Writing for Children Courses
The Blackford Centre for Writing for Children
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
- 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
- Time: historical and future settings. Period attitudes and behaviours.
- 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
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
- 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.
- Coping with rejection
- Delivering on time. Keeping to a writing timetable. Planning your word count.
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