The lights of the shop have been turned down, the chefs have gone home from the cafe, and the office staff have closed their computers. But the day is not over: every Tuesday evening, Jo Kelsey runs a pilates class for adults in our first floor studio. And every other Tuesday, Vic and I run workshops for aspiring illustrators and writers. Here are some photographs from last week’s Tuesday activities, and here are seven tips that came out of the writing workshop:

1.       If you are writing a picture book text, think about how the drama will unfold with the turning pages. Present your manuscript with the text divided into these pages, so that it is clear to the commissioning editor that you have thought through the child-parent read-aloud experience.

2.       If you are writing fiction for older children, road-test your manuscript on children outside your immediate circle of friends and family. Young readers are usually very flattered to be invited to read an unpublished text and a few supportive quotes from readers in your target age group will show that you are in close contact with your market.

3.       Sign up for local writers’ groups – peer support and feedback will keep you going through difficult periods and provide a nice balance to the solitary labour of writing.

4.       Write about what you know, love and are inspired by.

5.       Talk to your local children’s librarian – librarians are often very well placed to know what is on the market and what themes are popular.

6.       Don’t write down to your audience. Children are far brighter than most adults give them credit for. If you are writing for new readers, you will need to be careful about vocabulary levels but bear in mind that there is a subtle yet significant difference between being simple and being simplistic.

7.       Listen to your critics, be flexible and be prepared to persevere.

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