Storymoja

Celebrating East African Writing!

Writing Children’s Fiction

I grew up in an environment where reading was encouraged. My mom would buy, sometimes second hand, books and books and books. When I was 3 years old, my mum says I would take a handful of books and hide in a closet where no one would bug me. When they could not find me, they knew I was in a closet.

Puss in Boots

Books fascinated me. The colourful pictures as much the words. From the Legend of Sleepy Hollow to Puss in Boots. I also had a thing for the fairy tale series. I am still as confused about the girl who slept for eons until some prince rescued her as I was when I was four.

Anyway, the point of my journey back into childhood, is that children’s fiction is perhaps the noblest of writing endeavours. A person who writes for children is as responsible for the content he creates, as much as the parent and caregivers are responsible for building a reading habit in their children.

In this article, we will focus on a just a few aspects of writing for children.

1 – Research. Know your market. Read current children’s fiction releases for the age group you are interested in writing for. Children’s fiction is varied depending on the stage of development that the audience is at. What will be appealing for a 6 year old is very different from what would appeal to an 11 year old.


2 – The plot or storyline should have a contemporary feel. Traditional African ogre stories have a place in literature, but a child growing up now will likely not be attracted to them. Think about the Pac Game totting, Heroes watching, Harry Potter adoring kid as you write your story. But that does not mean you have to create a Harry Potter with an African name. Use your creative ingenuity to rival J.K. Rowling.


3 – Use a mixture of creative language and speech to bring your characters to life. They must be instantly visible to the young reader. Younger children love rhymes, rythm and songs. Older children will appreciate your respect of their intelligence as well as your accommodation of their need for entertainment.


4 – Ensure the ending is satisfactory. Ensure all issues are resolved by the last page…don’t leave your poor reader hanging!


5 – Edit and re-edit the language until you are happy with the usage and placement of every single word!

I expect you to go all out and find out as much as is possible about writing for children. As you do that it might be a very good idea to see The Matatu from Watamu that drove into the Sea, a musical for children that was created during a Writing for Children Workshop.

Well now it is time for us to spend a few minutes reading this week’s showcases.

Patrick Ochieng starts the show time for us with The Foreskin: My last thoughts, before falling asleep, were: I must get to the bottom of this foreskin business. The next time uncle Odhiambo visited, I would ask him what ‘foreskin’ meant.

Then we move on Jaimin Vyas’ character who is in his Final Hours on deathrow: My actions also required that I faced my conscience too, for due to my actions, my father, mother, and sister were left alone to get on with life.

Lastly, Simon Nduati presents us with a case of P-O-V-E-R-T-Y:  The ground we trend on is too dry for a cactus. The water situation here is so harsh it portrays Sahara desert a swamp. If the earthlings here were camels, they would not stand the thirst.

The Poetry exhibition willhere every First Thursday of the Month. To have your poems on the gallery show, please send them in to us (blogs@storymojaafrica.co.ke – Make sure that you mark clearly on the subject line Poetry for the Blog) every week by the last Thursday of every month. We will be looking for themed poetry that could likely be added to our performance portfolio. For details see this page.

Thank you very much for your continued support of the Storymoja Blog!

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One comment on “Writing Children’s Fiction

  1. Hotfish
    May 3, 2010

    What of the Illustrations?

    I am yet to see a children’s book that sells without images… you said it yourself …The colourful pictures as much the words”

    I feel the role of the illustrator in Kenyan children’s publishing. Often the artist who contributes 50% to the creativity of the book gets less than 2% in return. I believe children’s publications should be approached as a tripartite partnership between the author, illustrator and publisher. this would result in self-marketing publications rather than the “hard sells” we have on the shelves.

    Just my two cents

    Like

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This entry was posted on May 3, 2010 by in Writing.
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