Getting Motivated to Write (Children’s) Fiction, by Margaret Clark

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Many people say they would love to write a book for children or adults but they never actually get started. So here’s some tips to help you get motivated.
 
1. Getting ideas. Ideas are all around you but it’s what you do with them that makes you stand out from the rest of the crowd. Use your imagination, think laterally. Instead of two children going to stay at Grandma’s house and they do the usual things like bake cakes, go shopping, to the movies or weed the garden, make exciting things happen. For example, something goes wrong with the cake batter and it takes over the kitchen then the house.
 
2. Create and solve a  problem. Okay so the cake batter has mutated, how do you get rid of it? This is where it’s a good idea to mind-map all the possible solutions. Again choose something unusual – have a Raw Cake Batter Party and  all the kids in the street eat it. Invent a drying agent /robot/ whatever that sucks up all the batter.
 
3. Unusual characters. Have an unusual Grandma. Maybe she is a Secret Agent, or is learning to fly a helicopter, or has an ice house down the back with rare penguins inside, or … (choose one, not the lot)
 
4. When stuck, make something happen. When rambling on, stop, check the plot, go back to the characters and re-examine their personalities, rethink the activities. When you’re bored with your story, make something happen.
 
5. Dialogue should be realistic. Listen to how children talk to each other, how adults respond. Don’t have too much dialogue nor too much narrative description which can become boring. Writing is like a see-saw, you need sound balance.
 
6. Some sort of conflict makes for a great story line, the archetypical goodies versus the baddies.
 
7. Make your characters likeable (except for the villains but even a villain has to have some likeable trait too.) No one likes a spoilt, moaning, sneaky kind of kid as a main character.
 
8. Create highs and lows, usually at the end of each chapter so that the reader wants to keep reading. (Call them cliff-hangers or page -turners, whatever you like). Grandpa has lost his glasses. The dog has just left home. The house which they rent is about to be sold. The teacher leaves and a new one is coming.
 
9. Make sure that your story or novel is appropriate for the age of the reader. Read, read, read. You can check this out by reading books from the library or buying books from the book stores. You can organise this before you start writing, or if you fins that your story is developing away from the age group intended, then redraft the beginning and see which sounds more age appropriate.
 
10. The ending. It must be credible. Never write ‘It was only a dream’ (squelch), or ‘They lived happily ever after’ (squelch) or ‘Oh, no, what will happen next?’ (squelch. Note squelch means a very disappointed reader. Even if you intend to write a sequel, then the ending needs to have a  satisfactory conclusion with hints that more will follow.

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More on Margaret Clark and her fiction can be found at www.margaretclark.com.
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The Australian Literature Review
www.auslit.net

Blast Off (Aussie Nibbles)Mango Street Mania!: All Eight <a href=Silent Knight (Aussie bites)Footy ShortsFool's Gold (Aussie Bites)A Home for Gnomes (Aussie Nibbles S.)Hester the Jester (Aussie Bites)The Gutless Gladiator

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6 Responses to Getting Motivated to Write (Children’s) Fiction, by Margaret Clark

  1. Pingback: The Australian Literature Review Update | The Australian Literature Review

  2. Pingback: Are you a new writer looking for some tips? | The Australian Literature Review

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  4. MT Starkey says:

    An excellent list. Very helpful.

  5. Kerry Brown says:

    Margaret Clark gives good common sense advice to writing for children. “Read Read read “is also my mantra to good writing.
    “Your imagination is like a tree – the more you feed it, the more it will grow!” Kerry Brown 2010

  6. unusual characters, kids love them! beware of stereotypes!

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