This is an interactive Story software example file that has been published on the web.
How To Write Children’s Stories
by Maria Z.
Writing for children requires a whole lot of imagination and thinking outside the box. There is much more to children’s literature than mere nursery rhymes.
While many children’s books out there seem simple to write, the canon of this genre proves that children’s and kid’s stories are getting much more sophisticated.
Popular children’s authors include Dr. Seuss, Enid Blyton, R.L. Stine and Roald Dahl. While JK Rowling’s hugely successful Harry Potter series started off as children’s literature, its readership spread to adults and was categorised under a different genre altogether. There are adult versions of some of these books.
Where To Start
• What is inspiring you to write?
Do you have a vivid memory of a colourful childhood that you wish to share with your young readers? Do you want to write a story based on one of your own personal favourite stories? Or perhaps you have a mythical bedtime story that your parents used to tell you?
• Which age group are your target readers in?
There are different levels of reading proficiency in different age groups, so make sure you identify them and prepare your diction and overall content appropriately.
Do you plan to write a didactic-themed (educational) story, or would you rather just write to entertain? Most of the time, books with lengthier chapters are more suitable for children aged 9 and above. Young adult fiction is for pre-teens and teenagers (13-19 years old).
• Choose a format.
Will it be in verse-form or a short story? Will it have many chapters and will it have illustrations too?
• Choose a setting that would appeal to children.
A popular concept of children’s stories is sending the protagonist into a different world (like Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum).
• These alternate worlds contain extraordinary creatures and characters as well as unusual scenery and strange local habits (like playing croquet with flamingos in Alice in Wonderland).
• Create a unique setting that captivates your readers.
Young readers are very impressionable, so presenting them with a setting they won’t forget helps keep your story interesting.
• Your characters should be within the subgenre you choose.
Sorcerers, elves and fairies belong to the fantasy subgenre; wolf stories, ghouls, mediums and demons belong in the horror subgenre; and so on so forth.
• Anthropomorphism is very popular in children’s books.
This is when animals or non-living objects (basically anything non-human) are given humanly characteristics. Famous anthropomorphic characters include any children’s wolf stories, Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit and Aslan, the lion in C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia.
• Are you writing this with a particular message in mind?
Use the characters thoughts, actions and dialogue to portray themes or moral values.
• Make your characters stand out.
It is common in children’s literature for certain characters to have significantly different ways of presenting themselves. Repetition of certain actions or speech is normal and creates character familiarisation for the reader.
To quote the Scouts, ‘Keep It Simple, Make It Fun’. Most children’s stories do not have remarkably complex plots. Stories like Alice In Wonderland seem to have very vague, wandering plots. This is made up for by a series of bizarre and exciting scenes filled with nonsensical occurrences and amusing poems.
• Gauge by the age group of your target audience.
The older you expect your readers to be, the more elaborate your plot can be.
• Multiple endings?
Some children’s books offer more than one ending. Books like the Goosebumps ‘Choose Your Own Nightmare’ series by R.L. Stine even let the reader decide their own fate, with the stories using the reader as the main character. This adds excitement and involvement to the reading experience.
In adult fiction this is known as non-linear narrative.