Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Questions about writing #2 - Writing for 'children'

I have several times been send queries by email from my website and when I try to reply these have bounced. One such came in recently from a lady called Jacqueline who is writing a 'children's story'.  If you read this Jacqueline, please email me again!

One thing that always worries me when someone says they have written a 'children's story' is that this is such a 'catch all' that it tells me almost nothing.  The first question that comes to mind is who is this story for?  Children require different books at different ages  and the books they want are quite different in concept.  For example -

A space story could be a picture book perhaps something like Stella to Earth by Simon Puttock

or Simon Bartram's stories about Bob (the man on the moon) such as Bob and the Disappearing Moon

For older children a short novel  is more their kind of book - a space adventure story like Theresa Breslin's    Alien Force.

So if you are thinking of writing for children, or have written a book or a short story for 'children' please go back and think about who it is for and what kind of book that child will be wanting to read or have read to them.  See which publishers publish which kind of books so that you are informed about the market.

If you want to get your story published you do need to know what kind of books are being published NOW for children today. Don't rely on what you might remember about when you were a child but go to the bookshops and look at the books. Read them and see how long they are, if there are pictures, and the way the story is told. Find out where your story fits in generally.

After that you may have to change your ideas or the way your story is told and don't mistake a shorter book or a picture book for being one that is easier to write. Usually the fewer words there are, the harder you have to work to get it right.

If you do all these things there is still no guarantee that you will be published, no one has the right to expect a publisher to put out money to publish and promote a book unless they believe it will sell enough to make more than it cost them - that is only common sense!

My best advice is  - be professional, get to know the market and make it the best you can.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Giveaway - Win a free copy of Dead Boy Talking

Over on  The Bookette  there are 5 copies of DEAD BOY TALKING to be won.  The giveaway is open internationally until 26th July 2010. Thank you, Becky!

On the same site see a great  REVIEW of Dead Boy Talking 

and my guest post The Long and the Short of it  discusses whether you want a long book or a short book and does it make a difference?

Sunday, 4 July 2010

The Arvon magic

Snuggling into rolling hills, away from the cares of the world, Moniack Mhor in Inverness-shire is the most northerly Arvon residential writing centre.  I'm just back from tutoring a course on Writing for Children with Cathy MacPhail.

I love the atmosphere at the Arvon centres,  the air seems to buzz with creative ideas. Perhpas it is something to do with being so remote and far from the interruptions of our normal lives, no television, away from emails and the internet and amongst like-minded people who are all there to write.
Cathy and I had the tutor  rooms, in the cottage, overlooking the wonderful view.

Midweek our guest speaker was Kathryn Ross from Fraser Ross Associates who talked about the job of a literary agent. She gave the students lots of useful information and they grilled her all evening - with lots of interesting questions.

Our 16 students were keen and worked very hard over the week producing work that was at times quite dark but at others you could probably have heard the peals of laughter for miles around.

There were moments of sheer delight as they read the results of their 'homework' exercises with tales of fantasy, adventures, sadness and love.


                                  Taking a break  in the kitchen between sessions.


 an intense debate 

                                                                                      Discussing a class exercise

At the last session they excelled themselves and we even had one hilarious story about a rather disgruntled spider with literary aspirations who had secretly joined our group and fallen in love, only to find it was unrequited!

Well done everyone - for working so hard and thank you for being such good company.