Writers new to children’s literature often worry about how long a sentence should be, and whether or not to keep the words simple and easily understood. The answer to those questions obviously depends heavily on the age group you wish to write for, but there are some general guidelines you can follow.
Tip 15 – How Do You Say That?
- Trying to keep sentences too short could result in them sounding jerky. Two simple ideas joined together by a conjunction can work just as well, and will flow better.
- The important thing is to make sure the sentence is constructed so that the reader doesn’t lose his or her way.
- If in doubt, read your sentences aloud.
- Children learn new words by reading. As long as the meaning has been made clear before the word is introduced your readers will not be put off by it.
- Young readers love colourful sounding words, especially if they are brought in during an exciting passage in the book.
- If you are unsure about the vocabulary you have used, ask a few children in the right age group to read a passage. Let them read it quietly to themselves, and don’t be tempted to read it out to them. If you read it, you will automatically put the inflections in the right places and won’t find out if the vocabulary is understood by your readers.
- If they say it is too hard to read, ask why. Ask which words and sentences caused them problems.
- Bear in mind that almost anything can be said in short simple words as long as the right ones are used.
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