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Writing for children: Mistakes to avoid

Starting a mini-series on rookie errors to avoid with your children’s books, Amy Sparkes starts with the writing itself

The whole process of writing a children’s story can be mindboggling. Will children like it? Are the characters original? Is the word count okay? Is the language age-appropriate? What should you do when you finish your story? Send to an agent? A publisher? Your mum? And when your story is published, what then?

This month marks the start of a three-part series, looking at 10 Mistakes Not To Make: Writing, Submitting, and After Publication. Being aware of potential pitfalls should help make the whole process quicker, smoother and a little less bogglesome to the mind.

1 Don’t read widely

When you come up with an idea, stop. Read. Researching what’s already ‘out there’ will show you what publishers like, the length of books, the type of vocabulary used, and a feel of whether your idea has already been covered. Reading also generates new ideas. This isn’t cheating – no-one will send the Gruffalo after you for being inspired by another author.

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Writing Competition Special 2017 – win over £570,000 in more than 200 competitions! Break into young adult fiction Money matters: • How to expand your writing income online • Should you ever write for free? • How much do authors really earn? 20 packed pages of writing opportunities in Writers' News Star interview with Eowyn Ivey, author of international bestseller The Snow Child

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