Several months ago a woman with the Institute of Children's Literature contacted me and asked if I'd like to be in the Winner's Circle on their website. The ICL is where I started my writing journey. My desire at the time was to learn to write for children who were in the middle grades. I applied and took the course which consisted of ten lessons to be done through correspondence over 18 months to 2 years.
The lessons were sent by snail mail, and I had to wait a few weeks to receive my personal instructor's comments, which she mailed to me via snail mail, as well. Now, I'm sure it is done through email and far speedier.
If you would like to read the interview, you will find it here. The ICL likes to feature one of their graduates who has been published. I felt very honored to have been asked since I had graduated quite some time ago.
I took the course around twenty-five years ago and loved learning and doing the lessons. My earliest publications were stories for children. Two of the magazine covers in which my stories have appeared are above. I've also had stories in several other children's' magazines and on ezines in the USA and Canada as well as a children's magazine titled Red Squirrel published in China.
Is it worth taking a course from someplace like the ICL? I think it is, especially if you are at the beginning of your writing journey. The ICL has been in business since 1969. That's 50 years which should say something about the quality of the lessons they offer. I'm sure there are other places where you can take a course to learn to write for children and some that offer lessons for those interested in various kinds of writing for adults--fiction, memoir, essays, poetry etc. Have your old friend, Google, help you find them. The Institute for Writers is a partner of the ICL but geared to adult writing.
Do some checking as to the quality of the course, how satisfied the graduates are, length of time the courses have been offered and what kind of help they give in helping you to become a published writer.
There are people in this world who think writing for children is easy. Believe me, it's not. You have a lot to cover in a minimum number of words. Adult fiction can be thousands of words, but most children's publications max at 800-1000. Even so, you are to tell a story with a beginning, middle and ending and solve whatever problem your protagonist might have. Writing for very young children allows for an even smaller word count. Each word holds importance. Nothing wasted here.
Write for teens or YA as it is termed, and your word count will increase considerably. Plots must be more involved, and those who write for this age group must write with all the same requirements as those who write for adults but need to gear it to their age group. The cardinal rule is to not write 'down' to kids. They nab it every time and quickly move on.
I am the perfect example of a writer who learned to write for children, then expanded her horizons to include essays, memoir, nonfiction articles, fiction for adults and poetry. And blogging! If you learn the basics for any kind of writing, you can move into other genres.
I still enjoy writing for children on occasion, although it is not my main thrust now. I recently started a new story called Henry and Boomer. I managed to get Henry into a nasty situation but haven't figured out the ending of the story yet. A half-finished first draft is simmering in my files. One of these days, the end will come to me, and I'll pull out the draft and work on it again.
Have you ever walked through the children's section in your library or local bookstore? You should take some time and browse the collection. It's a big part of the publishing world. Getting a children's book or story published is not easy. It is every bit as competitive as the adult writing world.
Again, I hope you'll take a couple of minutes and read my interview.
I had a