My new project is a Children’s Writing course and the first assignment is asking me to consider why I want to write for children and research where in the market I think my stories will fit.
The why is easy. I made bedtime stories up for my baby brother all the time and he used to enjoy them more than any of the story books we had. When my cousin had his little girl 3 years ago and I held her for the first time I had the idea I wanted to write stories for her and have them published this time.
My idea was to write a bedtime book of adventure stories with her as the lead character. I’ve started a few of them and have a couple of other unrelated stories in part too.
In undertaking the research I found myself dusting off my library card and looking through the children’s bookshelves. I didn’t see much that I thought would have appealed to me as a child but that was a long time ago.
The books aimed at boys are all dark coloured and have slightly ghoulish cartoon characters on the cover or something sports related and the girls books are light coloured with cute girls and fairies on the covers. Nothing like an old cliché!
I had an idea from something my cousins girl said about football to write a book giving a small child a basic understanding of football. Something their football loving parent/ grandparent could sit and read to them that would be light-hearted.
So I went back to the library and instead of little girls books I looked at the boys books. As I left I felt the need to justify my selection to the librarian, I told her I’m researching children’s books for my writing course and she gave me some invaluable information.
She said ‘that’s good because we need more books for boys and they love the football stories’. Now this woman sees children come and go all the time and knows what the kids are reading so that information was a big help.
But it doesn’t make my research any easier. As with all my writing its instinctive. One day I’ll wake up and write an erotic fiction story, the next I’ll have an idea for a children’s book or a fiction story. There is no rhyme or reason for where my next bit of inspiration will come from and which market it will be aimed at.
Great for me as the ideas keep coming, even if I don’t finish them all, I have lots of work to go back to when the ideas dry up. But in terms of planning, research and knowing which ideas to focus on and market I make things hard for myself.
So I’m not sure how to finish my first assignment now. I thought I wanted to write a bedtime story book of adventure stories for girls but I’m not too sure that is marketable. I still want to write it but also write books that boys will enjoy.
I often wondered if the reason my brother doesn’t enjoy reading is because he struggled to learn and it was easier to read to him than make him read himself. He always had a good imagination but not as big as mine, which was fuelled with ideas from the stories I had read.
It turns out he thinks his dislike of reading is that fact it isn’t interactive enough and that he forgets what he read much quicker than he would if he watched or heard it.
So thanks to a librarian and my little brother I now have a much harder task. It isn’t going to be enough to write a book that appeals to a little boy, it will need to be interactive too!
I think I may need to get past assignment one before I can start to tackle that particular exercise!