Common Mistakes Children’s Book Writers Make
Whether you are talking about early chapter books, picture books, middle-grade or YA novels, there are some pretty common mistakes that writers make. These are usually restricted to new writers, although they can apply to someone used to writing in the adult genre that has just started writing for children. There are five mistakes that editors see over and over and which can make your book completely non-publishable. Let’s take a look at them.
Trying to Push a Moral Message
One of the most common ways that new authors to the children’s book world make their books unreadable by children is by pushing a moral message. The first thing that you need to understand is that children get moral messages all day from adults. They don’t want to read about them. For another thing, your particular set of morals may not be the same as the morals that their parents are teaching them. Believing that you are right about a certain creed or religion doesn’t give you the right to push those beliefs on other children.
Talking Down to Children
Contrary to popular mythology, children do not need to be talked down to. You do not have to control your vocabulary, unless you have a particularly large one, nor do you have to explain concepts that would be clear to most adults. Children are a lot smarter than many adults give them credit for, and talking down to them in books will make them put the book down faster than anything.
Being Lazy with Character Development
Just because a book is for children does not mean that you can work less on character development. In fact, in some cases you have to work harder for character development. Kids are complex and often going through all sorts of changes and mental states at once. They are always learning new things, changing their minds and discovering new things about themselves. Writing a good character in a children’s book, child or adult, is vital to the success of the story.
Not Putting Enough Emphasis on Plot
Another problem in many first novels for kids is the simplistic plot. Children do not want to simplistic plot, and they especially do not want everything laid out for them on a silver platter. Treat your plot just as seriously as you would if you are writing an adult book, and keep your cards close your chest until the end of the book. Don’t worry about children not understanding it.
Avoiding Adult Themes or Problems
Something else that some new writers of children’s books do is avoid adult themes or problems. Most of the time, these things exist in children’s books. There are certain themes in issues that are more suitable for different age groups. For example, divorce is a perfectly acceptable topic to tackle in a middle grade novel while sex should be something restricted to young adult novels. But don’t avoid these issues altogether because your books will be completely boring and unrealistic.