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Saturday, 1 February 2014

Writing for children isn't as easy as it looks!

My February theme has drawn a blank since no writers of children novels have come forward to write the whys and hows of writing in that genre, and so you're left with me to fill a gap.

In the early days of my writing career someone once asked why I never wrote children's books. 'Surely,' they said, 'that's the genre to begin with and then you can progress to adult literature.'

Foolishly, I believed this person. I began my children's adventure book about a young girl who loved ponies. Out riding she ended up in an enchanted garden, and had many adventures with the strange fairy folk who lived there.

I took it to my creative writing mentor and excitedly showed him my first draft.

'Hmm,' he said, 'it's a bit Enid Blyton.'

Miffed, I went back to my story and tried to modernise it by dropping in 'cool!' and an odd 'funky' (bear in mind, this was the 80s!).

My mentor smirked when he saw my efforts. 'You need to do more than add youth-speak. You need to become a child. Get into their minds. And what ever you do, don't patronise.'

I never realised I had been patronising in my fast-becoming redundant story. But when I read it back, I could clearly see that I was. I was talking down to the reader, and recreating scenes from in my adult eyes instead of being that child again.

My career writing for children came to a very swift end, until now. My fifth novel involves a woman being taken back to her past where she relives her youth. I must admit, I was struggling, until I realised I could get around it by having her adult self inside her younger body (so she retained her mind and memories).

I've dubbed the book Crossroads, and researching the 70s has been a trip down
nostalgia lane, but as for writing for children, I'll leave that to the writers who can!

Crossroads is in its draft stage at the moment, and if all goes well, I'll publish it early 2015. Meanwhile, if you have anything to say regarding writing for children please feel free to get in touch via the 'contact' button at the top of this page. I'll love to hear from you!

Louise Wise

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