Checklist for Writers


“What makes a good children’s writer?

  • must have a genuine and powerful wish not only to entertain children, but to teach them the habit of reading
  • must like simple tricks and jokes and riddles and other childish things
  • must be unconventional and inventive
  • must have a really first-class plot
  • {tell} stories that contain a threat
  • {use} new inventions; unorthodox methods; eccentricity; secret information
  • know what enthralls children:  action, suspense, being spooked, finding treasures, ghosts, chocolates and toys and money, magic, being made to giggle, seeing the villain meet a grisly death, {seeing}the hero be a winner
  • know what bores children: descriptive passages and flowery prose

Your story, therefore, must tantalize and titillate on every page and all the time that you are writing you must be saying to yourself ‘Is this too slow? Is it dull? Will they stop reading?’ …{If your answer is yes}, you must cross it out and start again.”

Roald Dahl presented this philosophy of writing at a lecture in 1990;  J.K Rowling paid attention (Harry Potter was first published in 1997).