Writing for Children: Tips, Courses & more

The Writers Workshop

The world's leading consultancy for new writers.

Our children's team is staffed by professional children's authors, and we work closely with children's literary agents too. Details


Get help today.

Improve your work by getting tough, independent editorial advice.

Our editorial advice is tough but sympathetic, market-aware and always constructive. Details



Our Writing for Children Course

Join our writing for children course in the company of a professional children's author.

You can study at home, but work online so you can interact with and learn from your classmates. Details

How to write a children's book

Writing for children is one of the most joyous activities under the sun - but also one of the hardest.

We've put together a huge library of tips & advice - from how to plot a story to how to write a picture book. Details

Writing for Children: Tips & Advice

Q: Will I need an agent?
A: Most children's writers will need a literary agent, yes, and do bear in mind that there are agents who specialise in handling work for children, so it's these you'll need to appeal to in due course. The one exception is that if you're writing picture books, you can go direct to publishers ... though on the whole our advice is still to get an agent, at least while you're still getting to know the industry.
Q: Will I need to produce my own illustrations?
A: No! Publishers will commission their own illustrations and would much prefer it if you present them with the text alone. The one exception: if you are a pro illustrator already and have written words to your own pictures.
Q: Do you have any suggestions for my writing style?
A: Yes. The very first issue is clarity. Kids aren't going to try to puzzle things out if your writing style is anything other than immediate, clear and easy to follow. On top of that, we strongly recommend plenty of warmth and plenty of humour. Remember that readers came to JK Rowling for the magic & the setup, but they stayed with her because of her warmth and her wit.
Q: I loved Toad of Toad Hall and . . .

A: Stop right there. We get a lot of authors (especially perhaps grandparents) trying to write in the style of old and much-loved classics. But that approach can't work. People like the old stuff because it's old. You need to write for the generation you find around you. That means don't ignore the 21st century: kids dohave phones and iPads and the rest of it, and you can't pretend that they don't. More important, your language needs to sound of the now. Kids don't call each other 'rotters' and you won't sell a book if your language sounds out of date.

Q: What about story-telling? Any tips there?

A: Kids are brilliantly honest readers. If they're bored, they'll put the book down. No pretending to love the Booker-Prize shortlist for them! So you need to keep your story clear and fast. Every chapter needs to move things along. Your characters also need to be big, bold and quickly assimilated. (And again, humour plus a good bit of scariness always helps.)