The Do’s & Don’ts of Writing KidLit – Should You Listen?

As a new author, I spend hours reading blogs, interviews and books on the right way to write. Even conferences provide a line up of agents, editors and published authors telling you what to do and what not to do. After a while, it’s enough for a writer’s head to spin.

What I have found is that if you ask enough agents and editors, you will get conflicting reports. I believe that is why many rejection letters state “this isn’t the project for me.” Your manuscript, your story, your style hasn’t found the right home.

This theory is being confirmed as I read published MG books and prepare to submit my manuscript to a list of mentors for Pitch Wars. In the past, I have heard there are limits to blood, themes, and sophistication of language (not the four letter variety). I’m reading a MG book with my 10 y.o. that contains words I have to look up (and I have 2 advanced degrees) and sentence structure that makes it incredibly cumbersome to read. In Pitch Wars, a number of mentors’ wish lists were asking for “rule breakers” and stories that lean toward dark and bloody (not guns). This is all against what I have heard.

So, what should you do?

Write your story. Tell it your way. Plot Plot Plot. Have rich characters with a voice that is true and strong. Have heart/action/humor. Have good pacing. Join a critique group. Listen to feedback. Revise. Keep moving forward.

Don’t – take every rule as the gospel. An agent once told a group of writers, “you can break the rules… as long as you do it well.”


As long as you follow your passion, your heart and keep reading, you will find that home for your story. I firmly believe that!


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