Writing for Children: Creating Captivating Picture Books and Middle-grade Fiction

w/ Martine Murray and guest Sally Rippin

The perfect three-month course for people who wish to write for children.

Children are discerning readers, and the children’s publishing industry is highly competitive. To write a children’s book that will stand out on a publisher’s desk, and then on bookstore shelves, you need to be aware of what is already out there, while creating something that reflects your personality.

24 February – 2 June 2021

$ 2,250/$1,912.50 alumni.

This course will cover the elements required to create a stand-out manuscript. You will discover how to craft a compelling story, memorable characters, authentic dialogue and an evocative setting. You will learn about your audience and the themes and language suited to different age groups. The course will also discuss what publishers are looking for and how to convince them that you are worth publishing.

Writing for children requires skill and imagination; getting published takes commitment and perseverance. You will be required to work hard and read continually. There will be regular workshops and you will be given feedback in a supportive and creative environment. Over the twelve sessions, we will study a range of children’s authors and hear from guest speakers in the children’s publishing industry.

Writing for Children is suitable for writers of all levels of experience. Participants are encouraged to bring along ideas for stories, novels-in-progress and/or favourite children’s books and middle grade fiction.

At the end of the course participants will have a thorough understanding of the children’s publishing industry as well as a fully or partially completed draft of a children’s novel. Most importantly, they will have gained the support of a group of fellow writers and an opportunity to create ongoing workshop sessions outside the course.

There are limited places available on this course. Book soon to avoid disappointment.



Writers you'll be working with:

Martine Murray

Martine Murray writes for children and young adults. Her first novel The Slightly True Story of Cedar B Hartley was included in the White Ravens international list of outstanding children’s books, and was shortlisted for the Victorian, NSW and Queensland Premier’s Awards, and the CBCA Awards. She won the Queensland Premier’s Award for How to Make a Bird and again…

Sally Rippin

Sally Rippin has been writing and illustrating children’s books for over fifteen years. She has over forty books published, many of them award-winning, including two novels for young adults. She has taught writing for children courses at the Council of Adult Education, the Victorian Writers’ Centre and as a part of the Professional Writing and Editing…

Course outline

The course consists of:

12 x evening sessions, 6.30 – 8.30pm Wednesday nights AEDT

The content listed below is comprehensive but is still a guide only. The exact course content could be adjusted according to the experience and concerns of the group and availability of guest writers.

Session 1: Wednesday 24 February
Developing a writing practice and looking at the elements of story.
Discussion of drafting and workshop process.

Session 2: Wednesday 3 March
How to find it. What’s ‘appropriate’? Who might your audience be? Authenticity and originality.
Workshopping initial ideas.

Session 3: Wednesday 10 March
The ‘What If?’:
Pushing, twisting, enlarging an idea.
How do we take one idea and find a way to unfold it into story.

Session 4: Wednesday 17 March
Picture Books:
Looking at the idea of writing visually, the consolation of structure, the use of rhyme, rhythm and repetition, uses of the everyday, the monster, animals, friendship…

Session 5: Wednesday 24 March
Guest Speaker – Sally Rippin

Session 6: Wednesday 31 March
Looking at the emergence of character as the basis of story.
Moving from picture books (Eloise, Shirley Hughes’ Alfie stories) to chapter books (Ivy & Bean, Pippi Longstocking) to novels (Matilda, Penny Pollard, Anne of Green Gables).

Note: Three-week break

Session 7: Wednesday 28 April
Finding and developing your unique voice. Looking at how voice manifests in a picture book and a novel.

Session 8: Wednesday 5 May
Examining the importance of setting particularly in children’s novels.

Session 9: Wednesday 12 May
Whole Class Workshop Sessions

Session 10: Wednesday 19 May
The importance of the telling detail. Looking at style and grammar.
How to look at your work with an editor’s eye. How to edit, redraft and polish your prose.

Session 11: Wednesday 26 May
Writing as a Business:
Submitting your manuscript, choosing a publisher or agent, covering letters, contracts.

Session 12: Wednesday 2 June
Making a Living as a Writer:
Book tours, school talks and festivals.

Please note in the event of unforeseen circumstances, courses – including tutors and venues – may be subject to cancellation or change.

Praise for this course

“I found that the course allowed me to discover the power of place, detail and improved my ability to write text that is immediate. It was a revelation that emotion is conveyed in the
absence of words that convey sentiment or the experience of an emotion.” (2020)

“The exercises pushed me to try new things, such as picture books. I am now polishing picture book manuscripts for submission, where I only worked on novels before.” (2019)

“Did it meet my expectations? Heck to the yeah! I wanted an intensive, in-depth course that would cover all the major elements of writing for children. What I got was all that, plus the opportunity to work with an amazing mentor, in a physical space that calls out for books to be written, all wrapped up in an atmosphere of support.” (2016)

How to Book

This course is now booked out. Use the FREE booking button to join the waiting list and we will let you know if a place becomes available or if the course is scheduled to run again.

The details below are provided for information only:

The course fee is $ 2,250/$1,912.50 alumni. When booking, applicants will be asked to pay a deposit of $750/$637.50 alumni. The balance of the course fee, will be payable in two instalments of $750/$ 637.50 almuni each, one due on 17 March 2021 and one on 14 April 2021. In the week leading up to these dates you will be sent payment instructions. Refunds are not available for those who miss sessions or do not complete the course.