Children’s Fiction. What is it?
Children’s fiction is perhaps the most interesting and most challenging genre in literature. A good children’s fiction work has to be intriguing enough to capture the attention of younger readers, and it has to be magical enough to ensure that they keep turning the pages.
Through my years of experience as an editor, I have worked on and helped develop countless successful children’s fiction short stories and novels. I have certainly learned a lot about this genre as a result, and in this article, I will share some tips and tricks with you on how you should write children’s fiction and the defining factors that will make your book stand out. Keep on reading to find out more.
Writing children’s fiction can be very challenging, and it can be equally easy. The difference is that you need to know what you are doing. With a little guidance and help along the way, you can write something that millions of children around the world will adore. Before we get started, I want to tell you what you are going to learn from this article:
- Generating a concept that will work for children’s fiction
- Creating the main character that children can resonate with
- What should be the right length?
- Revising your draft
- Finding the right editor
I hope that by the end of this article you will have more knowledge about how you can write a successful children’s fiction book. If you feel like you have a story that children all around the world will adore, then you can opt for my comprehensive edit service. I can be your guiding hand through the whole process and make your book a success. Let’s get into how to write Children’s Fiction.
What is your best idea?
The reason why you are investing your time and effort into learning about writing children’s fiction is probably that you have an idea, right? I hate to break it to you, but your idea is in very rough shape right now. You might think that you have it figured out, but you probably haven’t!
The concept of a book serves as the foundation upon which everything will be built. It needs to be strong, clear, and tangible. Before you do anything else, you need to refine your idea as much as you possibly can. You need it to be in a state where you can touch, smell and feel it. When you think about it, there should be a vivid and detailed picture in your mind.
Here is how you can start to refine your idea:
- Squeeze out the essence of your whole idea into one line and Google that line in the context of children’s fiction.
- You will come across books that are based on ideas similar to the one you have. Read the summaries of these books.
- Try to find out what makes your idea different or similar to the books that you have found.
Is your idea already out there?
This might seem like common sense to you, but there are plenty of writers out there who do not check the existing body of work before investing their time and effort into an idea. There is a strong chance that your idea will have already been written about by someone else. And that is not at all a bad thing; if anything, it is proof of a concept the children are interested in it. Even if the general idea is the same when you write it, it will become unique because of the different lens that you are viewing it through. If you find there are too many similarities, you can always add a unique twist to truly make the story your own.
How to define your children’s fiction characters
To be honest with you, I edit many children’s books every year, given my line of work. One thing that I have noticed is that the best books always have a solid and unique main character. They have a few features that define them and set them apart from everyone else in the story. This is crucial to develop a feeling of fondness for your main character. You want the children reading the book to like the main character since the story is going to revolve around that character, and everything that happens in your book will be linked to this one character.
Create a memorable protagonist
Your main character can be funny; maybe they look different than everyone else in the story, or perhaps they have a particular way of talking that differentiates them. The point is you have to develop the main character carefully and with thought. There is a process that I have come up with to judge the quality of the main character of a children’s book. You can use this to evaluate your main character and see how much gravitas they hold. You will have to answer the following questions about your main character and then assess them objectively.
- What is the central/driving desire of your main character?
- What are their worst and best habits?
- Is your main character an introvert or an extrovert?
- Can you imagine the voice of your main character? Does it differentiate them from everyone else in your story?
- Does your main character have self-doubt, or are they overly brave?
- What is the source of your main character’s happiness?
- Does your main character have any secrets that they are hiding?
- What is something about your main character that other people in your story despise?
If you can answer 80% or more of these questions, then you have a unique and well-developed main character. If you can answer 60% of the questions, then your character needs some more development. If you can only answer 40% of the questions listed above, then you need to sit down and think about your main character. It is still a work in progress. In my comprehensive edit, I do an in-depth character analysis and help the writers polish the characters in their story. You can check what I do and how I do it by clicking here.
What is the ideal length for Children’s Fiction?
This is an essential question that you need to figure out before you start writing. You have to keep in mind that you are writing for children here. In my experience, new writers tend to often get the length of the book wrong. To understand the ideal word count for your book, you first have to identify your target audience. What is the age group that you are looking to target?
If you want children aged 5-10 to read your book, then the word count should not exceed 10,000 words. If you are looking to target children aged 12 and above, then your book can be up to 30,000 words. It all depends on the age group and your personal preference.
One piece of advice that I have for everyone that wants to write children’s fiction is that no matter what, do not try to drag the story out. You want to keep your story engaging and interesting. If you feel like you have said what you wanted to say, then that is good enough. You can leave the rest to the editor. It is their job to trim the fat or suggest where you would need to elaborate on things.
Revise your children’s fiction draft!
It is very common for books to get rejected by publishers for being far too wordy or long, especially in the children’s fiction genre. So, you need to be very careful when you are revising your draft. A simple strategy to trim and polish your work is to read every line and decide whether it is essential to the story or not. The idea is simple. Read a line and ask yourself, if this line is not in the book would your story make sense? If the answer is yes, then delete that line.
You will also need to stay as objective as possible during this process. You might get attached to certain scenes in your story and might hesitate to get rid of them, but you have to be mindful that at the end of the day, you are writing for an audience, and you need to present a draft to the publishers that have a higher chance of being accepted.
This is also the part where an experienced editor comes in very handy. You don’t want someone who has no experience in editing children’s fiction messing with your book. An experienced editor will be able to help you improve, since they have a deep knowledge of the genre and know what will work and what will not.
Who will be the right editor for you?
Writers often think that once they have written the first draft, the hard part is over. It couldn’t be any further from the truth. The hard part begins once you are done writing. Now, the challenge is to find the right editor who can help make your book ready for publishers. An editor is an expert giving you their professional opinion on your work along with helpful suggestions that might improve it.
While you as a writer are focused on writing something that you love, it is the job of the editor to ensure that the readers also love what you have written. So, choosing the right editor is very important for your book. Here is a checklist that might help you find the right editor for your book:
- The editor should have sufficient knowledge of the industry and relevant experience.
- They should have published children’s fiction work that they can show you.
- Testimonials from writers they have worked with previously.
These are the main things you need to keep in mind when you start to search for an editor. You do not want to take a chance with someone who is just starting out. They might cost you less, but in the long run, they might cost you your book. It is best to go with someone who knows what they are doing.
If you are interested in hiring me as your editor, you can check out my portfolio.
Does everyone have a story to tell?
Okay, so there you have it. This is how you should write children’s fiction. I hope that you find the information here helpful and write a great children’s book.
Before I leave you, I have one more thing to say to any aspiring writers that might be reading this. Everyone has a story to tell. It will be a tragedy if you leave your story untold. So, whatever fears or insecurities you might have about writing, set them aside. Take a deep breath and write the first line. The first line is always the hardest—best of luck.