how to write a book for kids
There is no difference between writing for adults and writing for children: no difference in depth of meaning, and no difference in sophistication or complexity.
That being said here’s How to Write a Children’s Book:
|Middle Grade||Young Adult|
|Age of readers: |
Age of protagonist:
Typically age 10 for a younger MG novel, and up to age 13 for older, more complex books.
Focus on friends, family, and the character’s immediate world and relationship to it; characters react to what happens to them, with minimal self-reflection.
Ages 14–15 for a younger YA with cleaner content aimed at the middle-school crowd; for older and more edgy YA, characters can be up to 18 (but not in college).
YA heroes discover how they fit in the world beyond their friends and family; they spend more time reflecting on what happens and analyzing the meaning of things.
|Generally 30,000–50,000 words (although fantasy can run longer to allow for more complex world-building).|
No profanity, graphic violence, or sexuality (romance, if any, is limited to a crush or a first kiss).
|Generally 50,000–75,000 words (although there’s also a length allowance for fantasy).|
Profanity, graphic violence, romance and sexuality (except for eroticism) are all allowable (though not required).
Adult books can have child characters – but books for children and teenagers must focus on characters only slightly older than their readers. Children prefer to read about characters slightly older than themselves, so if you are writing for a Middle Grade/9-12 audience, your protagonist will likely be 12 or 13.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came close to a whopping 200,000 words, but her debut novel, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, was roughly 77,000 words—which is still long for the genre, but not outrageously so for an MG fantasy. Hey, once you get as popular as Rowling, you can those too.
Subject: There is very little that has not been or cannot be covered by writers for children and particularly teenagers, even topics that at first glance might belong solely to adults. In truth, it is the way authors approach a subject that makes the difference.
Language: the disapproval of gatekeepers is a reality of publishing. Swearing is extremely loud on the page, try to weed out a few f-bombs at first proof stage.
Plot –Plot is important for all writers, but the fact is that it is more so in some adult genres than others. The best books for children and teenagers run on a powerful plotting engine. With literacy at school often focusing on overly complicated and technically questionable grammatical terms, young readers are now subject to so much that can put them off reading for life. They need and deserve books that will draw them in instantly, utterly absorbing from the first page.
For more resources on writing characters go here.