Wednesday, November 04, 2009


Writing Children's Short Stories Dos and Don'ts Part 2

It's time for part two of "Writing Short Stories Dos and Don'ts." If you missed part one, you can find it here.

Now onto part deux:

Don’t use words like “she shouted” or “he exclaimed” or “she questioned” after dialogue. Don’t be afraid to repeat the word “said.” It is the best dialogue tag. Instead of having to use “said” all the time, you can also use action or setting details as dialogue tags. For example:

“When are you going to let me come into your clubhouse?” Martha stood with her nose at the door, trying to peek through a crack in the wood.

Henry sat in the middle of his clubhouse and thought about it for almost a whole second before he said, “Never.”

She stomped her foot and screamed. “I’ll just stand out here and scream until you let me in!”

Before Henry answered her, he put earplugs in his ears. “Okay.” He hummed and went back to carving his statue.

Do use humor in children’s stories. Magazine editors are always looking for humorous stories. They get tons of stories on divorce and other “serious” kid issues. These are important; but if you are a new author, try something that editors always need. (Usually, editors are looking for stories that appeal to boys, too.)

Don’t write a story for a magazine if you have never seen the magazine. Do read back issues or sample stories on a website before you start writing for the magazine. Try to find out what subjects their recent stories have covered and send something different.

Do send seasonal material at least six months in advance. Some magazines want it even further in advance. Also, check websites and magazine guidelines for themes. Brainstorm ideas to fit the themes, and think outside the box.

Don’t give up if you get one or two rejections. Look for new markets—online magazines or children’s newsletters that would be interested in publishing your fiction.

Do use Times New Roman as your font. Also, use 12 pt. font and double-space your fiction stories. Put a heading on each page—page number, your last name, and part of the title.

I hope these few dos and don'ts help everyone on their road to publication success with writing children's short stories!

Happy Writing!
Margo Dill

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, December 22, 2007



At the church I attend, a little girl has caught my
eye. She has a sweet demeanor, unless her brothers get
out of hand and she has to straighten them out a bit.
She eagerly looks forward to school each day, and will
be part of a special program for gifted students next
year. She observes the world quietly, huge eyes
missing nothing. And guess what else?

Keyona is a writer. She proudly showed me a poem she
wrote after service one Sunday and it was good.
Extremely good. And when I told her that I wanted a
copy of my own, she hugged me with a delighted giggle.

Keyona shared with me that she wants to be a writer
and have her mother illustrate her books. Her eyes lit
when I told her about journaling, writing
her thoughts and experiences in her own private book,
for her eyes only. She dreams about owning one in
light blue, her favorite color.

Keyona’s mother told me that the nine-year old writes
constantly, about anything and everything, and how
she’s started buying notebooks and writing pads for
her. Her excitement and pride are barely contained and
rightfully so.

Reminds me of another nine-year old who wanted to be a
writer too, but she planned to illustrate her own
books. Her mother kept her liberally supplied with
writing materials, doing whatever she could to help
her child develop her craft, including enrolling her
in a summer writing program. It took a number of
years, but Mom’s investment worked and I’ve begun to
walk in my writing call.

As you invest in your writing, keep an eye out for the
younger writers you may encounter. Spend some time
sharing your experiences with poetry or songwriting.
Point them to the growing numbers of websites
specifically for teen and child writers. Maybe there’s
a short story waiting to be co-written by you and a
young daughter or niece. Books, magazine
subscriptions, courses and conferences related to
writing make great gifts for these young authors.

I look forward to spending more time with Keyona,
passing on the craft.

And hunting for a light blue journal ready to share
secrets with a delightful nine-year old.

Jill Earl

Labels: , ,