The Best Tips on Writing for Kids and Teens


Writing for Kids and TeensWhat are the most common problems in picture book submissions? What are the most important differences between middle-grade and young adult stories? What makes for standout writing for young readers? Top literary agents who represent writing for kids and teens delve deeply into their best craft tips and industry insights to answer all of these questions and more in the hot-off-the-press March/April 2016 Writer’s Digest.

Once Upon a Time

At a neighborhood party recently, the adults on my street were discussing the fact that I’m newly slated to become a published novelist with a mixture of fanfare, curiosity, and something akin to suspicion. What fun, I thought, having people suddenly wonder what’s going on in my brain! Nothing like fielding a series of odd questions to make you feel like a “real” writer, right?

But then my neighbor’s second-grader spoke up. “You should write a book for kids,” she said.

“I do have one idea,” I told her, and then, not really thinking, spouted a one-line description of my half-baked picture book title. It wasn’t anything I’d thought seriously about writing, just a story I made up to make my son giggle. Imagine my surprise when all the kids in the room erupted into laughter. They squealed and cheered. “Yeah! Write that!”

In the stark contrast of that moment—and the recognition that adult readers are unlikely to express quite such unabashed enthusiasm for work we’ve been laboring over for years—I glimpsed it: The true joy that children’s writers have the privilege of tapping. Who wouldn’t want to be one?

I think children’s author and literary agent Ammi-Joan Paquette describes that privilege perfectly in her March/April 2016 Writer’s Digest article on writing fantasy stories for young readers:

“How clearly I remember my childhood experiences of being catapulted into a book world. … That first tumble into Wonderland is not easily forgotten, and it’s also something that can’t quite be replicated in adult life with the same intensity. The worlds you inhabit in childhood are stitched into the fabric of who you will grow to be. How lucky we are, then, and how big a responsibility rests on our shoulders, to be the ones shaping these worlds for the next generation of readers!”

Writing for Kids and TeensA key part of this issue’s “Writing for Kids and Teens” feature package, Paquette’s article is a gold mine for those aspiring to write middle-grade or young adult, whether you aim to transport readers into a fantastical alternate universe, or simply to make the novel world in your own imagination seem just as real to them.

So, too, is the “4 on 4″ agent advice in our fast and furious roundup, in which a quartet of literary agents specializing in writing for kids and teens weigh in on four key questions that reveal what those looking to break in to the genre most need to know. As for me, if I ever do decide to write that picture book, I’ll bookmark Marie Lamba’s enlightening “10 Picture Book Pitfalls to Avoid—and How to Fix Them,” another highlight in this info-packed issue.

The March/April 2016 Writer’s Digest also says a fond goodbye to Reject a Hit and introduces new back page column Platforms of Yore, in which the literary greats of yesteryear take social media by storm. It’s a fun and collaborative effort: Read more about the column and how you, too, can Write for Platforms of Yore.

With unabashed childlike enthusiasm, we do hope you’ll preview the full contents of the March/April 2016 Writer’s Digest, download the issue instantly, or look for it now at your favorite newsstand or local library.

Yours in writing,
Jessica Strawser
Editor, Writer’s Digest magazine
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3 thoughts on “The Best Tips on Writing for Kids and Teens

  1. carasmith

    I am totally agree with Jessica. She is not only provides best tips for writing for kids but also a handy path to be a good writer in future as well. Thanks

  2. sarah123T

    I think everyone will agree with me that reading is very important for kids and teens, because books help them to develop their cognitive skills which are really important for their future success. So i think that children’s authors should seriously relate to this type of writing to ensure that they write the best children’s literature that they can. Their story does not have to be perfect, it just has to be interesting for kids and teens and has to be easy to follow. It is my opinion.

  3. JoyRay

    Thank you very much for this useful article!
    I think that kids and teens are a very good audience for the writing business! Their parents ready to buy from them a lot of books for their reading and they do it very often! But also, it can be very hard for a lot of writers! Modern teens and kids are very depraved, and it is very difficult to imprest them! But “Harry Potter” by J.K. Rowling is the best example of amazing story, and to be honest, I like it too and I am 36 years old!


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