How to write a children’s pony story
If you – like me – grew up on an undiluted literary diet of Ruby Ferguson and the
Pullein-Thompson sisters and are, or would like to be a writer, what better inspiration could you find than their wonderful stories.
What could be more fun than writing for children about the pony world. Children are great fun to write for; their imaginations are so vivid that they appreciate a writer’s creativity.
How to find inspiration
Fancy trying your hand at writing for children but haven’t got inspired yet? Re-read some of your favourite books, chose a story that fits your interests, such as fantasy, action or mystery.
If you have children of your own, involve them in your brainstorming session. What their minds will come up with may send in a whole new direction and to new levels of creativity!
Part of the great fun of writing a children’s story is that it doesn’t need to be realistic. Although there are some incredible exceptions the biggest difference between children’s and adult books is that you can write about talking ponies, or other animals.
The world depicted in most children’s stories is bright, colourful and optimistic; the personality of the main character should have mostly positive traits, such as bravery, intelligence, humour, beauty and so on. However, don’t automatically dismiss dark stories, there are some very successful children’s series on the market at the moment but do decide if this is appropriate for the age level of your readers.
Once you have an idea for your story you need to come up with some interesting characters. Decide who is the main character or characters of the story? Before you begin, make an outline of the characters and how they fit into the story. In order to get to know your characters better make detailed notes of the world they inhabit.
Write a story outline
Unless you’re writing for a very young age level where it’s appropriate not to have a traditional plot it is helpful to plan the story structure in advance. This will give you an understanding of the beginning, middle and end of the story, and of how the characters will interact and evolve. A good story must have some sort of conflict or obstacle that the main character has to resolve, after which everyone lives “happily ever after.”
Write with flair
For young children, focus on silly things that will have both the child and the adult reader laughing together; use made-up words and simple rhyming schemes. Dr. Seuss will give you a great idea of how this is done to great effect. Show, don’t tell – this statement is true for whatever age you write for. Show what is happening through speech and action not through flat statements. Your writing should be of the best quality, to encourage young readers to love their language and to want to read more.
Illustrations can make or break a book. For young children especially illustrations are essential, they add to the interest level of the story and make it easier to follow.
Be age appropriate
Make sure your writing is age appropriate. For example, smaller children enjoy stories with simple plots, plays on words and repeated phrases. Older children want a more intricate plot and a tone that appreciates that they are becoming more mature.
Ages 3 to 5 years: Use sentences with a low level of complexity that explain the motivation behind actions shown on the page. Themes include: adventures; a pony or animal getting lost and finding its way home; thinking of others before yourself; explaining how you feel; learning how to resolve arguments; deal with disappointment.
Ages 5 to 7 years: Use bigger words but be careful with them so as not to frustrate new readers. At this point, books can be long enough to read over two or three nights with a parent’s help. Themes include: overcoming challenges; learning new skills; understanding good reasons to do something and bad reasons to do something; helping solve problems.