WRITING STORIES FOR CHILDREN

By Betty B. Robertson

Premise Proclamation

1. State your story premise (meaning/theme) in one sentence.

2. The premise should permeate the entire story.


Bang-up Beginning

1. Capture interest by immediacy. Is something happening or about to happen which will hook the listener or invite the reader in?

2. Orient readers

a. Locale - where is the story taking place
b. Time - past, present, future
c. Characters - introduce briefly but vividly
d. Decision - what decision does the lead character (protagonist) make that sets the story into motion?
e. Action - what initial action is taken as a result of the decision?

3. Decide on point of view - who is telling the story?

4. Use short sentences with strong verbs.


Unmuddle the Middle

1. Use realistic dialogue and plenty of it. Dialogue should reflect how kids sound, think, and feel. Avoid slang, but listen to how real kids talk before you try and write for them.

2. Have active characters, not just pawns to move the plot along..

3. Paint a word picture with sensory-rich language.

4. Be concise. The secret of editing is to ask, "If I cut this scene, paragraph or word will the
story still stand? If so, cut it!

5. Keep a consistent perspective on both the tense (past or present) and the point of view (first person, second person).

6. Avoid moralizing or preaching. Wrap your story around a kernel of sound biblical truth so your point will be clear without preaching.

7. Stay away from stereotypes and Christian clich├ęs.

8. Be original. Use unpredictable details and fresh insights.

9. Give your characters feelings and actions suitable for the age group for which you are writing.

10. Make tension work for you. Is the character's goal worth fighting for? Is there doubt the character will get what he wants? What might happen if he doesn't get what he wants?

11. Keep a tight time frame.


Ending Does Not Mean Encore

An ending is the conclusion, not the opportunity to say things once more!

1. No tag ending to explain the meaning of the story.

2. Briefly snip ravels, leaving no loose ends or questions.

3. The ending should flow naturally from the plot and characters.

4. Give predictable endings a new twist by using unexpected or surprising details.