How to write a children's book

There is probably no more creatively satisfying enterprise than writing a book for children. If you get it right, the pleasure you give will be enormous and may even last a lifetime.

If you have never written anything before, you probably want to start with our course in Writing for Children, which will give you the skills and confidence you need to get going. In the meantime, explore the topics below:

Yikes! How do I start?

A good book needs a very good idea. Harry Potter worked so well becuse of JK Rowling's writing, but she'd never have achieved the success she did if her fundamental idea hadn't been an excellent one. So here are our tips on making sure you start off right:

The next step is to develop that idea into a complete story. Children won't have the patience to wait if you don't drive that story forwards, and if every chapter isn't essential to the final resolution. So even though you're writing for a younger audience, your plotting technique has to be absolutely spot on. Here's what you need to know:

And finally. no children's book works without memorable and eccentric characters. But even if you're having fun, those characters have to shimmer with life. Here's how to do it:

More about children's & YA fiction

Needless to say, writing for children is its own unique challenge. Here are some words of advice from the pros. We've got advice from all sorts of children's writers, and from top literary agents too. Read, learn and absorb!

More advanced writing skills

If you want to develop your skills, you'll probably want our course in writing for children. But you might also want to consult some of the following words of wisdom:

The "show don't tell" motto is particularly relevant to those writing for children. Kids want their stories to be dramatised, not told in some mood of literary reflection. Keep it active, and keep it moving!

More help

If you need help with any aspect of writing or getting published, we can assist. The main ways we can help include:

  • Giving you feedback on your work. Whether you've written a picture book or a full length YA trilogy, we can help out. We'll give you tough, honest, constructive advice aimed at helping you to make your work better than ever. If you work is strong enough to get published, we'll help with the next steps too - free of charge.
  • Courses in writing for children. If you're serious about your writing, we think you'll take our course! It's friendly, expert and inspirational.
  • Courses in self-editing your novel. If you've written a full length novel, you'll know that the hard work is about to begin: editing your first draft into shape. Our extraordinary self-editing course is the place to learn the skills you need.
  • The Festival of Writing and other events. If you want to meet agents, publishers and other writers, then our Festival is the place to do it. We look forward to welcoming you.