The Grown-Up Art of Writing for Children
This course will focus on writing for children, while keeping in mind the fact that people of all ages read the stories written for younger people. We will read and discuss selected works each week, ranging from picture books to young adult novels. Along the way students will meet Skippyjon Jones, Auggie Pullman of WONDER, and Bryon Douglas of THAT WAS THEN, THIS IS NOW among other memorable characters. In addition, there will be weekly writing assignments and in-class exercises, culminating in one larger work each student will focus on for the second half of the semester. We will study what makes a good story, how to create vivid characters and bring them to life, building fictional worlds, the writing process itself, the importance of revising, and a practical guide to getting published. We will talk about trends in children’s literature from vampires and wizards to reality-based fiction. A portion of each class will also be dedicated to workshop time to share and critique each other’s work. I will invite an author to visit our class to talk about his or her experience as a published writer. This past semester I also had the founder and president of a successful, local publishing house speak to the class about the business side of writing. I would love to invite him back as well. Advanced fiction writing experience is not required, but students must be willing to stretch their writing skills, take risks, be open to sharing their work with the rest of the class, and be eager to read and critique other students’ work.