1. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    How do you write a children's book?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Link the Writer, Jul 8, 2011.

    NOTE: I have no clue as to how to write a children's book. From what I have observed in my writing style, writing for young adults to adults is my thing.

    Let's assume that I want to write a book geared for small children. The book in question is about a hominoid lizard kid who lives with his human caretakers in a fantasy country where humans and hominoid lizards coexist. This lizard boy is of the same age and maturity level as his human friend, Eddie Keller.

    When I envision this, I envision it like a picture book with the pictures on the top and the words on the bottom. (basically, like the Bearstein Bears.)

    The questions I have:

    (a) What is the age range of children who are reading that type of book?

    (b) The reason I think this should be a "picture book" thing is because Benny is a lizard and somehow, I don't think it'd fit well in another format.

    (c) Beside the typical plots addressing the things children face, I thought "hey, these two are boys, so why couldn't I write some of the stories where they're heroes defeating some evil?"

    Advice?

    EDIT and OT: Yes, I'm still writing Heridon Copper in case you thought I was ditching him. This idea about the lizard kid had been floating around for a bit, so I felt like asking.
     
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  2. tehxiom
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    tehxiom New Member

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    (a) What is the age range of children who are reading that type of book?
    I haven't read "Bearstein Bears" so I can't really compare but picture books with text at the bottom would probably appeal to 2-10 year olds--depending on the theme, text, and artwork. They might even appeal to older kids, depending on the way they are written. I find that the 3+ year olds I've read to are usually able to sit through an interesting story that has a few paragraphs of text per page.

    If you can, get feedback from actual kids--and maybe listen to them or brainstorm ideas with them. I co-write children's books with my daughter.

    (b) The reason I think this should be a "picture book" thing is because Benny is a lizard and somehow, I don't think it'd fit well in another format.
    It sounds like a good idea.

    (c) Beside the typical plots addressing the things children face, I thought "hey, these two are boys, so why couldn't I write some of the stories where they're heroes defeating some evil?"
    Yes, that is a great idea. Children love being superheroes and defeating evil things!
     
  3. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I don't think I've ever seen a typically developing 10-year-old reading a picture book. I think a more realistic age range would be 2-5, maybe 6. But I'm not sure a child in that age would comprehend a "hominoid lizard kid", or a world in which hominoid lizards and humans lived together. A child in the age range of 7-9 would, though. And since a child of that age would also have a vivid enough imagination to picture it in his own mind, I don't think you really need to chain yourself to a picture book concept.
     
  4. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    ^
    I agree with Ed
    a hominiod lizard kid seem a bit too scary for children that read (or are read to) picture books.
    imo You need to look at an older age group 7+ you could use an illustrator to show lizard creature.
     
  5. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Interesting. I didn't consider that a lizard kid would be scary to a five-year-old. Benny just looks like a regular green lizard.

    Still, I think a 7-9 range would be perfect for the stories.

    I guess one of my problems is that since I'm an adult, I've forgotten what used to scare me as a child. Also, what didn't scare me as a child might scare another child. (as is typical from child to child.) To my 8-year-old self, a hominoid lizard would be frikkin' cool.

    Plus, it's doable to describe everything without pictures. My protagonist/narrator will need to be the human kid, not the lizard one. It should probably be the human kid anyway, as it'd make the kids relate to the character more.
     
  6. FictionAddict
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    FictionAddict Senior Member

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    Well, if you describe the character as a 'humanoid lizard kid', children probably may not understand you. But if you say he's green, has four fingers and a tail, then you'd have made communication.

    I don't think your character will scare children at all.

    Think about SpongeBob Square Pants. If the author had said he's a humanoid Marine Sponge it would be very different than picturing him as yellow, sponge-like, with arms and legs.

    Children have imagination far better than ours. You just have to use the right words and images.
     
  7. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I don't think the character will be scary to them, personally. Unless you do something to give the idea that it is supposed to be scary, or it is drawn to look scary.

    I agree that the description of the character should reflect his features, rather than saying things like "humanoid" or whatever.
     
  8. tehxiom
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    tehxiom New Member

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    I agree with Steerpike. I don't think it would scare kids unless drawn as a deformed monster that is meant to be scary. And even then, depending on how it is drawn, kids might just find it funny. My 3 and 4 year old girls think up these sorts of ideas by themselves, and think your idea is cool.

    Not all picture books are targeted towards 2-5 year olds, and there are definitely typically-developing 10+ year-olds who still read picture books. "Everything Can Be Beaten" by Jhonen Vasquez is an example of a picture book that is targeted towards an older/adult audience.
     
  9. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    If anyone let their children read Jhonen Vasquez, I'd call child services on them. Though I actually wasn't that old myself the first time I read "Johnny the Homicidal Maniac".

    Anyway, the trouble with writing children's books is that kids develop so differently. I have two cousins who are 10 and 7 now. The oldest is very mature, and we can tell ghost stories all night and he has no problems watching stuff that's darker than the normal kid's stuff. He knows it's not real. The youngest one however, was too scared to see Nightmare Before Christmas, a movie I've seen every Christmas since I was 4. And I've gotten yelled at by my aunt on more than one occasion for scaring the crap out of her.

    What's my point you ask? I'd say it's nearly impossible to have an age specific audience when writing children's books. Just write the story, and if it gets published the parents should decide if it's too scary or not.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    how old is the character?... that and whether it's a picture book or a chapter book will determine what age range you should be targeting...

    it all depends on how you write it... could be either... there are many chapter books about animal characters...

    who says you can't?...

    i write children's books for a chicago publisher and i mentor many children's book writers, so if you want help/mentoring, drop me a line any time...

    love and hugs, maia
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     
  11. Eunoia
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    Eunoia Contributing Member Contributor

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    I won't repeat what others have said, but maybe you should go into a bookshop and look at the children's books. Then you'll get the age range and be able to see how other writers do it.
     
  12. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not that I agree with this, but to paraphrase something that Martin Amis recently said: suffer some sort of brain damage.
     

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