The “Writing for Children” Course

Want to write stories for children? 

Lesley Beake understands your frustrations and has developed this course to help you succeed as a writer.

Overcome Obstacles

Do you lack the confidence or skill to move the stories from your head onto the written page?

With Tried and Tested Tools

This course provides tools, honed over a 35-year writing career, to make the writing process simple, successful and fun.

To Write your Stories

You can experience the satisfaction and happiness that a completed manuscript brings.

“Thank you very much for the excellent course. I found it challenging, stimulating, helpful, enlightening and most enjoyable.”

Who is Lesley Beake?

Lesley is an award-winning author who has published more than 90 children’s books (translated into 8 languages) over the past 35 years. She knows what she’s talking about.

More about her later

Course Modules

1. Introduction
2. A child’s point of view
3. Practicalities
4. Voice, clues, structure
5. Empathy
6. Readers again, always
7. Landscape of dreams
8. Beginnings
9. Middles
10. Endings

An interview with Lesley about Writing for Children

Are you a writer?

Is this for you?

Here’s the thing. It doesn’t matter who you are. Anyone can be a writer, maybe not a good writer, but a writer nonetheless. If you have the urge to write, all you have to do is write. If you don’t start, you’ll never know how good you are.

Just write. It’s such simple advice, but if it were easy, you would be doing it. You are here because you are stuck. Perhaps you don’t have the time, or the skill, or ideas, or the confidence or {fill in the blank} to write. Whatever it is, the important thing is that you’re here now and help is at hand.

You are in exactly the right place at exactly the right time and you are exactly the person that Lesley Beake had in mind when she developed this course. She knows what you’re going through and she will teach you everything that goes into her writing process in this detailed course.

Not Your Typical Writing Course

Click the arrow below to hear Lesley talk about what the course offers.

The “Writing for Children” course may come as a refreshing surprise to you. Like the creative process, it does not follow a straight line. She will take you on an interesting journey with twists and turns and switchbacks as she guides you through the writing process in her gentle, humorous manner.

She has used this successful method in residential retreats that she has run internationally for many years and is thrilled to be able to offer it to you now as an online course for the first time.

The beauty of her system is that you can dip into any of the 10 modules whenever you want to. Apart from her guidance and advice, there are more than 40 writing exercises sprinkled throughout to help you master the skills.

Take a few minutes to listen to “Kubi the star” by Lesley Beake below to get a sense of her style. If you have children, turn up the volume and gather them around too.

Have you tried writing courses before?

“Kubi the star”

Written and read by Lesley Beake

Press the arrow on the left below to start the story

This is the charming story of Kubi, the star of the school play. Lesley’s sense of humour delights both adults and children in this reading.

More about Lesley Beake

Award-winning author

Lesley Beake was born in Scotland and moved to South Africa in her teens. After training as a teacher at Rhodes University, she spent more than a decade teaching in small towns all over South Africa. This experience shaped her successful ability to communicate empathetically with her focus group.

After a period abroad, she returned to South Africa with the desire to write for children. She was then where you are now, about to start her first book, so she knows how to guide you through this process. Lesley now has 90 books in print in 8 languages, including Japanese.

Over the years she has won many prestigious writing awards. Her nomination for the Astrid Lindgren Award contained this description of her work:

“Her well-researched books are celebrations and compassionate explorations into the rich, glorious diversity of the many African cultures. Lesley’s books cover, with depth, compassion and wonderful humour, a range of cultural themes as well as a comprehensive range of human issues children of all ages experience. Lesley offers stories for young people to think and play with, great models of compassion, kindness, robust humour, problem solving, and always … hope.”

Melissa Heckler, co-chair of the
Anne Izard Storytellers’ Choice Award Committee

"The true alchemists do not change lead into gold; they change the world into words."

William H. Gass

"Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco."

John Doe

What’s included?

i

10 Modules

40+ Exercises

Free Downloads

Confidence

Happiness

Course Curriculum

Click on each module heading to expand it and click again to collapse it.

Preface

Writing Life – Writing For Children
Free Sample 1
Free Sample 2
Free Sample 3

Introduction

A word about books for children
Kinds of books
How do you find them?
Who to read
About grammar and dictionaries

MODULE 1: Beginnings

Beginning
Catching your reader
Hooks to the adults who choose children’s books
It’s in the detail
Six thoughts on writing for children
Kinds of literature for children
Conclusions

MODULE 2: A child's point of view

Reading – and flat-plans
Children
Genres
Who are you writing for?
Universal stories
Where do your ideas come from?

MODULE 3: Practicalities

Treasure chest and toolbox
Where do you write?
Time to write
Time to read
Tools: Spellcheck, Grammar Check, Word Count
Balancing your manuscript
Memories of childhood
Empathy with the reader

MODULE 4: Voice, Clues, Structure, Planning

How long does it take?
Research
Voice – first person or third person?
Talking animals and animals as characters
Two points … and a note on writing generally
Leaving clues
Structure and planning
Time, memory and history
Research and accuracy
Balance and time travel

MODULE 5: Empathy - Getting under the skin of your characters

Voice – yours, theirs – hero or heroine
Who are your characters?
Small people in books
Names
Respecting their stories
Empathise with the reader
Setting their scene
Repetition – and getting bored

MODULE 6: Readers – again, always

What kind of book are you writing?
Read aloud … read alone?
Reading surprises
Subversive writing for children
Reading levels
Concepts and reading levels
Picture books for older children
Read first … then fly

MODULE 7: Landscape of dreams

Landscape
The restraint of description
A sense of place
Memory and place
Lifeways
Endless notes
Colours
Sounds, scents, touch
On being influenced …

MODULE 8: Beginnings – the power of words

First words
A sense of place
Setting their scene
Index card method
Fragments
Listening
Dialogue
Describing how the character spoke
Keeping the reader

MODULE 9: Middles: big, middling and spreading

A different kind of reading
Profile your reader
Stereotypes
Backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards
Humour
Keep the plot moving
Controversy and criticism

MODULE 10: Endings – such sweet sorrow

Reaching the end … at last
Technical terms
Reading your own words
How to achieve the cutting
Some endings are better than others
Character growth
Why am I doing this to myself?
Finishing and submitting
Revision
Some encouragement to end with
Who to read, who to learn from?
Summing up

Course Taster

Try this writing exercise to experience what this course is like.

Children and writing for them

There are two schools of thought about this.

  1. It has to be super easy because it is only for young people.
  2. It must be incredibly difficult because it is for young people.

Then there is my school of thought (the one I naturally prefer).

I believe that all good writing comes from the same places – your heart and your memory. Whatever age group you aim your talent at, the story has to be good, the pace has to keep the reader’s attention and the language has to be appropriate for the age group you are thinking about. Beyond that, if it is going to succeed, it has to be excellent.

I would go as far as to say that the younger the reader, the more excellent you have to be. Saying something deep and meaningful in twenty words is far more difficult than spreading it out over twenty pages.

Have a look at this.

  • Palio was scared.
  • Palio felt very afraid.
  • Palio shivered as cold fingers of fear touch his neck.
  • Palio’s heartbeat quickened. He looked behind him – nothing. He listened carefully – nothing. His whole body was tuned in to danger. But where was it?

Reading and writing exercise

Now choose a paragraph in a book you are reading – a book for teenagers. If you aren’t reading at least one, you should be if you want to be writing for them. Even if teenagers aren’t your reading target, you will find some of the best stories (and the best writing) at this stage.

Read your chosen paragraph carefully. Now sum it up in three words.

Now write it back up again, in your own words, to about 25 words (as in the example given here). You can go off in any direction you like. Here is my attempt.


Palio touched the cold steel bars and shook with fear. There was great danger. But where was it? Like a wild beast, it would spring on him. But when?


A note on language level:
If you have a good look, you will notice that the number of words also allows for more difficult ideas (and more difficult words). Reading level is a notoriously difficult concept, and requires experience, but it would be possible to make an educated guess that the four examples above might be for ages 5 (maybe), 8 (maybe), 10 (maybe) and 12 (maybe). There are many factors that can influence these guesses – is the story being read aloud? Or read alone? Is the text being read in home language, or not? But the trend is fairly clear.

A note on word counts:
You can use your common sense. My example is 29 words. That’s acceptable, although I asked for 25. But if a publisher asks for 300, don’t hit them with 30 000. They won’t like it. (Or read it!)

“I would go so far as to say that the younger the reader, the more excellent you have to be.”

“Even if teenagers aren’t your reading target, you will find some of the best stories (and the best writing) at this stage.”

Imagine …

  • Imagine being a writer.
  • Imagine the joy you’ll experience as your characters come to life and your story begins to flow from your head to your hand.
  • Imagine loving the writing process as you overcome your frustration and stuckness.
  • Imagine the intense satisfaction of holding a completed version of your manuscript in your hands for the first time.
  • Imagine the feeling of watching a child read what you’ve written, unable to put it down, completely engrossed.
  • Imagine how proud you will be of achieving your dream.

… this could be you

FAQ

Frequently asked questions

When does the course start and finish?

It is a completely self-paced online course. You decide when you start, how fast you go and when you finish. You may want to work through from Module 1 to 10 or you may want to dip into whichever module takes your fancy. You have access to all the modules from day one.

How long do I have access to the course?

You have unlimited access to the “Writing for Children” course including any updates we make to it during the course of its lifetime. You can keep anything you download forever.

What if I am unhappy with the course?

If you are unsatisfied, we would love to know why as we are constantly striving to improve. Please contact us within 30 days of your purchase if you require a refund for whatever reason.

Do I have to write a book?

Not at all. If you are writing a book, this course will help you with all the various aspects of the process, but if you prefer to write short stories of for your own enjoyment, you will get just as much out of this course.

Do I have to write for children?

The main focus of this course is on writing for a younger audience, from picture books to young adult fiction. However, the advice given and the skills acquired can be applied to any genre.

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"5 Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Started Writing for Children" by Lesley Beake.

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