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55. How to Tell Children’s Stories

55. How to Tell Children’s Stories

I’m going to turn the meat of this segment over to podcaster storyteller Jake Warner, whose podcast, “Taletalesaudio” will give you several really fantastic tips on telling children’s stories.

He describes how to keep children engaged in your story and some of the tropes you can use to make those stories more interesting.

Before you go, here is what Margot Finke had to say about writing picture books.

Choose Adjectives and Verbs the Way a Jeweler Selects Gems

Verbs — strong and powerful verbs are a picture book writer’s best friend. Strong active verbs help you craft text that grabs the young reader, and keeps their interest.

Adjectives — don’t fall for the idea that if one adjective is good, two more will work wonders. Like a jeweler choosing the perfect gems for a necklace, unearth adjectives that are perfect gems.

Look for great verbs and adjectives where they hang out — your Thesaurus. Shift F7 brings up Windows Thesaurus. Roget’s Thesaurus is another. Successful writers always keep a good Thesaurus handy. Combining wonderful adjectives, and action-oriented verbs, pushes you to the head of the picture book class.

Tight Writing Shows Rather Than Tells

What does tight writing and “show don’t tell” really mean? It means don’t waffle on with countless descriptions, or wander away from the main point of your story. Get to the action ASAP. And don’t “tell” your reader what happened. Devise actions and reactions that “show” what happened and how the characters behaved. Dialogue, combined with actions and reactions, makes your story come alive. A lot of telling simply makes it DOA.

The rest of the article is a fantastic (and concise) guide to writing picture books effectively.

Wait, one last thing. Take a look at this clip from the 1971 version of Dr. Seuss’ The Cat In The Hat and ask yourself why this works as a children’s story. You might need to reread Margot’s article or listen to Jake’s podcasts a few more times. Come up with your answer and leave it in the comments.

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