Step-by-Step Guide for Adults
publishing is a fiercely competitive market. People interested in
writing for children sometimes get caught up in looking at trends and
trying to figure out what publishers want. I believe this is the wrong
approach. If you want to write for children, here are some suggestions
that really will help. It's best to read through this guide from the
beginning but if you have a special concern, you can click on one of
the topics below and go directly to that section. If you are
interested in children's picture books, you can read my article, "What
To Do With a Picture Book Manuscript" which was written for
Word, the newsletter of the Writers' Alliance
of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Read the Type of Books You Want to Write
surprising number of people interested in writing for children don't
read children's books. This is a mistake. Make friends with your local
children's librarian or children's book seller and read what she
recommends. Notice what you like and what seems to work. Pay attention
to the writing.
don't have access to a children's library or book store, look at some
recommended reading lists. For for a
number of years, I ran a book
club I ran out of Granny Bates Book Store in St. John's. Here are links
Reading List for 2001, and a Summer
Reading for 2004, put together with suggestions from young
readers in the group.
Children's Book Centre's annual Our Choice booklet lists books that
juries of children's literature professionals have judged to be the
best each year. To find out more, click on the link above, then click
on the "Our Choice" option in the sidebar menu.
not get feedback from a professional editor for quite a while. There
are two main ways to learn about writing in the meantime: through books
about writing and by workshopping your material. Don't underestimate
the value of books.
Books About the Craft of Writing
are some books about the technical aspects of writing that I recommend
Forster, Aspects of the
Novel, Harcourt, Brace and Company.
Gardner, The Art of
Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers, Vintage Books,
Random House, 1983. A book for adults in spite of the subtitle.
Hodgins, A Passion for
Narrative: A Guide for Writing Fiction, McClelland
& Stewart, 1993.
David Madden, Revising
Fiction: A Handbook For Writers, Plume/Penguin,
1988. Find this book even if it's out of print.
Books About Other Aspects of Writing
books deal with important background issues such as why we write and
how to keep writing when the work seems discouraging.
Ray Bradbury, Zen in
the Art of Writing, Bantam Doubleday, 1992.
Friedman, Writing Past
Dark: Envy, Fear, Distraction and Other Dilemmas in the Writer's Life,
Lamott, Bird by Bird:
Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Doubleday,
live near a university or college, find out if they offer writing
workshops. Some will be about writing for children specifically, but
any writing workshop is a good idea if you're just beginning. If you
want to write picture books, consider taking a poetry course if nothing
else is available. Good picture book writing is like poetry in many
short-term workshops are helpful to writers who have gained some
experience. Most will require you to submit work in advance, and only
accept those writers who seem most likely to benefit from advanced
Atlantic Canada, the University of New Brunswick runs the Maritime
summer, with a section on children's writing taught by a leading
Canadian children's writer.
find out more, click on the link above, go into "Workshops and
Conferences" and click on Maritime Writers' Workshop.
Western Canada, Saskatchewan's Sage Hill
Writing Experience is one of the most respected workshops in
Canada. It sometimes has a special section devoted to writing for
In Toronto, Humber College has been running an intensive summer Writing
for Children program for the past few years.
you develop confidence in your skills, you may wish to enter
competitions. The Writers' Union of Canada runs an annual
Writing for Children competition for unpublished writers.
With a maximum limit of 1500 words, this is mainly for those working on
Writers' and Other Support Organizations
organizations provide encouragement, advice and support for both
experienced and developing writers. Many provincial writers
organization accept members who are not published in book form. To find
your provincial writers' organization, visit Wordwright Canada's Provincial
Writers Organizations page.
children's writers, one of the most important organizations is CANSCAIP,
the Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators and
Performers. CANSCAIP has a "friends" membership category for developing
writers and supporters of children's literature and performance arts.
To find out about joining, visit the CANSCAIP's "Join Us"
can become a member of the Canadian
Children's Book Centre,
and everyone interested in writing for children should. Membership
gives you the newsletter, "Canadian Children's Book News," and a free
copy of the annual Our Choice booklet. To find out more, visit the
looking for feedback on your work, The Writers' Union of Canada offers
a manuscript evaluation service that provides assessment of a
professional writer working in your genre. You don't have to be a
member to avail of this service
and you will be given a detailed critique. To find out more, visit
Evaluation Service page.
Provincial writers organizations' manuscript evaluation
may be limited to members. The Writers Alliance of Newfoundland and
Labrador offers a Manuscript
Evaluation service to members. These services are subject to
feel your work is ready to be considered for publication, the Canadian
Children's Book Centre sells a kit called Get Published: The Writing
for Children Kit for $14.95. It contains useful tips for authors and
illustrators, a list of Canadian publishers currently accepting
manuscripts and other helpful advice. To find it, go to the CCBC store
and click on "Get Published.