Sunday, 17 March 2013

Doing it: N M Browne

The other day I was asked for my do’s and don’ts when writing for children. I resisted, with difficulty, the obvious reply - don’t write for children (or at least not if you seek an easy, lucrative living) and attempted to say something sensible. It was more difficult than I thought. So off the top of my head:

Don’t patronise your readers - children are demanding readers and hate being patronised as much as I do. They will notice if a plot doesn’t make sense, and being cute is no substitute for being entertaining.
Do think about the age of your would be readers and their interests. 
Don’t make your sentences too long, your language too complex and don’t try to show off. Delete any beautiful sentences that stand out - chances are they belong to another book.
Do write vividly and clearly.
Don’t summarise events too much and get lost in your characters' heads.
Do dramatise as much as you can ( ie show don’t tell, but I hate that phrase.)
Don’t write stereotypyes
Do write compelling characters (though that one is a bit hard to define.)
Don’t expect to be the next JK Rowling/Stephanie Meyer/ random multimillionaire writer.
Do enjoy what you do because if you don’t there is very little point
What would yours be?


Penny Dolan said...

Good points, though I am glad not to have had to think them up on the spot. And a nice image too.

Pippa Goodhart said...

Do enjoy the writing and get enthused by it because that will come across in the reading of it.

Linda Strachan said...

DO keep the reader desperate to turn the page and find out what happens next

DO edit out all the boring bits! If they are not moving the story on, take them out.

A Wilson said...

These are great tips. And I agree with Pippa and Linda! The one thing people always assume is that I want to be the "next J K Rowling". In the words of fellow author, Michelle Robinson, I like to say "No, I want to be the first me."