Oct 12, 2010

Kate Forsyth - Writing for Children

At the recent CYA Writers Conference, Kate Forsyth provided so much insight and advice in her talk, I could have used a whole week with her to absorb it all.

Kate writes for children and adults and is well known for her fantasy work such as The Gypsy Crown.

The advice Kate offered that resonated with me the most was about writing specifically for children:

Writing for children is often harder than writing for adults.
  • Children are less forgiving. Adults might read past a dragging chapter in hopes the story pace will return. Children will easily abandon a book mid-story if it does not meet their expectations.
  • Novels and novellas for children do not have room for sloppy writing. Every word must work as hard as it can, no unnecessary words or sentences.
  • Adults read for many reasons - to keep abreast of literary trends, to learn or understand and to enjoy. Kids read for pleasure. That's it.
What do children want in their stories?
  • Distinct characters. Would you recognise your character in a crowd if you were on the bus with them? You would if they were Peter Pan, Harry Potter, Pippy Longstocking or Huck Finn.
  • Suspense and surprise - secret enemies can help build these elements.
  • Action! Begin with drama, activity, danger or movement.
  • A protagonist at least 12 months older than themselves. Kids read up, they don't usually like reading about younger kids.
  • Emotional engagement. Kids want to CARE if something happens to the main character or their friends.
Like to know more about Kate Forsyth? Check out her website, it's filled with great information for fans and writers:

Stay tuned! On the 14th I will be featuring an interview with writer K.M. Weiland about her new release:
Conquering Writers Block and Summoning Inspiration. To find out more about K.M. Weiland, visit her blog: Wordplay


  1. You are always so chock full of information and I'm so grateful that you share it.

    Thanks so much!

  2. LOVE this! Bookmarking and saving forever. :-)

  3. Myrna & Shannon - Thanks so much (big virtual hug for you two!). It's amazing how much we can learn from published authors. I was definitely impressed with the advice to make your character distinct enough to stand out in a crowd - I'm guilty of trying to make them more like every other kid in school, but now I'll give them some identifiable mark :-)

  4. What a great post! I am tagging this in my favorites file. :)

  5. Terry & Alleged Author - Thanks, I always find gems on both your blogs too! :-)