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What’s not to like: writing for under 7s with Maggie Bolton – 20 March 2019

No better way of learning to write for young children than from someone who has achieved success in the field.  Maggie, a long time member of AWC, is a skilled and imaginative writer of books in that genre who also illustrates her books with such lovely pictures you wish you had a child for whom to buy them.

Writing for children has changed over the past years.  No more talking trains, buses or other inanimate objects.   Even very young children like a bit of adventure and are more in tune with spaceships and upbeat ideas. To be in with a chance of success children’s writers have to create  new imaginative characters, locations and challenges that must not under any  circumstances be re-hashed stories from earlier published  books.

This is a difficult market with fewer outlets for stories than in the old days when many women’s magazines often included a page for little ones.  But children do enjoy a story.

With a lot of encouragement and ideas from Maggie we were soon creating our own characters, locations and adventures.  Gosh Enid Blyton was tame! 

First grab your reader, be it a small child listening to the story being read or at the upper age range, a new reader, struggling with the written word.  Maggie read out examples of opening sentences from tales including a spider unable to spin a web, a girl on board a ship in a stormy sea attempting to rescue a puppy, and an unusual grannie who sped around on her scooter.  All were immediately intriguing and definitely ‘grabbers’.

Maggie’s basic advice was to begin by creating a character, and name it then build a picture of the hero/heroine.  What are her/his likes and hates, and what food is favourite.  Give your character a problem.  Is your story going to be a cuddly style or a funny one?  And what does your character really desire?

Then create your setting.  The sky is the limit, let your imagination fly.

Pens flew across notebooks in a silent room as members old and new released their inner child.  Inspiration flowed at this workshop.  Look out for mysterious goblins, space adventures, under sea monsters etc.  Nothing is out of the question

And what is not to like about creating mesmerising books for children?

An excellent workshop enjoyed by all.

Sheila Grant

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