Writing for Children Course

Writing for Children Course Syllabus Content

The Writing for Children Course Modules

1. Your future as a children's writer

  • How to get started.
  • Writing methods.
  • Your work place
  • Your writing regime/routine. Self discipline.
  • Organising your notes and research
  • Dealing with writer's block
  • Handling criticism
  • Saving and storing your work
  • Copyright
  • Pen names
  • Joining a writing group

2. Knowing your reader. Who are you writing for?

  • Which age group are you most comfortable writing for?
  • Board books: Newborn -3
  • Picture books 3-8
  • Early, leveled readers 5-9
  • First Chapter books 6-10
  • Middle grade books 8-12
  • Young adult 12 and up
  • Short stories
  • Determine your age group
  • Keeping your story age appropriate
  • Developmental and reading age
  • Current culture and fashion

3. Planning your story

  • Choosing a title.
  • How long will your story be?
  • Researching your market.
  • What are possible problems or situations that can be included throughout your story?
  • What are possible solutions for your problems or situations?
  • What can children this age understand in terms of structure?
  • What is the setting of your story?
  • When does your story take place?
  • How to map your story. Define your beginning/middle/end.
  • Who's point of view is the story written from?
  • Is your story fiction or non-fiction?
  • Finding your voice.
  • Where does chapter 1 start? Going backwards and forwards.

4. Choosing your characters

  • Who's voice is telling the story?
  • What is the mood for the story?
  • How to reveal character.
  • Characters' names
  • What is the age of your main characters?
  • How does your main character know the other characters in your story?
  • Can your readers relate to your characters?
  • What characteristics make each of your characters unique?
  • What do your characters look like?
  • Characters distinct mannerisms
  • How one character stands out from the others.
  • How the main character grows.
  • Motivations. The seven deadly sins. Seven virtues. Character flaws. The Greek tragic hero.

5. Developing your protagonist and antagonist

  • Credible villains and heroes
  • What choices will your protagonist have to make?
  • What past experiences make your protagonist make the choices they make?
  • How might your protagonist react to their struggles or challenges?
  • What strengths and weaknesses do your protagonist and antagonist have?
  • Do your protagonist and antagonist have any super powers or abilities? How might they discover and then develop them?
  • Secondary characters
  • What role will parents and adults have, if any?

6. Creating a good flow

  • Introduce your characters.
  • Describe without listing.
  • Show, don't tell.
  • Active versus passive tense
  • Build a foundation for your plot.
  • Keeping the action exciting.
  • Psychology. Transactional analysis. Games people play. NLP.
  • Changing the pace.
  • When to use dialogue.
  • Keep your dialogue age appropriate.
  • Don't talk at your readers.
  • Ignite plot with a catalyst.
  • Emotional intensity
  • Does your plot have a subplot?
  • Create a powerful and definitive ending.

7. Planning your Plot

  • What is a plot?
  • Sub plots.
  • Spider diagrams
  • What is the theme of your story?
  • The 3 Cs ' clock crucible, contract
  • Putting your character under stress.
  • Who is your main character? The protagonist and antagonist
  • What are the main character's goals? What would happen if he or she fails?
  • How will the other protagonists assist the main character?
  • How does the main character attempt to achieve his or her goals?
  • What might the antagonist do to thwart the main character's efforts? How would the main character respond to that?
  • How might the main character deal with impending failure?
  • How might the main character finally succeed?
  • What happens to the main character and antagonist?
  • What lessons are being told through your story?

8. Themes and settings

  • The setting as a backdrop
  • setting
  • Time: historical and future settings. Period attitudes and behaviours.
  • Weather
  • Night time
  • Locations: prison, workhouse,
  • Themes: journey, escape, discovery, tyranny,
  • Doing research

9. Writing better Dialogue

  • How to present dialogue on the written page
  • Writing dialogue that promotes character.
  • Differentiating your characters through dialogue
  • Sentence structure for foreign characters
  • Dialogue isn't like real conversation
  • Age appropriate vocabulary.
  • Word patterns for children.
  • Reading ages and target readership.
  • When to use dialogue.
  • Dialogue in a narrative.
  • Humorous dialogue
  • Character personality in dialogue.
  • Period dialogue
  • Keeping the story going past dialogue.
  • Explaining situations with dialogue.
  • Conflict in dialogue.
  • Local and regional dialects

10. Writing for the under 7s

  • What under 7s like
  • Types of book for the under 7s. Picture books.
  • Characters. Animals. Settings
  • Illustrations and illustrators. Artwork
  • Reading schemes
  • Repetition
  • Suspense

11. Writing for 7-12 year olds

  • Good topics for this age group. Fantasy. Justice. Humour. Historical settings. Horror. School life. Bullying and social issues. Family problems. Problem solving. Themes that 7-12s can identify with.
  • Books for boys, books for girls.
  • Book length
  • The role of adults in the book
  • The plot. Page turning devices.

12. Writing for teenagers

  • Themes that engage teenagers. Growing up. Conflict. Justice and revenge. Teenager team action.
  • Romantic stories.
  • Role or absence of adults.
  • The misery memoir

13. Writing science fiction and fantasy

  • Creating another world
  • Plots for science fiction and fantasy
  • People and creatures, and their skills and attitudes
  • Plots for under 7s, 7-12 and teenagers.
  • Names for people and places and things.
  • Customs, social structure, religions and ethics
  • Good versus evil
  • Set in the future versus set in the past. Technology. Weapons.
  • Devices that give access to another world. Time travel. Writing online fan fiction

14. Writing non fiction for children

  • Types of children's information books. Picture books, History, biography, craft, experiment and science,
  • Text books
  • Information book format
  • Illustrations
  • Tables
  • Doing your research. Interviewing.

15. How to Self-Publish your book

  • Your book title.
  • Creating a book cover.
  • When to self-publish.
  • What form of self-publishing fits best?
  • Choosing a company to self-publish with.
  • Choosing an editor.
  • Layout and formatting your work.
  • Pros and cons of self-publishing.
  • Launching your self published book.
  • Promoting your work.

16. Publishing formats.

  • Print on demand. Create Space.
  • EBook formatting.
  • Amazon Kindle direct publishing.
  • Formatting a manuscript for eBooks.
  • How to promote an eBook.
  • How to get book reviews.
  • How to use social media to share my book.
  • Pricing an eBook.
  • Where to sell my eBook.
  • Selling an eBook internationally.

17. Getting into print through a publisher

  • Completing your manuscript.
  • Proof reading
  • Preparing your manuscript for submission.
  • Pros and cons of a literary agent.
  • Submitting to literary agents.
  • Writing my tag line.
  • Writing a synopsis.
  • Writing a cover letter.
  • Choosing a publishing company.
  • What do publishers want in a submission?
  • Submitting to multiple publishers.
  • Royalties
  • Coping with rejection
  • Delivering on time. Keeping to a writing timetable. Planning your word count.