Jennifer Killick is a brilliant – and funny – children’s book author. Her first book, Alex Sparrow and the Really Big Stink, was published this year by Firefly, and the sequel will be published next May. LWC asked Jennifer for her five top tips for writing funny books for children.
1 – Spend time around children. Not imaginary children, or adults who are big kids, or memories of yourself as a child, but with actual real children, preferably of the age that you are writing for. Watch them interact and listen to them talking. It helps my writing in so many ways, especially with dialogue.
2 – Don’t patronise. Children are smarter, wiser and funnier than many adults give them credit for. When I write my stories, I am writing for my equals. If I don’t find it funny, neither will they.
3 – When plotting a scene, work out where it needs to go and then find the funniest way of getting it there. Think through the options and let your characters lead the way.
4 – Perfecting sentences and structure is important, but don’t over-tweak your jokes. Often the first retort that pops into my head is the funniest and if I mess with it too much, it loses the freshness.
5 – Be willing to cut, ruthlessly. Sometimes I write a joke that I absolutely love, but if it doesn’t contribute to the plot, it has to go. No arguments.