Friday 11 July 2014

Finding Your Child Voice In Writing

Finding Your Child Voice

When writing children literature, finding your own child voice is the only way to create realistic characters, believable dialogue, and succinct narrative that will grab your reader’s attention and keep them involved in your story.

Students often ask me: So how does a writer find their child voice?

My answer to students is this: Before you can find your child voice, you must think like a child. To think like a child you must play like a child, even if it is only in your mind.

Seems like a relatively simple thing to do, right?  But as adults, we often let go of (or lose completely) our childlike attitudes and behaviors; tuck them away, in a memory box.

So, open the box. Remember. Put on a costume and dance around the room, go to a park and cruise down the slide, visit a classroom, read children’s literature, or hang out with some kids and just observe. Soon enough, your own childhood memories will come flooding back about what it was like to be that age: what was important, what wasn’t important, how you acted and how you talked, what the world sounded like, felt like, and tasted like.  

Once your own inner child is awakened, you will be able to immerse yourself into your child character’s head with more freedom; with more pizzazz.

Another exercise I have my students do to get into child-mode thinking is to look at things, people, situations and emotions; write down all the different ways to express it with originality. Then, break the sentences down again and again until the emotions and situations are expressed simply, with the innocence of a child’s heart.

 Here are some examples of my child voice that I’ve used in my own stories:

Excited:  He felt as if a herd of jumping bugs were doing cartwheels in his stomach.

Sad: My heart fell sideways and stayed lying down all day.

Descriptive dialogue: "I know grandma can fly. She has that flabby, flapping skin under her arms that turns into her after-dark wings."

Descriptive narrative: The wind pricked him, jabbed at him, finally becoming so mean with all its yelling and howling that he decided the wind just wasn’t worth playing with any longer.

So if find yourself dancing and twirling around the kitchen, doing cartwheels across the yard, or finger painting like a four-year-old, and somebody comes along to tell you that you are acting immature, take it as a compliment and start writing.

Illustration by Samantha Kickingbir
Copyright Diane Mae Robinson, 2014

For more information about my dragon books for children:


  1. Replies
    1. Hi Jonathan,

      Your welcome. I hope you are still keeping up with your children book writing.
      Take care.

  2. Nice post. More from the Dragon's Grammar Book for Children and Adults (who didn't pay attention in school). Like it. Later, when I don't have a cat at my back carrying on I will read the entire post. Sorry. Walking on only one leg, so it takes extra time. I'll return to soak up all the information about voices. Though I don't know that it is good to be hearing oices. I'm just hearing, I mean saying.

    1. Hearing voices is a good thing (or so the Almac of Lunatic Writers says). No voices, no writing ideas. I hope your non-walking leg gets better soon!

    2. What voices? Look, read carefully. I wrote oices. Geezs. :)

    3. I know you said "oices". I thought you just talk'n funny down there. Bwayayayayahaha.

    4. Not talk'n funny, I was immersed in my chil-like essence you dodo brain. Now I am going back to my oices, my muse if you will, and fingerpaint on the walls.

    5. Oh, yes, your chil-like essence, how foolish of me not to have known (rolling eyes). Paint those walls good.

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    1. What a not nice a piece of scam got through. Nothing like asking a writer if she needs a paper written for her. :( erase this nonsense.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.