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Planning Ahead with a Book For Children

Just thought I would write an update about the progress of the children’s book I’m currently writing to sort of demonstrate what happens in the early stages of book production and how it all works.

As far as writing goes I have a first draft of the story completed but am now working my way back through the story, editing out all the superfluous ‘stuff’ and introducing new ideas that build the story and create more interest. I enjoy this part of the process immensely.

But I need to look forward too…I have already decided on the layout for the book, what font I will use, the spacing (leading) and the general ‘look’ of the book. I find this important too. I need to be able to ‘see’ the book in my own mind, and get a feel for the entire package.

This is particularly relevant to this book which I would like to turn into an audio book, so I need to also think about packaging and length of the story (word count)…..that has a bearing on whether the story will need two CDs or three. Packaging sells books. Get it wrong and it’s curtains. Get it right and it can mean a massive increase in sales.

I find it useful to buy best selling children’s books currently on the market and take a look at half a dozen of them to see what seems to be working for the writer and publisher – what’s the word count for example?

I just checked a David Walliams book and the word count comes out at around 29,000 words (give or take) for 265 pages. You need to know this kind of info if you’re going to compete with the very best. Find out what works for them and then keep that in mind when you’re producing and publishing your book.

More later as and when it happens.

Give Your Characters Great Names

There are zillions of articles and posts online about finding the perfect name for your fictional characters, and of course lots of advice about what not to call your hero or heroine. But is any of it relevant today? I believe it still is.

We all know as writers that we like to push the boundaries now and then and break the rules as often as we can get away with it, but there are still names we should be wary of….and use them at our peril.

Take a look at any children’s fiction section in your local bookstore and have a quick peek at the names of the main characters in  the first half dozen books you pick up, and my guess is you’ll find quite a lot of Jacks and Harrys and Hannahs…they’re popular names, they’re obvious, too obvious really. So, my advice is, steer clear.

I almost fell into the ‘too popular name’ trap recently when I named the main character in the children’s book I’m working on Oliver…I wrote it without thinking and it did have a nice ring to it with his surname (no, not Twist!), but on reflection I decided to ditch the Oliver. I’m still thinking about a better name but the one I’m working with at the moment is Ozzie. I really like it, what do you reckon? Still too popular?

I have to admit, just by changing the name I felt he was a different character altogether…odd that don’t you think? Maybe not.

I also sent off a very brief email to the chap who will do the illustrations for me and he replied that it would make a difference to the way he sketched out the character…..interesting.

My one piece of advice is ‘think it over carefully’…don’t just settle for the first name that springs to mind, and try and be original without being too bizarre….. Hannibal? Brutus? Geranium?