May 23, 2012

Writing Children's Books

The Art and Craft of Children's Literature 
at the Paris Writers' Workshop, June 24–29, 2012

One of the most exciting genres of creative writing today is the world of children's literature. It's also one of the few arenas where the printed book is still truly appreciated. Kids love to read and to be read to. They like to turn pages. And books that hold the attention of the younger set are a hot commodity.

Do you have a children's book inside you? Many people do, especially if they remember what it's like to be a child. But how do you become successful in this field? Especially when it seems that everyone wants to write for children, including celebrities like Stephen Colbert and Julie Andrews. The upcoming Paris Writers' Workshop has invited one of the experts of Children's Literature to tell us more.

Kate McMullan
Kate McMullan has had a passion for writing for children and young adults for many years. She has written more than 100 children's books, including SCHOOL: Adventures at Harvey N. Trouble Elementary, Myth-o-Mania, The Greek Myths as told by Hades, The Dragon Slayers' Academy series, and The Pearl & Wagner books for new readers. She and her illustrator husband, Jim McMullan, have collaborated on many best-selling picture books, among them I STINK!, named one of the Ten Best Picture Books of the Year by The New York Times, I'M DIRTY, I'M BAD, and, most recently, I'M FAST.

She offers a few creative tips to get you started on your path.

Get in touch with the child you were. Is there a particular age you strongly remember? Maybe this is the age you'll want to write for. How did you feel? What did you want? What frightened you? Maurice Sendak said that the WILD THINGS were inspired by his fear of his aunts and uncles pinching his cheeks and saying things like, "Look at this boy! Couldn't you just eat him up?"

Spend some time reading books similar to the book you'd like to write.  Figure out how they work. Why do you care about the main character? What does that character want? What forces are working against the character achieving his or her goal?

Would you like a friend to recommend a book by saying, "There's a great lesson here for you!" No! So why do we think kids' books need to be teaching tools? Forget about the lessons and concentrate on writing a great page-turner of a story.

To get more in-depth information and to turn your ideas into a publishable children's book, join us from June 24–29 for a hands-on workshop to really dig into the art and craft of writing for children. You'll work with Kate every morning in a small group, and you'll meet our other writers-in-residence (Samantha Chang, Mimi Schwartz, Kathleen Spivack, and Christopher Tilghman), expert panelists, and literary agents during the week of discussions, lectures, readings, and receptions.

For more information, especially about our special limited-time reduced registration fee for SCBWI members and the PWW scholarship for half tuition awarded to one of the registered attendees, go to Paris Writers' Workshop or call the WICE office at 01 45 66 75 50. And, if you're ready to register for this workshop, go to the WICE website.

We hope to see you in June!

Post by Meredith Mullins and Kate McMullan. Book jackets courtesy of the publishers. We also thank our generous PWW sponsor, OIC Books.