Sunday, February 11, 2018

Questions for those who write for children

Lately, I've been working on a short novel. The best part about it is I know exactly who my ideal reader is, because I read to them every night.

The characters in this story, which I believe will be the beginning of a series, are third graders, just like my girls. We're talking about a book that'll probably have no more than 10,000 words. This is not a middle grade novel.

It's not ready for prime time at all; I haven't even finished the first draft, and I know I've created some tangents I'll need to lop off before I'm done. But that's part of the editing and revision process; I'm writing right now.

But I'm curious about what other writers out there have learned during this process.

How have you determined whether you're writing with the right language? I tend to write too old (probably related to my writing for a business audience for the past twenty-plus years).

Do you test with children?

Do you share with other parents?

How do you find these things out for yourself?

If you have thoughts or suggestions, feel free to comment here. Or send an email to me at

And if anyone's interested, I'm putting together an early readers' team for these books. I'm very much at the early stage of this, but I'll definitely give you free copies of the book when it's ready.


JeffO said...

Glad to see you're writing, Matt! Sadly, my own kids are well past that age now, and I'm not a writer for kids. I would suggest (and I'm sure you're already doing this) but pay close attention to what your girls are reading and what they like for cues on language, structure, etc. As for who you should test it out on, since I don't write for kids, hard to say, but I would suggest any and all of parents, kids--and add a teacher or two in there as well, I think. Maybe a children's librarian as well. When my girls were little, I sought advice from one and she did not steer me wrong!

Matt Sinclair said...

Great suggestions, Jeff. Yes, I'm aware of what the girls are reading at home, but I realized as I read this comment that I'm not sure what they might be reading in school. Always great to be reminded.

Always a good suggestion to talk to a children's librarian. Librarians are an amazing and underappreciated community resource!