Writing has always been a passion and a hobby for me, even as a child I was at my happiest with a pen and paper. As I got a bit older, I would write stories with my friends and write film scenes and sketches with my cousin. But one day, at the age of 20, when I had finished my first year at university and was lounging in bed one morning. I picked up my laptop and began to write something completely different. A children’s story. I still didn’t know I wanted to be a writer at this stage, I was just doing it for the love of it.
I began to create a character, a young, snotty, spoiled Princess, sitting in her lovely carriage on her way to her destiny. She was leaving behind her nursery full of toys, her favourite servants and a giant palace, to live with her Aunt in a tiny cottage in the middle of nowhere. It had ‘fairy tale’ written all over it. In short, she would meet some tiny pixies that lived in an elder-flower bush and spoke in cockney rhyming slang and realise that she was in a magical place and better yet, that she was from a long line of magical women. It was chock a block full of cliches. I may never let that story see the light of day, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that it sparked something in me, a love of writing for children.
Children learn through stories. When you write a story for Children you get the opportunity to change the way your young reader views the world around them. You can help a child who is going through a tough situation by writing about big subjects that are often hard to deal with such as grief or anxiety. For instance, Lost Property is about a boy who has lost his grandfather, the story takes the reader on Ben’s healing journey where he ultimately learns about living with the loss. Children understand a lot more than we give them credit for and it’s okay to write stories about challenging topics. I also love that children’s stories are steeped in morals, where protagonists over come their fears and good usually triumphs over evil, teaching children about love, empathy and friendship. Speaking of evil, children love a good villain they can hate, making that moment of triumph even sweeter. A protagonist overcoming a villain in children’s books can give a child hope, courage and confidence for overcoming the villains in their own life such as bullies.
Another thing I like about writing for children, is that you only get a short word count. This means that you have to make every word count. Every scene and every bit of dialogue has count towards the main message of the story. Everything that happens in the story has to drive the plot forward, there is no room for excess sub plots or large amounts of back story. I love creating characters that children can relate too and finding a balance between the serious moments and the humorous ones.
I have come a long way since I wrote about that spoiled Princess, I do a lot more planning and development before I start anything these days and my writing style has grown over time. I’ve always wanted to try and write something for adults, but when I do, I cringe. It never sounds right. For me, writing for children is where my natural author voice is and for now it is where I will stay.