Monday, 11 July 2011

Writing for children is child’s play.

How old are you? That should be your first question.

Where are you? Is also a key piece of information.

What do you see? This is essential.

As a child these three things make up a large portion of your experience of
the world around you. Every child has a unique emotional experience of their
world but it all begins with three key things.

To write for children you need to become childlike. Put yourself in the shoes
of a four year old and imagine that first day at kinder. What do you see, how
does it smell, and what can you hear? If you can’t even begin to imagine it then
maybe you should write for adults. I’m not saying I have a perfect memory and
can remember every detail of my first day at kindergarten but I do remember
snippets and I have recollections of my kids at their kinder too. I can put myself
in that space and try and think like a four year old.

If you are a parent like me be wary of telling a story as it should be instead of
as it really is.

You are no longer in charge.

This is about how the child sees the world. It may not be neat and tidy or of the
best behaviour but it should be realistic for a child to engage with it. You can’t
bullshit a kid about their world, they’ll know.

Kids speak differently to adults. Don’t be fooled into thinking that they’re
stupid because of this. Their vocabulary may be simple but their agile minds
are razor sharp.

They hear everything, they see everything and their observations are often
blunt and to the point.

They may come to some interesting conclusions based on these observations
and that is where the writer should be. Right there in the thick of it, seeing the
world through wondering eyes at a world full of never ending new sights and

A world where everything will be different when I grow up. I’ll eat (candy) lollies for
breakfast and wear my red gumboots to bed. I’ll stay up watching television as
late as I want and I’ll never eat brussell sprouts again.

Are you starting to get the picture, I’m sure you are now.

To write for children you have to be like them. We were all kids once, tap into
those memories. Make a point of observing kids in the supermarket or playing
in the park. Pretty soon you’ll be back eating rainbow sundaes and drinking
chocolate milk while your pen skips across the page. Above all else remember
to have fun that’s what kids do.

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