01/12/2014

How to Write for Children (by Louise Jordan)


I don’t remember where this book came from. I know nothing about Louise Jordan and she doesn't seem to have a website. Perhaps this was recommended to me by Amazon, or maybe it was a suggestion from a Facebook friend. Whatever the reason, when I’d started to write a children’s story, I acquired this book.

‘How to write for children’ is subtitled ‘- and get published’. A bold claim, but one that was quite appealing. I started reading it a couple of years ago; the introduction summarised what the book was about, and the importance of the children’s market for writers.

I then moved on to the important section ‘Know your market’. This is quite tight these days, I was told, with many commissioned books, and the majority of children’s fiction having to fit within predefined styles or lengths, to fit with series designed for specific age groups or reading levels.

Since none of these appeared to fit with what I had written, I felt quite discouraged and put the book (and my writing) aside for a while.

Some weeks ago I picked it up again and thought I’d read it through anyway. I re-read the opening chapters, did one or two of the writing exercises, and then continued through the book.

Most of it is general advice about writing, which wasn’t new to me, although it was interesting to read examples from published children’s books to illustrate points: the importance of the viewpoint character, for instance, and the kind of subject matter that can be used with children’s books, both fiction and non-fiction.

While I didn’t learn anything new, it’s a well-presented book, clearly written, with plenty of solid advice. The final section, on submitting a manuscript to a publisher or agent and discussing contracts is one that I skimmed but would certainly return to if, at some point, I reach this stage.

Definitely recommended to anyone considering writing a children’s book, whether a picture book for babies or a novel for teens, or anything in between.

Review by copyright 2014 Sue's Book Reviews

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