Writing For Children Course

Our Writing for Children course (6 Weeks)

Next dates: 8th January 2013, 19th March 2013, 11th June 2013, 24th September

This course is designed for new writers who want to get an excellent grounding in the basic skills. If you've always wanted to write for children but felt daunted by the challenge - this is the course for you.


Course Syllabus

Introductory Period
Before the course starts, you'll be able to watch an introductory video from the course tutors and get to know your fellow students in a dedicated area of the Word Cloud site.

 Week One - Creativity
'Where do you get your ideas from?'. Writing something you love is essential - but writing something the market wants is no less important. In this week, we'll discuss: • Genres • Age range, gender and word count • Crossover books – appealing to adults and children • 'The same, but different’ - commercial trends vs originality • High concept • Titles • Series potential. We'll also work with the concept of the 'elevator pitch', and seek to apply that to your ideas.

Week Two – Story
There’s a common discussion in creative circles – do you start with story or character? There isn’t a right answer – the two dance toe-to-toe. However, for younger fiction especially, story probably takes prominence. We'll explore: • Planning structure: Inciting events, scenes and acts, turning points • Escalating stakes rather than episodic plotting • The merits and perils of backstory • Credibility and internal consistency – the ‘contract’ with the reader • Climax / Dénouement • Character arc – character revelation vs character change.

Week Three – Character
Your story has to be populated by memorable, engaging characters - which, with children as the audience, can be easier said than done. This week we'll discuss: • Creating characters – getting to know your characters • The ‘character spectrum’ • The importance of the antagonist, whether it be a person or a thing • Character conflict (internal and external) • Characterisation – the unspoken elements of character • Exploring character through POV and perspective • Stereotypes vs archetypes.

Week Four - Style
The next huge ingredient of a powerful story is the way you write it. Bright, warm, attractive writing means an engaged audience, and a strong novel. We'll explore: • Dialogue (concise; characterised – people don’t always say what they mean) • Show, don’t tell • Scene-setting and scene-structure • Voice. We'll also look at some of the most common mistakes: • clichés • adjectives • overwriting • exposition • repetition.

Week Five – The writing process
The theory can be all very well ... but you've actually got to write your book. What's more, even when you've written it, you'll need to start revising it, which is where (according to many writers) the real work starts. We'll discuss the nuts and bolts of writing, including: • Planning and targets • Where to write • Writer’s block and plot obstacles • Get it written, then get it right • Listening to criticism; peer groups; professional feedback, pros and cons • Redrafting and self-editing • ‘Killing your darlings’

Week Six - Publication
Once you've written your novel, revised and perfected it, you've still got to sell it. In the final week, we'll look at the business side of things, in the company of Julia Churchill (right) who runs the London office of the Greenhouse Literary Agency. We'll discuss: • Hooks and pitches • Synopses • Agents and Publishers – what to expect • The Writers and Artists Yearbook.



Course Tutors

Your course tutors will be Lil Chase and Michael Ford (see photos left).

Lil is the author of Boys for Beginners and Locker 62 (with Quercus). Michael is author of the Spartan series (with Walker Books). Both Lil and Michael work with Working Partners, a key intermediary in the children's publishing industry, so they both know a huge amount about what publishers are looking for - and how to deliver it!

On the final week, there will be a guest appearance from children's literary agent, Julia Churchill.