Writing Children's Novels

How to write middle grade books for 8 to 13 year olds

Writing Children’s Novels is ideal for anyone who wants to write fiction for readers aged 8 to 13.

You will:
Learn the key elements of a novel for children
Create believable characters and dialogue
Find the right voice to suit your reader
Receive feedback on your writing
Explore the children’s book market and all publishing options

“This is a great course to get you started on the road to writing children’s novels. From opening scenes to character and plot development, it’s got it all covered. And the feedback is awesome!”
– Sharon Boyce, Writing Children’s Novels graduate

See more reviews

Key information
Key information:
This is an online course
Duration 1 This is an online course

Opens:
Monday 12 June 2023
Start any time during the week

Opens:
Monday 12 June 2023
Start any time during the week

Duration:
5 weeks
Allow 3–4 hours per week

Duration:
5 weeks
Allow 3–4 hours per week

Feedback:
Weekly

Feedback:
Weekly


$450
Bookings close soon

Five-week online course

In this online course, you’ll discover how to write memorable stories for readers who have moved on from chapter books but are not ready for YA fiction. These books can be called middle-grade fiction, younger reader books, or simply children’s novels. From books by Enid Blyton to Anne of Green Gables to the Diary of a Wimpy Kid to Jessica Townsend’s Nevermoor, this type of story is what most people mean when they say ‘children’s books’.

Books in this age group are very popular and have seen a surge in popularity in recent years. It’s an age when readers are curious, they love to learn and they enjoy reading about protagonists they can relate to. It’s also an age where you can start exploring more complex topics, take your characters on epic adventures and have fun with humour.

You may have kids of your own. Perhaps you know someone who does. Maybe you once saw some in the street. Whatever the case, it’s really important you understand your audience – and this course will show you how.

There’s a special craft in writing fiction for young readers. They respond strongly to stories that amuse, challenge or entertain but also never talk down to them. In this course, you’ll learn the dos and don’ts of writing for children, what topics are acceptable and you’ll have a blueprint for succeeding in this market.

Each Monday, a module covering a new topic is unlocked, complete with exercises which help you practise related skills. A small weekly assignment is due each Sunday night – with direct feedback from your online tutor – an expert in the world of children’s fiction.

Lessons include:

Module 1: The key elements in writing novels for children, starting with characters!

You’ll discover more about the children’s novel and how it fits into publishing for children. You have a unique voice and that’s what’s going to make you special as a writer. This course will help you capture the appropriate voice to suit the age of your character (and your reader). You’ll learn how to make your characters as believable as possible – complete with dialogue, back stories, appearance and motivations that drive their decisions.

Module 2: Point of view

Point of view is the heart of fiction, so it’s crucial to get it right! You’ll learn how point of view works – including how to avoid glitches and common pitfalls. You’ll also discover how to write from a child’s point of view – and how that differs from writing an adult point of view.

Module 3: How to write magnetic beginnings

You need to grab the attention of young readers from the first page so it’s vital that you write a compelling beginning. This module will help you nail your beginnings – not only of the whole novel, but of individual scenes as well.

Module 4: How to structure your story the right way

Once the story is up and running, it’s all about three things – character, plot and pace. In this module, you’ll look at how to manipulate each of these elements to create desired narrative tension that will keep your young reader engrossed (under the covers, with a torch). Along the way, you’ll look at the three-act structure and controlling pace, as well as why the number of scenes is so important.

Module 5: Create a mesmerising world for your readers

A good story has a strong main character. A great story usually also has a diverse and interesting supporting cast. In this module, you’ll learn how to ensure that all of your characters are just as interesting as your protagonist.

Recommended reading

There is no prior reading required for this online course. However, we recommend visiting a local bookstore or library (or your child’s bookshelf!) to get acquainted with the current selection of books on offer for children and teenagers.

“Is this course for me?”

Writing Children’s Novels has been designed as an introduction to writing fiction for children aged 8 to 13 – appealing to a range of aspiring writers. People like these:

Elizabeth has written all her life, with notebooks crammed full of half-finished stories. Now in her 40s, she finds herself drawn to writing fantasy middle-grade stories and would love some direction to start turning these threads into a novel.

Ross lives to doodle and write silly stories in the style of book series like Diary of a Wimpy KidWeirdo or Treehouse. He dreams of getting his own series off the ground, but first wants to ensure he gets the basics right.

Ursula has two boys aged 8 and 10 and has been enjoying seeing them devour popular middle-grade books. She has some ideas for a middle-grade series and would like help creating authentic-sounding characters and a course format that fits her busy family life.

Bianca has decided she wants to become a bestselling author of fiction for ‘older readers’ (10-13). She knows it’s a competitive market, so is keen to gain any insights and knowledge that will help her succeed. She finds she does her best writing at 5am!

"I took everything I’d learned and wrote a fourth manuscript, A Girl Called Corpse, and the rest is history!"
– Reece Carter Graduate of Writing Children's Novels at the Australian Writers' Centre

“On the second day of the course I came up with the idea for my first book."
– Tamsin Janu Graduate of Writing Children's Novels at Australian Writers' Centre and author of five junior fiction novels

"When I found out I was being published it was the best thing ever, the happiest day I can remember so far. It was really, really exciting."
– Catherine Pelosi Graduate of Writing Children's Novels at Australian Writers' Centre and author of Quark's Academy

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q: I don’t know what age group I want to write for. Should I look for a more general course?
A: All the techniques and skills in Writing Children’s Novels can be applied to writing for other children's age groups, so this is also the course we recommend if you know you want to write for children but aren't yet sure of exactly which age group you want to focus on.

Q: I'm a complete beginner. Is this course right for me?
A: It’s a great place to start. Most students simply have a love for writing fiction for young people and that’s all the experience that is required.

Q: Do I need to have a story idea?
A: Not at all. This course will teach the techniques to writing great stories, but you don’t need one at the start.

Q: What kind of books will this course help me write?
A: Anything aimed at readers aged 8 to 13 – because many of the concepts are common to all young fiction. This includes the popular middle-grade fiction and expanding ‘tween’ market. However, if you’re not sure what age group you want to write for, this course covers all the basic skills you will need to write for any age group.

Q: How many others will be in the class – and are they all experienced writers?
A: The online classroom is a supportive learning environment and we purposefully keep classes small to make everyone more comfortable (no more than approx. 20 per class). Everyone is there to learn and no experience is necessary, so you don't need to worry about being out of your depth.

Q: How does the online tutored class work exactly?
A: Each Monday, a new course module will be made available. You can choose any time that week to go through it – there is no set class time. Through the online learning hub, you can chat to classmates and your online tutor and get feedback on your weekly assignments (due each Sunday night).

Q: I'm a busy parent and work full-time. Can I fit this in?
A: Most of our students are busy people just like you. This course is flexible so that all you need to find is a few extra hours in the week, not necessarily all at once. You've totally got this!

Q: I want to write for children but how do I work out which writing course is right for me and my book?
A: Children's fiction is separated into a number of different categories, depending on the age range of the reader. We have a course to guide you in every one of these categories:
If you're not sure which area you might like to write in, one of the best ways to decide is to think about your protagonist. Kids like to read up a bit (that is, read a little older than they are) so if your protagonist is 10, you're likely writing either a chapter book or children's novel. If your protagonist is 16, then it falls into YA.

Ongoing story and publishing support

Writing Children’s Novels provides you with all the foundation skills you need to start creating fiction for young readers. Once you have these skills under your belt, our Novel Writing Essentials course helps you get YOUR story off to the best start through workshopping and theory. Then, your manuscript is in safe hands with our motivational six-month Write Your Novel program – Australia’s best! Finally, you can bring your draft up to publishable standard with the Edit Your Novel course.

By the end of this course, you will have:

KNOWLEDGE:You’ll understand not just what young readers want, but how to present it to them in the best way.
CONFIDENCE:You’ll gain the skills to begin properly structuring stories immediately.
INSPIRATION:Even if you didn’t have ideas before, after five weeks you’ll have a notebook of story starters to take you to the next level!
MOTIVATION:This course will have you fired up to start writing the next big thing for young readers – and our pathway can help you get there.

Graduates have gone on to score book deals and be a part of the HUGE children’s fiction market.

Become a children's author!

  • Duelling wizards, angst-ridden vampires, or highschool dramas?
  • The characters may change, but the fundamentals to writing great children’s fiction never go out of fashion.
  • Unlock your imagination and inspire a new generation of young readers!

Reviews of Writing Children's Novels

“This is a great course to get you started on the road to writing children's novels. From opening scenes to character and plot development, it's got it all covered. And the feedback is awesome!”

– Sharon Boyce

“The video feedback from Carla has been brilliant. It's given me the impetus to accept that this novel IS going to happen, and kickstarted my next steps.”

– Meg Taylor

“If you are serious about writing for children, this is the course you should do. It is definitely worth the money. A bonus is the camaraderie between the students who post helpful comments.”

– Kate Feher

“This course exceeded my expectations. Carla Fitzgerald was an excellent tutor. She gave excellent feedback. Very constructive.”

– Karen Tyrrell

Key information
Key information:
This is an online course
Duration 1 This is an online course

Opens:
Monday 12 June 2023
Start any time during the week

Opens:
Monday 12 June 2023
Start any time during the week

Duration:
5 weeks
Allow 3–4 hours per week

Duration:
5 weeks
Allow 3–4 hours per week

Feedback:
Weekly

Feedback:
Weekly


$450
Bookings close soon

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