you’re writing a kids’ book, you can’t afford to have any boring sections at all. You need to keep things exciting, mysterious, or at least mildly humorous. You need to keep it moving. Whenever I got to an important scene, I would do something to make it more fun to write (and read) than I had planned initially. Sometimes that meant letting the villain tell a snarky joke, or a sudden twist in the plot that shifted things just enough to make it interesting again. It was a delightfully fun experience throughout the book, and it taught me that there is really no excuse for boring-ness in a novel.
Writing my first kids’ book forced me to take my writing to a smaller and more direct scale, which made me take an approach more akin to storytelling than to novel writing. It was a terrific experience, and I’ll definitely be writing more in the upcoming future. I recommend it, and come back next week for my next “What I Learned by…” article!