So you have a brilliant idea: “I must write a children’s book. The kids will love it!” Or maybe you do not have any ideas yet, but you have always wanted to be a children’s book author and you feel strongly that the time has come. What do you do? Every journey begins with a first step, and every story begins with an idea.
Ideas can come to you from out of the blue. This happened to me and I incorporated the idea into writing Nosey Charlie Comes To Town. But magical ideas don’t always appear this way. If you want to write your first children’s book and no ideas are percolating in your head, you need help. The writing industry employs all kinds of methods to generate ideas, but first you must decide if your story will be non-fiction or fiction. If you plan to write non-fiction, your story will be based on things or people in real life, therefore, it will be a matter of researching the subject, using your own knowledge, and determining the angle you wish to focus on.
In this article and subsequent ones, my focus will be on fiction stories in which you use your wild imagination to concoct the narrative.
You have been around for a while; you have lived a full live. You have many experiences. You could use some of these experiences, or tap into your more recent exciting forays, or delve into your childhood days for story ideas. You are sure to find past experiences or events that you can shape into a new children’s story. Remember when you first attended kindergarten and you held onto your mother and wouldn’t let go? You can build upon such an idea.
Another way to generate ideas is to make old stories new. In other words, come up with a new way of looking at an old story. Angela Carter is excellent at doing this, however, her stories are for adults. Ecclesiastes tells us that there is nothing new under the sun. You may be able to write a story like Goldilocks, but instead of three bears, it’s about three raccoons and they are brothers—not Mama and Papa, and baby, and it was not a pretty golden-haired girl who came upon their home in the woods, but a mischievous boy.
Or, how about an intriguing story in the news recently? You could mould it into a tale of pure joy by changing the characters, adding dialogue, and adding character idiosyncrasies—the potential is limitless. If these ideas do not work, you can resort to some proven methods such as brainstorming, mind mapping, visual prompts—photographs, and even musical prompts.
Next article: “You don’t know everything. Research, research.”