Sunday, December 26, 2010

3 Basic Tools - Learning to Write For Children, by Karen Cioffi

We all know how difficult it is to break into the business of writing for children. Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, it is a tough business and can be overwhelming for those just starting out. While all writing must adhere to certain guidelines, writing for children has additional principles unique to its genre.

To start, the words used in children's writing must be age appropriate. This may sound easy to do, but it can be a difficult task. There are also certain techniques and tricks used specifically in writing for children, such as the Core of Three, sentence structure, and the timeframe in which the story should occur when writing for young children. In addition, it's essential to make sure your conflicts, storyline, and point of view are appropriate for the age group you're writing for.

Along with this, there are general techniques for writing, such as adding sensory details, showing instead of telling, and creating an engaging story that hooks the reader right away, along with great dialogue and correct punctuation.

This is just the beginning though, there is also the business of editing your work, writing a winning query, and following submission guidelines; the list goes on and on.

But, don't get discouraged, there is help. Here are three basic tools to get you started and guide you down the children's writing path:

1. Children's Writer's WORD BOOK by Alijandra Mogilner is a great resource that provides word lists grouped by grades along with a thesaurus of listed words. This allows you to check a word in question to make sure it is appropriate for the age group you're writing for. It also provides reading levels for synonyms. It's a very useful tool and one that I use over and over.

2. Tricks of the Trade: Learn to Write for Children in Just 6 Weeks! e-course by the Children's Writer's Coaching Club creator and director, Suzanne Lieurance, is a gem for learning the ins and outs of writing for children. I have just about finished this course and can say with confidence that it's worth every penny. It's jammed packed with practical, easy to understand, and detailed information. It answers your questions and provides the necessary tools, tips and advice to guide you from the basics of writing for children (books and freelancing) to queries, submissions, networking and more.

The e-course has 6 individual lessons to get you on the road to writing for children and working toward having your work published. Each lesson has three parts with assignments and additional resources.

The Trick of the Trade e-course also includes a 2 month membership in the Children's Writers' Coaching Club. With this membership you have the opportunity to have your assignments professionally reviewed and critiqued by Lieurance or another published children's author on staff at the National Writing for Children Center each week. Lieurance is also including, as a special bonus, 4 additional instructional CDs with tips for freelance writers. With these perks this e-course package is a bargain.

Suzanne Lieurance has created a purposeful 'writing for children' road map. This road map eliminates any guess work or doubt - it provides step-by-step guided instructions to get you where you're heading. Tricks of the Trade: You Can Learn to Write for Children in Just 6 Weeks! is a phenomenal writing navigational tool - it offers top notch writing instruction and guidance.

3. The Frugal Editor by award winning author and editor, Carolyn Howard-Johnson, is a useful book for any writing genre, including children's. It is great resource that guides you through basic editing, to getting the most out of your Word program's features, to providing samples of queries. The author provides great tips and advice that will have you saying, "Ah, so that's how it's done."

I've invested in a number of books, courses and programs in writing and marketing, and know value when I see it; these products have a great deal of value for you as a writer, and they are definitely worth the cost.

I consider these three resources essential tools in my children's writing tool belt. But, the most important aspect of creating a writing career is to actually begin. Remember, you can't succeed if you don't try. It takes that first step to start your journey, and that first step seems to be a huge stumbling block for many of us. Don't let procrastination or fear stop you from moving forward - start writing today!

Karen Cioffi is a freelance writer and co-author of the bedtime picture book, Day's End Lullaby. She is part of the team at DKV Writing 4 U, and is the creator and moderator of the yahoo group VBT - Writers on the Move. This group consists of authors and writers who help promote one another through virtual book tours and other useful strategies. Karen is also a reviewer for, and a co-moderator of a Yahoo children's writing critique group. For helpful tips about writing, marketing, self-publishing and much more please visit:

If you'd like to learn more about the many affordable writing and website services offered at DKV Writing 4 U please visit:

1 comment:

Karen Cioffi said...

Thanks for featuring my article!