Monday, August 10, 2009

Kelly Sonnack: How to Avoid Childish Mistakes When Writing for Children

Kelly Sonnack, agent with Andrea Brown Literary is offers 15 tips in this session. Here are a few:

  • Beware of lessons and morals. (“And Gator never misbehaved again.” “I guess veggie shakes are so bad after all.”) If you want to incorporate one, it has to be almost invisible and fun to learn.
  • Avoid writing to trends and copying bestsellers. This does not mean you can’t write a vampire book, but you have to realize that the bar is higher for you.
  • Don’t let an adult solve the problem or come to the rescue. (And of course, she says, every children’s book needs to have a problem or conflict the character must overcome.)
  • Don’t list character spec (“Gregory had sturdy broad shoulders, handsome hazel eyes and short thick reddish hair. He was a good-looking 18-year-old.”)
  • Avoid stereotypical teen dialogue (“Oh my gawd, could my life be any more embarrassing? I mean come on. That was so over, like two years ago.”) and overdone teen angst (Arguments, rolling eyes, sighing, dialogue like: “You don’t understand me.”).


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