Monday, April 7, 2008

Children's Lit Bits: The Age is the Thing

For those of you who regularly follow the Road to Publication, you know I'm working in children's lit these days through a course at the Institute for Children's Literature. For those of you just dropping in, now you know, too. Isn't catching up grand?

I love this course. And not just because I happen to have an instructor who loves me. I love it because I'm learning so much. To be honest, I thought I knew the ins and outs of children's writing. I took the course for the one-on-one feedback. And I get plenty of terrific feedback. But I've also learned a ton of children's lit tidbits. And I thought, gee, why don't I share? Maybe some little bit will make the difference in that children's story you're working on.

Like the age thing. I'd written a dozen stories and never given much thought to the age of my main character. But here's the thing: the age of your main character determines your reading level. That's important to know. You don't want to write a story at a fifth grade level if your main character is six and a half years old. I had some revising to do in more than one story. In every single instance, the story improved.

Just that one little bit made all the difference.