Thinking Like A Scientist to Craft Captivating Children's Stories
By Kourtney LaFavre
Kidlit writers have a unique ability to transport young minds into fantastical worlds, sparking their imagination and curiosity. But have you ever considered taking the role of a scientist in creating remarkable stories? Just like scientists use observation, experimentation, and critical thinking to unravel the mysteries of the universe, children's book writers can employ a similar mindset to create their next unforgettable story. Let’s explore how thinking like a scientist can lead to the creation of a truly exceptional children's story.
1. Observe the World Around You
Scientists begin their journey by keenly observing the world around them. Similarly, as a children's book writer, your first step is to be an astute observer of children, their interactions, and their environment. Pay attention to their behaviors, interests, and questions. What excites them? What perplexes them? These observations will serve as your foundation, helping you craft relatable characters and situations that resonate with your young readers.
2. Ask "What If?" Questions
The heart of scientific inquiry lies in asking "What if?" questions that spark curiosity and exploration. Apply this principle to your writing process by asking questions like, "If this animal could talk, what would it say? What would it want people to know?" or "Why is this happening?" These imaginative queries can be the seeds of captivating story lines that take your readers on incredible journeys.
3. Experiment with Ideas
Scientists conduct experiments to test hypotheses and uncover new information. Similarly, you can experiment with various story elements to find the perfect combination. Try different character traits, settings, and plot twists to see how they interact and evolve. Just like a scientist learns from failed experiments, your discarded ideas can provide valuable insights that guide you toward the right narrative path.
4. Embrace Curiosity
Children are naturally curious, and scientists harness this curiosity to explore uncharted territories. As a children's book writer, channel your inner child and approach your writing with a sense of wonder. Delve into topics that intrigue you and take your readers on a journey of discovery. Whether it's a hidden magical realm or the depths of the ocean, your enthusiasm will be contagious.
5. Research and Learn
Scientists dive into research to expand their knowledge base and make informed conclusions. Similarly, thorough research is crucial for crafting authentic and credible children's stories. Whether you're writing about a specific time period, scientific concept, or cultural tradition, accurate details enrich your storytelling and deepen the reader's engagement.
6. Collaborate and Seek Feedback
Scientists often collaborate to share insights and refine their theories. Similarly, connecting with other writers, editors, and beta readers can provide fresh perspectives on your story. Constructive feedback helps you refine your ideas, characters, and plot, ensuring your story resonates with its intended audience.
7. Embrace the Unknown
In the world of science, breakthroughs come from embracing uncertainty and venturing into the unknown. As a writer, don't be afraid to take risks and explore new narrative territories. Surprise your readers with unexpected twists and turns that challenge their assumptions and keep them eagerly turning the pages.
By thinking like a scientist, children's book writers can infuse their stories with wonder, authenticity, and creative magic. Just as scientists uncover hidden truths about the world, you can uncover the hidden depths of your imagination and create stories that captivate young minds for generations to come. So, observe, question, experiment, and explore—let your inner scientist guide you on your quest to craft your next great children's story.
Kourtney is a mom, author, and educator with a BS degree in Childhood Studies and 20+ years experience working with children and families in classrooms and other community programs. As a life-long learner she’s always questioning and watching the world with glittering eyes, on the lookout for beautiful and amazing things. Being a SCBWI member and graduate of Children's Book Academy, helps fuel her passion for quality children's literature. She writes to inform and inspire.
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By Melissa Stoller
August is a fantastic month to create or add to an idea journal. Whether you are enjoying vacations and time spent with family or friends, or you are busy getting ready for back to school activities, you can use this month to augment your list of ideas.
Image from Canva
Here are a few prompts to help you gather story starters this month:
1) Think about past August months. Trips to theme parks? Lazy summer days at the beach, lake or mountains? Family backyard picnics? Find a detail from one memory and write a scene with a setting using the fives senses for added richness.
2) Choose your favorite summer game or activity. For example: swimming, tennis, backyard games like kickball or badminton, frisbee, board games, kite flying, sand castle building, and more. Write about a character participating in one of these activities during the summertime.
3) Jot down a favorite back to school memory. Shopping for school supplies? Buying back to school clothes? Maybe even summer reading or homework! Imagine a character engaging in these activities and write an opening line, a closing line, or a title.
I hope these prompts help you add ideas to your writing journal this August. Let me know in the comments!
Melissa Stoller writes to bring connection, joy, and a bit of magic to her readers. She is the author of the chapter book series The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection - Return to Coney Island, and the picture books Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush; Ready, Set, GOrilla!; Sadie’s Shabbat Stories; Planting Friendship: Peace, Salaam, Shalom; and Building Bridges: Peace, Salaam, Shalom (co-written with Callie Lovvorn and Shirin Rahman). Melissa is a Blogger and Course Assistant for the Children’s Book Academy, a Rate Your Story Judge, a volunteer with SCBWI/MetroNY, a Book Meshuggenahs member, a Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center Advisory Council member, and a past school and synagogue Trustee. She also interviews authors and offers resources on her blog. In other chapters of her life, Melissa has worked as a lawyer, legal writing instructor, freelance writer/editor, and early childhood educator. She lives in New York City with her family, and enjoys theatre, museums, and Central Park walks. Melissa is represented by Jonathan Rosen at The Seymour Agency.
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Hi, Mira Reisberg here and I'm excited to introduce our new Blogfish blogger, Amanda Lieber, who will be doing First Mondays. Amanda is a debut author, who will be sharing about Aussie children's books, and the trials and triumphs of publishing in Australia. Below is a video that we made together to get Amanda oriented with lots of fun and interesting info.
Amanda here, this is so exciting. And of course I couldn't resist sharing some of Kathy Creamer's wonderful art. Thank you you so much Kathy for helping to make my dreams come true and thank you Little Pink Dog Books!
We are so excited to be mixing things up at CBA, beginning with some delicious additions to the Blogfish. Meet our awesome bloggers!!
Here's our lineup:
1st Mondays begin with awesome Aussie debut author and former student Amanda Lieber who will be focusing on Aussie kidlit.
2nd Mondays will feature super smart Melissa Stoller whose career is taking off with several new books.
3rd Mondays will feature STEM, STEAM & SEL obsessed author Kourtney LaFavre sharing delightfully dorky, quirky, and fun info.
4th Mondays will be a mystery for right now.
And 5th Mondays we'll be taking a break