Saturday, 18 January 2014

 Create an appealing and consistent main character but not a perfect one.  Start how you mean to go on. Sudden changes in traits confuse.

Create original characters. Have a cricket-playing granny or a brother who likes to make his own wacky clothes.

Remember we are loved for our little eccentricities!  It's OK for your main character to have some. Have fun building your characters.

Humour is a funny thing!  Keep children smiling where appropriate to hold attention. Children appreciate a joke, a smart answer, a neat duck of the issue and gentle irreverence.  Avoid making your characters too cheeky or bad role models.

Ask: find out what children talk to their friends about, what they like and don't like, what they eat, play and do in their own time. Listen to how children use the language and what expressions they use. What they would keep or get rid of if they ruled the world?

Expect the unexpected: a surprise event, invitation, bad weather, a present, something gets lost, a problem arises. How does it change things for the better in the end?

Keep dialogue snappy. Every word counts. Be ruthless with editing. Keep the story moving.

Be modern: include one-parent families, new step-brothers or sisters, mum or dad's new partner, multicultural issues, disabilities, school friends, after school and weekend clubs, hobbies, treats, eating out, cinema, homework with friends on Skype or laptops. How might children use a computer in a new way?

Find out what books sell well for your target age group and why children like reading them.

Keep yours unique. Make it stunningly individual. Think up new words for tired clich├ęs.  

Keep a note of everything introduced and bring it in again later in the story. Tie up all loose ends neatly-  eg: medallion on a chain. Only bring in if you plan to use it in some way later in the story.

Get a professional proof-reader to do the job.

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