Writing Tips from Children’s Author Alison Kartevold

 

Welcome to day four of Alison Kartevold’s 6-day NWFCC April Author Showcase tour and discover your audience.

To ensure that your writing is well received you must first and foremost, know your audience. When I first started writing KenKarta: Battle of the Onoxmon, I was writing for an audience of two, my daughters. They named characters, helped develop plot lines, and kept me true to the goal of creating a story they wanted hear and not necessarily one that I wanted to tell. It only became one I wanted to tell after I experienced the joy it brought to them. As the story matured and it became clear that the audience could be larger I had to change my approach, broaden it a bit, to ensure that the story held something for all the members of my new audience. It was only then that I started to think about the story in terms of a book, and by then the adventures that princesses Veronica and Sophia were to have in the Land of KenKarta were well developed.

The next thing necessary for you to write well received material is to honestly answer this question: Am I willing to put in the time and effort to work on the mechanics necessary to make this book a success? For me, the answer turned out to be yes because I wanted my daughters to be able to hold a copy of a story they helped create in their hands. Writing a book is not a quick undertaking. If you don’t have the energy and strength to persevere, it can be highly dissatisfying. Thinking up a good story and polishing it to a point where it is fit for public consumption are two very different things. So even though you must write for someone else in order to have an audience, you should write about something you care about if you want to find fulfillment.

Even more than adults, kids only read what they like. If it’s not a school assignment, they read things that engage their imaginations and interests. That’s it, that’s all they need. If it has a deeper meaning, great! That’s a bonus, but it’s not what brings them to the story to begin with. It is we adults who always feel the need of inserting a lesson and we are often far too heavy handed in how we go about it. They may be kids, but never make the mistake of writing down to them or lecturing them. They’ll bust you on it every time.

Also never try to write for kids in a vacuum. If you don’t have access to your audience, it’s very hard to connect with and write for them. While we adults may remember what it was like to be a kid ourselves, those memories are tainted by a lifetime of experience after the fact. Kids don’t have that same depth of knowledge to draw from; therefore, their emotions and reactions are more based in the present. So when I say, know your audience, I don’t just mean define them. When it comes to writing for kids, you should really know them if you ever hope to connect with them.

Follow Day 5 of Ms. Kartevold’s tour tomorrow at www.rothsinspiringbooksandproducts.wordpress.com.

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7 responses to this post.

  1. Hi Alison,

    I am so honored to host you today. Thanks so much. One can never learn too much about writing for children. I Your tips are what I need to bring my manuscript to the next level. Have a great and happy Easter!

    Nicole Weaver

    Reply

  2. thanks for the tips and good luck with your tour!

    Reply

  3. Alison,
    I’m guilty of writing in a vacuum. I’ve no choice due to my disabilities I can’t get out much. I do the next best thing. I watch their shows, read their magazines and books written for them. It’s amazing the tidbits I pick up. ;0)
    Blessings,
    J. Aday Kennedy
    The Differently-Abled Writer & Speaker
    Children’s Author of Stella the Fire Farting Dragon (April 2010)
    http://www.jadaykennedy.com

    Reply

    • Hi J,

      I just checked out your website and from what I can see you aren’t giving yourself enough credit. It may be harder for you then others, but it appears that you are making an effort. That is what counts. If you’d like more direct contact with the kids maybe you can approach your local librarian and see about getting on their schedule as a monthly story time reader or the like, who knows, they might even be able to arrange for kids to come to you. Best of luck to you.

      Alison

      Reply

  4. Excellent tips, Alison. You’re so right about kids only reading what they like. My 9-year-old won’t touch a book if it doesn’t look good and the synopsis doesn’t capture her attention.

    Best of luck.

    By the way, Nicole, I am sharing links to these posts with my readers at The Professional Writers Connection.

    Cheryl

    Reply

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