The first writing workshop that I attended at the writers’ conference was “Bring Out the Child in You: Writing on the Child’s Level Without Talking Down” by Marsha Hubler.
Marsha stressed that it can be harder to write for children than for adults. She stressed that we read what we’re going to write, whether it be picture books or chapter books. She also suggested that we study kids the age we want to write for, as well as studying good authors in what we want to write.
Marsha said that dialogue is very important and that we need to know how kids the age we want to write for are talking. She also explained the difference between “tags and beats” and explained why beats are better. “Tags” are things like: he said, she said, Bruce said, Mom said, etc. Beats inform the reader who is speaking without using tags and may also inform the reader of something important by using feelings, senses, etc.
She shared a couple of hand-outs with exercises we participated in. One suggested that one way to avoid talking down to readers is to engage them in exciting narration. Just because your audience is young doesn’t mean they won’t understand more advanced words if used properly in context. She suggested that we avoid passive verbs (was, is, seemed, looked, etc.) and be sure to use active verbs.
Marsha also shared a hand-out exercise on point of view. There were three examples we needed to read and determine whose point of view it was written from, and whose point of view it should be written from. This exercise made point of view easier to understand.
If you are interested in writing children’s chapter books, Marsha suggested reading books by Joyce Magnin and Nancy Rue for humor. She also suggested the following specific books:
Here’s Lily by Nancy Rue
Double Trouble by Jenny Dale
The Secret of Wolf Canyon by Marsha Hubler
Dragons in Our Midst (series) by Bryan Davis
You can find out more about Marsha at: marshahubler.com
Though my desire is to write adult fiction, I am not confident that I could write good thriller/suspense stories (my favorites) and so I thought I would write mystery/romance stories, but during Marsha Hubler’s workshop, I felt God telling me via the Holy Spirit that He wants me to write children’s books, so I am focusing on that right now, but hope that God allows me to also write for adults later.
My oldest son said he could definitely see me writing children’s books.