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Embarking on the journey of writing our first children’s novel has been one of the greatest and most challenging experiences. We still have so much to learn but we thought we would share some of the things we learnt the hard way in the hope that it will help you.

Problem: Becoming too attached to our scenes.

This was one of the biggest hurdles for us to overcome. We had grown to love some of our scenes so much that we were blinded by the fact they weren’t serving a big enough purpose in our overall narrative. We tried so hard to keep scenes that just weren’t working because we enjoyed the character interaction or had put so much work into the way they were written. After taking a step back and trialling the story without certain scenes, we were able to clearly see just how much they were holding us back.

Solution: To ensure you aren’t holding onto a scene for the wrong reasons, try removing it. If it has no impact on the story and the narrative remains completely intact without it, you do not need it!

Problem: Spoiler alerts! Giving away too much information to the reader.

This was something we did not even realise we were doing! We were so focused on ensuring the reader had all the necessary information and was fully clued in about what was happening. It didn’t hit us until after our first draft that we were basically giving away all the answers.

Solution: Do not assume your reader cannot piece together hints and come to their own conclusion. As long as your writing makes sense, you do not need to spell everything out for them. If you’re unsure about whether or not your giving too much away, ask someone who doesn’t know your plot to read your work.

Problem: Being over protective of your characters

Does anyone else love their main characters so much that they hate putting them through traumatic events? It took us a little while to realise that everything was coming to our MC way too easily. We wanted her to succeed. If you protect your characters too much, they will not grow!

Solution: Don’t be afraid to put your character in peril, or to break their heart. Think about the thing your character wants most and why they can’t get it. What situations can they go through to bring them closer to the person they need to be to meet their goals?

Problem: Being so narrow minded your story doesn’t develop.

We recently just changed one of the most key things about our novel. We basically turned it on its head. What we changed was one of the very first things we cemented for our story and since day one it has just been a permanent fixture in the novel. Through all of our edits and reworks, how we could improve this one thing was never even discussed because we were so used to it being a certain way.

Solution: Play the what if game. Explore every option possible and run every scenario in your head. You may just find that changing something you never thought you would might just be the way to unstick your story.

We hope this has been helpful for anyway who has made the same mistakes as us, or will deter anyone from doing so!

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