Tuesday, February 24, 2009

So You Want to Write A Children's Book?

You know how sometimes you read someone's blog and then you get all annoyed because they're articulate and funny? And you think you should just pack it in? That's how I feel when I read Andrea at Mommy's Martini. But then she wrote this awesome whine just for us so now all is forgiven.

So You Want to Write A Children's Book?

No problem! It's so easy, really, anyone can do it. All you need to remember are a few simple guidelines.

First, do your best to commit an offense against basic common sense. There's no reason to worry about logic in a children's book! Children are irrational creatures anyway! Rearrange the normal order of things, and kids will adore the zaniness of it.

Writing a book about Daddy and Me making a dog house? Have them cut the wood first, then measure it. Only an annoying stickler with a grandfather who was a carpenter would complain about such a reversal of the normal order of things. Whereas, you will prove you are CREATIVE.

Second, be sure to write at least one passage, or offer at least one illustration, that utterly misrepresents nature.

Try some poetry along the lines of "Waterfalls with misty breath whisper as they flow. Frozen water turns to ice, and flakes form out of snow." Who cares that frozen water can't turn into ice because it is ice, or that snow is already, by definition, flakes? That's just pedantic. The poetry rhymes, doesn't it? That's what really matters. Besides, you aren't writing for that irritating logical carpenter's granddaughter, are you? You're writing for CHILDREN. They LOVE stuff like this. The more nonsensical the better. (As long as it rhymes. Obviously.)

You've heard of Doctor Seuss, haven't you? Did any of his books make sense? I think not. Whoever heard of a Zizzer zazzer zuzz? Not you. And not me. And he made a fortune. So you should just make stuff up too. Especially in books that are supposed to be realistic. It's even more clever that way.

Third, include at least one phrase or sentence that a parent of a preschooler will have to edit on the fly to avoid reading aloud. Adult readers love that! Violence, bad language, and images that will give small children nightmares are ideal for this purpose. It keeps grown-ups from getting too sleepy while they're reading when they encounter sentences like, "My mother is going to kill me" or passages about how the "whack and thwack" of a moth's wings against the window makes the child think about spankings. Trust me, they will really thank you for helping them stay focused on the book.

Also, it makes a supremely fun game for them when their own visiting parents don't know the "edit as you read" policy and begin to blurt out these things. It's sort of like an Obstacle Course Olympics to see mommies racing across rooms and up stairs to ward off the killing sentence...oh, I am weak with laughter just thinking of how much fun they all have. So do be sure not to forget this one.

And that's it. Three easy rules that will guarantee your success!

So what are you waiting for? Grab a pencil, and start writing. If you have at least half an hour before dinner, you could probably write one or two best-sellers!

In fact, I'm going to let you in on a little secret: as long as the pictures are cute and the poetry rhymes where it's supposed to, the actual ideas in the story don't matter at all. Not at all! Isn't that liberating? You can write about anything you want, in any way you want, defying as many laws of physics, grammar, nature, and punctuation as you want, and it will still be snapped up by a publisher.*

But only, and here's the kicker, ONLY if you avoid pure fantasy or the creation of imaginary worlds.

We wouldn't want to lie to the little darlings, now would we?

*Disclaimer: I have never published a book for children myself and have no means of publishing yours.


jen said...

"sun kissed meadows sparkle bright with early morning dew ... there's even water in your bath ... splashing over you!!!!"
dear god ... hint #4? make it overly annoying to the point where a mama reading blogs can recite the last two pages of the book ... without referring to said book.

TMCPhoto said...

or even recite verbatim the whole damn book in your sleep, you know in case the book gets lost.

Beth said...

I didn't realize you'd written so many children's books. Cool!

Leigh said...

LOL! So I'm not the only one who thinks Dr. Seuss was smoking a little crack while writing?

MommyTime said...

Jen, I love you. I thought I might be the only parent on earth tortured by this particular book!

TMCPhoto, ah, yes. The best part, though, is when it gets to the point where your children can recite them. At least then you can zone out a little.

Beth, *giggle*

Leigh, oh, he was on something for sure. But at least it was GOOD something!

anymommy said...

Giggling over here. We are stuck in inane repetitive counting game book hell. Five little monkeys in a tree for example. I wish that crocodile would actually eat them.

Lynn C Mama to 3 said...

You forgot to mention that if you, the author get stumped on what to do next, feel free to repeat the same line over and over and over so that eventually mommy and daddy reader are droned into a stupor.

get in here said...


Anonymous said...

I don't know this book. The curiosity is driving me batty! Please share! (So that I may avoid it, of course.)

Vodka Mom said...

that was a ROCKIN' WHINE!!!

jesus, I could NOT have said it better myself......


MommyTime said...

Anymommy, I feel your pain. I was tantrumed at for a solid ten minutes yesterday for not responding appropriately to the "read it to me" demands of my toddler, who was not satisfied with the explanation that the counting book she insisted on me reading didn't actually have a story in it.

Fawn, it's a Baby Einstein book. I don't recall the title, but it's that puffy vinyl kind of book made for kids to chew on. It drives me batty batty bonkers. Of course, my daughter loves it right now!

Domestic Goddess, you make an excellent point.

Insults and Vodka Mom, many many thanks.