children's writing ideas

I was watching my new favorite comedy show — Kroll Show — last night and had a revelation about the creative process.

 

This episode featured a particularly hilarious installment of the sketch Wheels, Ontario, a delirious spoof on Canadian culture (and the long-running teen show Degrassi High).   Things soon morphed into a Canadian version of Star Search (in which, thanks to Canadian equanimity, every contestant was a winner).

 

As I watched it, I thought about the writers’ meeting that gave birth to these sketches.  Perhaps it went something like this:

 

 

Writer 1:  Let’s make fun of goofy 90’s TV.

 

Writer 2:  Nah, everyone’s doing that.

 

Writer 3:  What about making fun of goofy 90’s Canadian TV?

 

 

And that was it.  By adding a simple one-word twist, the writers created an entirely new niche — yet one comfortably inside the familiar confines of what audiences have come to expect.

 

Thinking this way can make you the proud owner of a children’s writing idea that may help you make a real mark in the publishing world.  CBI Contributor Natasha Wing did this beautifully by turning “The Night Before Christmas” into a series of bestselling books that include The Night Before Kindergarten, The Night Before Preschool and the Night Before Summer Camp, to name a few.

 

 

So that’s my challenge to you.   Take a familiar — even overdone — genre of children’s book and see if you can create your own niche by adding one word or phrase.

 

 

I’ll start with a few possibilities:

 

 

✔ A Young Adult Novel becomes a Young Robot Novel (all the characters are robots who deal with whatever adolescent robots have to deal with.  Embarrassing rust spots that pop up on their face, perhaps?)

 

✔ Bedtime Stories become Wakeup Stories.

 

✔  Stories about vampires, witches and wizards become instantly fresh by adding the phrase “World’s Worst…” to the title.  The idea of reading about the most incompetent and utterly unprepared vampires on the planet makes me laugh just thinking about it.  Then try  “world’s tallest/dumbest/smartest/sleepiest/funniest/crankiest/hairiest…” in your title and see what gets sparked.

 

✔  Tom Smith, Detective becomes Thomas Smith, Medieval Detective.

 

✔ Add a phrase such as “in opposite world” or “of the 4th dimension” or “backwards land” to a title.   How would a werewolf behave in a world where everything was opposite?  What’s 7th grade like in an alternate universe?

 

 

See how it works?  Just a simple word or phrase, and you’ve invented something really interesting.

 

Now it’s your turn.  What can you create using this technique?  Use the comments section below to share your discoveries!

 

 

 

 

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    Comments

    1. Pingback: How to Create Your Own Children's Writing Niche -- With One Simple TechniqueWriteForKids – The Official Home of the Children's Book Revolution « Writing Tips by Alice Kuipers Writing Tips by Alice Kuipers

    2. What a great idea! Thanks so much for this idea. I expect with a little mulling over, this idea could uncover some treasures.

    3. Hi Jon,
      I enjoy your site and articles so much. I’ll be teaching 2 workshops on writing for kids in April. You have given much food for thought to share. I’ll be pass on your link to everyone who attends my class.
      Best wishes,
      Brenda

    4. Elysabeth
      March 25th

      Very interesting food for thought. I think some ideas sparked when I was reading the article but with a migraine at the time of reading this can’t say for sure. I’ll have to reread when I’m not feeling like this. Thanks for sharing. E 🙂

      Elysabeth Eldering
      Author
      FINALLY HOME (A Kelly Watson, YA, paranormal mystery)
      “The Tulip Kiss” (a paranormal romance short story)
      “Butterfly Halves” (a YA fantasy short story)
      “The Proposal” (An April Fools’ Day humorous romance short story)
      “The Cellar” (a past lives/ghosts short story; also available in French – “La Cave”)
      “Bride-and-Seek” (a paranormal romance short story)

      • Jon Bard
        March 25th

        Ouch! thanks for reading and commenting, migraine and all. Now go lay down! 🙂 Feel better soon….

    5. Great tips, I love this idea 🙂 I wonder what will happen if…. 😉

    6. Pingback: How to Create Your Own Children’s Writing Niche — With One Simple Technique

    7. B.D. Knight
      March 26th

      Short article and to the point. Great ideas. Now I have to go into my thinking tank.

    8. marlane mazur
      March 26th

      thanks Jon, what a great waker-upper you gave me this morning. I have a series of 6 stories about Tyler, a little boy who makes up crazee tall stories all the time. And then they adopt a little sister which Tyler has wanted. She is so prankster-ish, but now no one believes him when he tries to stop her. I have not been satisfied w/my titles(I’ve tried a few) Now, I think I will try something like “THE WORST STORY TELLER EVER” quite a difference from :TYLER WANTED A SISTER
      will keep you posted. thanks again. happy writing to all the subscribers out there!

    9. John Wilhite
      March 26th

      1. The Three Vampire (Werewolf, Zombie, Alien) Stooges, I Kissed a Vampire and Didn’t Like His Cold Lifeless Lips, I Kissed a Werewolf but My Mouth Got Full of Hair, I Kissed a Zombie but His Lips Fell Off into My Mouth
      2. Parodies of dystopian novels (with enough parodies we may be able to stop this genre): The Divergent Hungryness, Just Me and My Bow and Arrows, Bella es fea, A Triscuit a Trashkit There’s an Allegiant in My Basket, The Combined Science, Wealth, and Military Might of the Entire World Can’t Save the Planet but a Teenager with a Bow or Slingshot Will Save the Day
      3. Romance: There’s enough fodder here for a million books. For the Affection of Chaz, For the Love of Chaz, For the Loss of Chaz, Finding Chaz Again (Married to My BFF)
      4. Futuristic: The Magnificent Mental Machine of Jon Bard (realistic science fiction, not a parody)

      Thanks, Jon. What a marvelous, thought-provoking idea.

      • Jon Bard
        March 26th

        John — that last one is a certain winner! 😉

    10. John Wilhite
      March 26th

      I can’t think of anything specific for children’s picture books–something to make light of the millions of kids books with talking animals, insects, objects. Think of all the kids who grow up disturbed because their puppies and their toy trains won’t talk back to them. Hmm, this could be the cause of rebellious, anti-social behavior among young adults! I may be on to something here.

    11. Bryan Evans
      March 27th

      By the comments here, seems this article has stirred the minds of more than a few. I can almost feel the collection of minds reading this article whizzing off in all kinds of directions, including mine. Thanks for the enlightening article, Jon.

    12. Michele
      March 27th

      It was this very idea that launched my Zombie Kids Book series. I took Twas the Night Before Christmas and turned it into a kid-friendly picture book ‘Twas the Zombie Night Before Christmas. You’ve got me thinking of working humor into some of my stuff for YA and adults.

    13. Quinn Cole
      March 27th

      I’ve noticed some of these, but all your twists and examples gave me much more to think about. Thanks!

    14. This is so witty and brilliant! One of the best suggestions I’ve ever read!!!! LOVE IT!!!

    15. Denise
      March 31st

      This was wonderful! It really got my creativity flowing despite being in the midst of revising a YA novel, planning the next one, and tweaking a picture book. It makes me want to brainstorm a brand new book!

    16. Pingback: Writing Humor | One Writer's Journey

    17. Tessa Kruger
      September 20th

      Aha, My ‘Mid summer’s Dream’ is already changing into ‘A Mid summer’s Nightmare.’ ♪♪ I luuvvvv it, I luuuvvv it.♪♪

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