Wanted: Fiction Writers for Kids
Guest post by Sheila Seifert
Focus on the Family magazine
Have you heard the bad news? The children’s book market is down. Publishers aren’t buying kids’ fiction, and those who do almost don’t pay anything for it. [Insert heavy sighs and depressed teenage groans.]
Of course, I’ve heard these common complaints for decades, yes, 20 years. Those erroneous rumors didn’t stop me from co-authoring seven children’s books, with the newest being released this May: Bible Kidventures: Stories of Danger and Courage. But if you reckon those rumors are real, there are only two routes to take: Give up your dream or carry on with what God has called you to do — write.
All my children’s books sell as fiction, but five in this family are, in fact, creative nonfiction — stories that are factually true, in my case Bible stories, and written using literary techniques. Creative nonfiction, like a misunderstood child, is able to reveal truth about an experience. The best creative nonfiction starts with what really happened — in the Bible, science, history or even your own life. Then literary techniques are applied to it as a much-needed canvas-cover over stark tent poles.
Consider the presentation of David and Goliath in this free download. The way it is set up, not just the story, moves it into the arena of creative nonfiction. The genre itself includes not only personal essays, but also writings about food, travel and individuals. These articles and books range from the blog-like style of Ann Voscamp’s 1000 Gifts to personal reflections, memoirs and chronicles. Yet how the story is presented makes the nonfiction manuscript even more accessible to readers.
There is no limit to what you can write for children using nonfiction topics and fiction techniques. And the market for it continues to grow. Teachers need creative nonfiction in the classroom — in science, math, social studies and English classes. Sunday school teachers need it. Book clubs are looking for it. And parents like books that help their kids learn as they read. Children, teachers and parents make this market a burgeoning base of revenue.
So what makes good creative nonfiction for kids? Good research, the balance between knowing what you can fictionalize and what you can’t, and choosing the right fiction techniques for your story. If you’d like to learn more about this trending category of writing, consider coming to my Wednesday workshop at the 2016 Colorado Christian Writers Conference called “Writing Creative Nonfiction for Kids.” You won’t regret it.
And if you don’t believe me, here’s what Jessica Strawser wrote in an article on the Writers’ Digest Blog: “All nonfiction should be creative nonfiction.” I couldn’t agree more, especially when it’s written for kids.