The "voice" of the story or poem, when writing for young kids, is one of the most important elements that is often overlooked.
|The best voice for writing for children is hiding, inside the child inside of you.|
Instead of thinking about the process as writing for children, think of it as writing from the child in you. Let the child speak. If the child honestly and imaginatively speaks the truth, other children will listen.
The first step in developing an appealing voice for your young readers is to imagine yourself whispering a big secret to one very special child. See that child in your mind's eye and begin writing your poem or story to that one child as though you are drawing them in real close.
Now in a big-eyed, hushed voice that is about to reveal the most exciting secret they have ever heard, begin your poem or story as though they are sitting in front of you on the edge of their seat, breathlessly awaiting your wonderful tale. Imagine your poem or story as beginning with those magical words, "Now listen to this..."
Everyone has their own breathless, natural, magical voice within them. It is hiding somewhere back there in your own childhood when the world held such wonderful mysteries that you could hardly wait to discover them all. Back when clouds were not clouds, but long-tailed dragons and endless fleets of flying ships. When the shades of trees across the sidewalks were not simply afternoon shadows, but were dangerous dungeons around which you must step in order to make your way home.
Begin your poems and stories with that same childlike sense of wonderment and excitement. Enter the poem with a sense of discovery. Trust your verbal instincts. Let your poem take you where it wants to go. Let it surprise you. If it does, it will be a keeper.
Write wildly and recklessly. The rhythms and momentum of your tale take you to each new moment of the story. Do not stop until you discover on the page or screen something you did not know you knew until you wrote it. That's when the good stuff happens.
Sometimes those inspired moments are rare, but the more journeys you take in that direction, the more rare gems of poems and stories you will create until they are no longer rare, but simply a procession of poems leading on and on into a life time of memorable poems for children of all ages, just like you, just like the ageless child in you.
That's where your best voice for writing for children is hiding, inside the child inside of you. Once you've rediscovered that child, that voice, it's yours again forever. The child in you speaking to the children of the world. Find it. Speak it. Enjoy it. It's always been there waiting for you, waiting to take you back home to where the best stories and poems are still waiting to be told.
A Poem Is A Little Path
A poem is a little path
That leads you through the trees.
It takes you to the cliffs and shores,
To anywhere you please.
Follow it and trust your way
With mind and heart as one,
And when the journey’s over,
You’ll find you’ve just begun.
Read Charles Ghigna's excerpts from his poetry books.
Charles Ghigna (aka "Father Goose") is a poet, children's author, and nationally syndicated feature writer who helps promote the love of children's literature by speaking at schools, colleges, conferences, and libraries. Charles is the author of more than thirty books of poetry for children and adults. He can be found at http://charlesghigna.com/