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Writing for children

Here you can find a comprehensive selection of articles relating to all the different aspects of writing for children - whether you want to write a picture book or you've got the next YA bestseller, we've got you covered.

10 Tips For Pitching Your Children's Non-Fiction Book

Isabel Thomas

Critically acclaimed science writer and children’s author Isabel Thomas offers 10 tips on how to pitch your children’s non-fiction book…

Children’s non-fiction is so much more than ‘books with facts’. It’s a different way to take readers on a journey that makes them laugh, cry, or …

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All about writing for children

Don't worry, you will not be subjected to a long ramble about my delightful progeny - another time perhaps.  Today I shall be talking about writing for children, writing about children, and writing as a child.

I'm currently doing some work with Louise Jordan of The Writers' Advice Centre

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An Interview with L.D. Lapinski

Ahead of her middle-grade fantasy debut, The Strangeworlds Travel Agency, being published by Orion Children's Books, we spoke to author L.D Lapinski about her writing process, world building on an epic scale, and the importance of writing incidentally-queer characters in children's fiction.

1. Can …

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An Introduction to Children's Non-Fiction

Linda Strachan, author of the Writers' & Artists' Guide to Writing for Children & YA, offers an introduction to writing children's non-fiction, and some things to consider before beginning your own children's non-fiction project...

Some writers are naturally drawn to non-fiction. …

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Bringing Animals To Life In Children's Fiction

I have a confession to make. My children’s book Cogheart contains a talking animal: a fox named Malkin. Some readers aren’t keen on talking animals in children’s books, and some agents have told me they downright dislike them. But I love a good talking animal in a children’s story, and with …

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Children's Writing In The Digital Age

Linda Strachan

New technology is changing the face of publishing and the digital impact on the children’s market is becoming increasingly evident. New creative opportunities for writers are arising to meet digital possibilities and writers today can self-publish their work more easily than ever before. …

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Creating a Book Plan for an Illustrated Children’s Non-Fiction Book

What is a book plan and what does it need to contain?

 A good book plan will typically include:   

● A list of the spreads and sections with an indication of what they will contain.  

● Sample – a visual example of the style and the look/feel. This might be split into …

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Creating A Children's Comic

Tom Fickling shares his passion and enthusiasm for the weekly comic, no longer a thing of the past but an exciting, cutting-edge technology with the ability to inspire a love of reading. He describes the reader-focused philosophy which drives the creativity of his team at The Phoenix.

It doesn’t …

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Creating Interesting Characters

Creating interesting characters is at the heart of any fiction writing. We read fiction to experience other people’s lives and discover more about the human condition, whether our interest lies in crime stories, romances or gritty realism. Even in hard-core science-fiction it’s the characters …

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Creative World Building

Image result for orphans of the tide

Debut author Struan Murray shares his top tips on creative world building...

Creating fantastical worlds is why I write. I love those initial moments where a world is freshly forming in your mind, when you can feel the flow of possibility — what does this world look like, what makes it unique and …

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Defying Gender Stereotypes in Children’s Literature

My young daughter is a child like any other – she reads books, she climbs trees, she digs about in dirt, she laughs at jokes about poo, and occasionally (when she’s been very good and only as a special treat, you understand) we watch cartoons together. There’s one she’s particularly partial …

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Drawing A Story

Salvatore Rubbino takes us through his process for putting together a picture book and where he draws inspiration from. 

Drawing Your Own Story

Books are a relatively simple technology but still hard to beat I think. They provide a wonderful container for ideas, words and pictures. …

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Fantasy World Building

Award-winning children's author Kieran Larwood shares his top tips on worldbuilding...

I thought it might be useful to describe the process I went through when I created the fantasy world of the Five Realms for my series of children’s books, so that other writers might avoid my mistakes, or maybe …

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Girls vs. boys: do we cater more for boys?

'The received wisdom', said the lady from the BBC at a recent meeting, 'is that girls will go to boy themes, but boys won’t go to girl themes.'

Yes, I’ve noticed that. Girls will happily watch Thomas The Tank Engine, but most boys won’t watch Angelina Ballerina. And it carries on …

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Historical Fiction Isn’t History, It’s Better

One Day In Oradour

In these days of tough competition, getting out there, being visible and promoting your books is an essential part of a writer’s job. More and more often, we leave behind the relative security of our desks and head out into the big, scary world of literary festivals, library talks, school visits …

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How To Adapt a Fairy Tale

I was walking into school one day and happened to notice a girl’s dress shoe lying on the side of the road.  It didn’t strike me as odd, being the Monday morning after the Homecoming dance, but something else stuck me instead—inspiration.  I knew immediately I was meant to write a …

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How To Create A Character

Most characters do not appear in your head fully formed; they develop gradually in much the same way as we get to know a new acquaintance. Sometimes we don’t see negative traits in people we meet until we know them better and discover, sometimes to our cost, that they are not as pleasant as …

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How To Create A Fantastic Picture Book

Emma Blackburn, editorial director for picture books at Bloomsbury Publishing, gives her top tips for getting started on your picture books.


Before you start your own picture book, take a look at some of the wonderful picture books that are available at your local library, …

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How To Think Like An Eight-Year-Old: Writing Children's Non-Fiction

Isabel Thomas

Critically acclaimed science writer and children’s author Isabel Thomas considers how to get into the mindset of an eight-year-old when you're working on a manuscript for children…

A certain mystique surrounds fiction writing, a romantic image of authors inspired only by the need to “sit …

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Including LGBT+ Characters in Children's Fiction

In this extract from the Children's Writers' & Artists' Yearbook, author Lauren James shares advice on how to promote inclusivity and avoid prejudices and stereotyping across all genres in fiction.

1. Don’t write books about the experience of being LGBT+ unless you are LGBT+ yourself

This …

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Interview with author Jennifer Killick

To celebrate the publication of Crater Lake, Jennifer Killick's latest book, we spoke to the author about her writing process and got some top tips on creating a cast of memorable characters as well as how to balance humour and horror in a story.

1. Could you tell us a little bit about your …

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National Trust Children's Book Festival: Celebrating Children's Fiction

Katie Bond is Publisher at the National Trust and previously worked as Publicity and Marketing Director at Bloomsbury. Ahead of the first National Trust Children's Book Festival in March, she explains the importance of bringing books alive for children to encourage and inspire them as the next …

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Picture books: pictures vs. words

What makes a picture book work well? The pictures or the words? Well, both, of course. But mainly the pictures… but there again, if there wasn’t a good story…

Some brilliant people can write good stories and draw wonderful pictures. Lucky them. Mostly, a relationship has to be struck up …

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Pitching a Children’s Non-Fiction Book: How Does the Process Work?

If you're writing a children's non-fiction book, there are two different processes; writing to a commission or submitting your own proposal. In this extract, Linda Strachan explains the difference.

Writing to a commission  

A commission is when a publisher will ask you to write a specific …

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Researching Your Children's Book

IRONHEART by Allan Boroughs

In this first instalment in a series of three articles for us on the importance of research when writing fiction, children's writer Allan Boroughs explores what can be learned from visiting and experiencing a place, rather than simply learning its facts. 

Part 1 – Going places 

It was …

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Researching Your Children's Book: Look it up

The third and final instalment in a series written by author Allan Boroughs on the importance of researching your children's book.

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series on researching your children’s novel, I looked at the benefits of travel as a spur to creativity and then how exploring other …

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Researching Your Children's Book: Make and Do

Allan Boroughs

In the second instalment in a series of three articles for us on the importance of research when writing fiction, children's writer Allan Boroughs discusses the other creative avenues you can explore - other than writing - when researching your manuscript.

Noam Chomsky said that the internet was an …

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Retelling Fairy Tales

When I was growing up, I was (and still am) a voracious reader. I loved nothing more than wandering through a strange new world full of magic, clever heroes and heroines, and fantastic creatures, and, of course, a good helping of adventure. Needless to say, fairy tales were a constant staple of my …

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Series Fiction: Writing As Part of A Team

In this extract from the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook, writer Lucy Courtenay spills the beans on the profitable world of series fiction, its fictional authors, the publishers and packagers that create and produce it...

One upon a time, a group of editors sat around a table, brainstorming ideas …

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Shedding the Sensible

Kate Wiseman

“I’d love to write a book, but….”

But what?   

… but I’m soo busy at work.

… but the kids need me.  I can’t do both.  Can I?

… but the hamster’s acting oddly and I’m too worried about it to even think about anything else.

There are as many excuses for delaying …

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Telling Stories Through the Eyes of a Child

1. For those who don’t know, could you tell us about your debut book The Boy at the Back of the Class?

The Boy at the Back of the Class is essentially a tale about the friendship forged between two children: the nine-year-old narrator, and the mysterious, pale, silent boy who suddenly joins their …

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The Secret Plan Of Your Story

There’s a lot of confusion about plot. It’s a word that’s often used inter-changeably with other terms to describe aspects of storytelling, such as storyline or narrative. But the word plot is a technical term, and we should use it to describe something specific. And the easiest way to …

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The Six C's Of Your Story

 Writers' & Artists' Guide to Writing for Children and YA - Writers' and Artists' (Paperback)

Consider the six Cs of your story: 

1. Conflict. At the simplest level this could be different answers to a question, ideally posed at the beginning. You may have conflict between your characters either because of their personalities or what they want from a situation. At …

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Top Tips For Getting Your Picture Book Published

People who work with children aren't usually considered to be less skilful than those who do the same work with adults, so why then is the opposite so often assumed to be true of the adults who create books for children? At worst, it is thought we must be childish or that it is easier to create …

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WANTED – A New Category in Children’s Books

The Tragickall History of Henry Fowst

There’s no shortage of advice for new writers. Mostly it’s good and – crucially for the bewildered punter – undisputed. This is particularly true of the many Rules for Good Writing you can find on countless websites, all agreeing on the vital ingredients of structure, narrative arc, …

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Wellbeing for Writers

Strength in numbers: writers’ groups

Writing is both a privilege and a challenge. Being lonely or feeling isolated can get you down, and all too often it’s hard to feel you’re making progress. You may feel you need some personal advice on your writing or a way to get feedback on your …

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What Is Writing For Children?

What distinguishes writing for children from other kinds of writing? Many people think it involves writing about children or childhood, and most good children’s writing does feature both in some way. And of course, there’s a clue in the phrase itself – writing for children – in one sense …

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What It Takes To Write A Picture Book

Very simple

I’m going to say something very simple. Here goes: 

Picture books are 5-800 words long. They have twelve double page spreads. Max 13.

For me, that simple nugget of information was exactly what I needed to get properly started as a picture book children’s author. Up until that …

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Who’s Out There? Finding Your Audience

Yvonne Coppard

Yvonne Coppard, author and creative writing teacher, shares her advice on writing for children and discusses the importance of knowing your audience.

You have reached the final draft of your children’s book when someone asks what age you are writing for. What do you answer?

  • I don’t really know …

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Why Are Orphan Heroes Such Compelling Protagonists In Children’s Literature?

When I started writing the Nat Walker series my hero, Nat, was an only child living in a nuclear family. Her parents led successful lives, and gave her a warm, happy family environment. In addition, she had a mentor - a wise, old man.

In the early chapter drafts of Crimson Poison I kept heading …

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Writing a Children's Series

Gym Stars

Writing advice is a difficult thing to give; what works for one person won’t necessarily work for anyone else. When I was writing my Gym Stars series, I read lots of articles and blog posts giving advice on what to do, what not to do, how to approach agents, how to write for children and a …

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Writing A Picture Book

In this exclusive extract from the new edition of the Guide to Writing for Children & YA, author Linda Strachan discusses the ins and outs of picture books. 

A common misconception is that a picture book is the easiest to write because it has so few words and a lot of lovely images. It …

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Writing and the Children's Book Market

Around 10,000 new children’s titles are published in the UK every year. Chris Kloet, Editor-at-Large at Walker Books, suggests how a potential author can best ensure that their work reaches the bookshop shelves.

The profile of children’s books has never been higher, yet it can be difficult for …

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Writing Children’s Education Books: How To Write To A Brief

How do you write to brief for an educational book?

For educational books, a publisher's brief stage or level will always tie in with the age of the children, their reading ability and recognised levels within the curriculum. 

A publisher’s brief for a new educational series generally consists …

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Writing Comic Fiction For Children


Articles and books about how to write for children always start with (or include) that gnarly nugget ‘read some children’s books’ and this one is no different. If you want to find success then you need to know about the kinds of things that are successful, and it will help you a lot if you …

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Writing for Boys AND Girls

Black Lotus

We’ve all read the ‘How to Write for Boys’ and ‘Writing for Girls’ articles, but what if you don’t want to exclude half your potential readership by writing only ‘for boys’, or only ‘for girls’? Of course, there are many books which span the boy/girl divide like Harry Potter and …

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Writing for Children

Many people have what they consider to be brilliant ideas for children’s books but have no experience of writing. But lack of experience need not get in the way of bringing an idea to fruition as there is guidance available in the form of courses. Alison Sage demystifies what happens on a …

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Writing for children's theatre

Writing plays for children is not a soft option. David Wood considers children to be the most difficult audience to write for and shares his thoughts here about this challenge.

‘Would you write the Christmas play?’ These six words, uttered by John Hole, Director of the Swan Theatre, …

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Writing for Children: Getting Started

Alison Stanley gives the benefit of her experience for success in the expanding children's market.

To help you on your way, here are ten top tips:

1. Read, read, read

• Read as many children’s books as you can – picture books, young fiction, novels, teen reads, non-fiction, …

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Writing For Children: Letting Your Imagination Fly

Lucy Courtenay, author and guest tutor on our children's writing course Your Children's Book discusses writing for children...

‘A parent saw a child drawing a horse, and it was purple. The parent asked the child, “Why are you drawing a purple horse? I’ve never seen purple horses.” …

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Writing for Reluctant Readers

What is a ‘reluctant’ reader?


Various terms are used when describing children who find reading difficult or who are unable to read at the levels that are generally recognised to be the accepted norm for their age. The term ‘reluctant readers’ is used for ease, although they are not always …

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Writing for Younger Readers & Chapter Books

In this exclusive extract from the new edition of the Guide to Writing for Children & YA, author Linda Strachan discusses writing for younger readers and chapter books, as well as some brilliant book recommendations  for various age groups.

What kind of book do you want to write? Who …

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Writing genre fiction for children

Malorie Blackman looks at the different genres of children’s books with a view to helping writers decide what kind of story they could write.

Take a trip to your local library or bookshop and peruse the children’s section. (Also check out the books for young adults.) The books will …

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Writing Middle Grade

In this exclusive extract from the new edition of Writers' & Artists' Guide To Writing for Children & YA, Linda Strachan - author of over 70 books - offers some things to consider if you're a writer looking to break into the Middle Grade market. 

Middle grade is a term that relates to …

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Writing poetry for children

Riding on the poetry roundabout

Poet and anthologist John Foster writes about the difficulties involved in getting children’s poetry published and offers some practical advice.

Today’s children’s poetry roundabout started spinning in the 1960s, when it was given a push-start by …

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Writing The Villain

Children's author Judith Eagle discusses her top tips on creating brilliant villains. 

*This article may contain some light spoilers for Judith's books*

As a ten year old, my first writing forays were inspired by Herr Grundeis, the villain in Erich Kastner’s 1929 novel Emil and the Detectives. …

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