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Writing for Today’s Children: Workshop with Greta Yorke – 31st January 2024

Greta Yorke, our workshop leader, led us through a highly informative and interactive session exploring further the topic of Writing for Today’s Children.

Greta is a member of our club and has published a novel for middle grade readers, In the Dark, several children’s picture books, including Tartan Witch and Prickle Picker with illustrations by AWC member Maggie Bolton.  She is also a regular speaker at local primary schools and introduces children to her stories.

Getting creative with a 5-minute exercise in continuous free writing, 3 seemingly disparate words from Greta were embedded throughout pieces shared by several members.

Advice from Greta:

– access the children’s age group you’re writing for e.g. grandchildren, relatives, schools, and clubs

– find out what they’re doing

– listen to how they speak

– today’s children are far more sophisticated, with access to the internet and social media

– some cosy stories of the classics are no longer of much interest

– perhaps because of Covid, a lot of older children are reading books for younger children

– many books are heavily illustrated

– a visit to the library can reveal popular books of today. At primary schools, Greta took the opportunity to compile a questionnaire, issued to 200 local children, aged 10-11, to glean information on:

What Children of Today Like to Read

Adventure, mystery, and humour came top with Sci-Fi at bottom.  Some surprising results sparked discussion among members.

Preferred Authors

Largely unknown names, but Roald Dahl still made the list, possibly because various works have been adapted for cinema, TV, and theatre.

What type of books would you like to read that have not yet been written?

The list included a story about orphans, and a child with ADHD, dyslexia, or autism.

Members were invited to choose one of the ideas and write the start of a story.  We were entertained with suspense, a possible murder, humour, fantasy adventure and a story of hope concerning a child with autism.

Further advice from Greta, especially for those entering the upcoming competition on Children’s Fiction was:

– start your story with EXCITEMENT

– use dialogue

– ask a question

– use a sound like Bang! Crack!

– character description

– setting description

– action

A story starter idea could be:

If I’d never learned to time travel, none of this would have happened.

During the break we were able to browse a selection of children’s books, provided by Greta, including Captain Underpants.

Greta read us a chapter from a beautifully written story by her grandchild, an avid reader and writer.  She also read us the first chapter of her novel In the Dark, about a boy with mental health issues and problems with life, and at school, the main message being it helps to talk.

The evening ended with a huge thanks to Greta for sharing her advice and wealth of experience in writing for today’s children, and for helping members prepare for the competition on Children’s Fiction on 14 February.

Louise Cawson





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