Writing for Children (6 weeks)

6 weeks

Aimed at:



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Next dates: 22.09.15, 05.01.16

This course is designed for beginners who would like to see whether they can write successfully for children. Children's fiction may look easy at first glance but there are a number of special factors you need to be aware of. This course will explain what those special factors are and how children's fiction works. It will give you essential tools that will help you produce compelling stories for a young audience.

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 - Finding Inspiration

Do children's books deal with different emotions, ideas and storylines from books for adults? If so, how can adult writers access those areas? Where can they find inspiration? In this week we'll look at ways of drawing on material from your own childhood and how you can learn to see the world from a child's perspective.

Week Two - Developing a Premise

Stories seldom appear fully-formed in a writer's head. You have to think them up. This starts with a premise. But what exactly is a premise? In this week we take a good look at what is considered to be the foundation stone of a good story and we ask what kind of premise is particularly suitable for a children's novel.

Week Three - Creating Character

Children's identities are not as fixed as those of adults. They are still deciding what kind of people they want to be. The characters in children's stories reflect this. They change, develop and grow as the story progresses. This week we will look at how you can make your characters boldly-drawn, convincing and able to grow like real people.

Week Four - Building a World

Why do so many successful children's writers completely remove their characters from the everyday world? Because it allows so much more scope for the imagination. In your own world you make the rules so the stakes can be as high as you like. This week we'll discuss techniques for visual description and world-building used by writers of fantasy and historical stories.

Week Five - Choosing a Voice

What makes J K Rowling so successful? A lot of things, obviously, but right at the top of the list is her voice. It's pitch perfect. Some people can do this naturally, others have to learn. In this week we look at the kinds of voices used by successful children's writers and how you can find one that suits you and plays to your strengths.

Week Six - Understanding the Market

Which is better - trying to be original or trying to fit into an established slot in the market? How do you know what the market is going to do next, anyway? This week we consider how the world of children's publishing works on the inside, what publishers are really looking for, and how to make them take you seriously.

Course Tutor

Brian Keaney (see author website).


Brian is the award-winning author of twenty-one novels for young people which have been translated into twelve languages.
In addition to his work as author, he teaches Creative Writing on the summer programme of the University of Cambridge and has worked as a Series Editor for three major publishers.


How our online courses work

Our courses are hosted on our own community site, The Word Cloud, which is a very friendly, intuitive and supportive writing community.

The tools and environment are very intuitive and easy to use: you won't have a problem. Each week, courses will include:

• A video introduction
• A written 'lecture'
• Interactive classroom discussion
• A writing exercise on the week's topic
• Feedback on your homework

All the course material can be accessed at any time of day or night. If you miss a few days, it will be easy to catch up. You are also warmly encouraged to interact with fellow-students - offer advice, give feedback and make friends. Find out more about how our courses work here.