What Not To Do When Writing Children’s Books

by Lisa Balthazar

Just as writing children’s books has a unique set of rules to follow (you know that the good guy or gal always wins), there are some things you should never do — never! Don’t even consider doing any of the following in a book for children:

  • Write books that preach or lecture.
  • Talk down to children as if they’re small, idiotic adults.
  • Write books that have no real story (nor a plot with beginning, middle, end).
  • Use art that is totally inappropriate for the story or vice versa.
  • Pack picture books with lots of text.
  • Pack nonfiction books with too much text and too few visuals.
  • Create characters who are boring or unnecessary to the development of the story.
  • Create main characters who have a problem they don’t solve themselves or who don’t change throughout the course of the story.
  • Tell instead of showing by using narrative as a soapbox.
  • Anthropomorphize animals or use alliterative names (Squishy Squirrel, Morty Mole — Wretched Writer)

About the Author

childrens book editing services by Lisa BLISA BALTHAZAR is a publishing executive and book editor with over 20 years’ experience in the industry. She currently works with writers who intend to self-publish as well as writers who are preparing query letters and book proposals for literary agents and traditional publishers.

Lisa was Editorial/Publishing Director for Golden Books, Price Stern Sloan-Penguin Random House, Intervisual Books, Gateway Learning Corp (Hooked on Phonics), and other established publishing houses.

As an editor, Lisa has helped hundreds of published authors hone their skills as writers. She is always a writer’s toughest critic but biggest cheerleader.

Lisa's critique letter and developmental editing includes character development and character arc, storyline and plot points, drama and conflict, pacing, dialogue, writing style, effective transitions and chapter breaks, grammar, formatting, PLUS any issues with your novel you might not be aware of.

"Lisa is an excellent editor. She has edited several manuscripts for me that were sent to my agent who accepted them without change and sent them on to various publishing houses. They were published with a minimum of editing, thanks to Lisa's insightful and enlightened work. I highly recommend her." —Ellen Jones

Quick tips for children's book writers:

  • If your character hasn't changed at the end of your story, chances are he isn't yet fully fleshed out.

  • If your character talks to himself or does a lot of wondering aloud, he needs a friend to talk to.

  • Don't create main characters who have a problem they don't solve themselves or who don't change throughout the course of the story.
  • Don't talk down to children as if they're small, idiotic adults.

FREEBIE: Lisa's clients receive her Manuscript Formatting and Grammar Guide.

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