Writing For Kids: Picture Books and Children’s Fiction

w/ Pip Smith and guests including Anna McFarlane and Beau Wylie

Words and pictures combine in this course, which will teach the skills you need to write picture books and children’s fiction. Packed with industry guests and including the chance to collaborate with a professional illustrator, this lively program will give you the inside information you need to stand out from the crowd.

Tuesdays 6.30pm – 8.30pm (AEDT/AEST) , 20 February – 4 June 2024

New Year Sale price: $ 2,300/ $1,955 alumni
(Normally $2500 / $2125 alumni)

This is a past course.

This is the perfect three-month course for people who wish to write picture books and children’s fiction. We will cover the elements required to create a stand-out manuscript. You will discover how to craft a compelling story, memorable characters 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 kids 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.

This course is suitable for writers of all levels of experience. Participants are encouraged to bring along ideas for stories, works-in-progress and your favourite children’s books. This course will primarily focus on picture books, but will also explore elements of storytelling which can be used in writing junior and middle-grade fiction.

As part of this course you will have the rare opportunity to work directly with a talented illustrator, working together collaboratively to produce a one-page illustration that will practically demonstrate what goes into the relationship between author and illustrator. You will be able to use this page as part of a pitching session at the end of the course with a leading children’s publisher.

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 their work-in-progress. 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.

Writers you'll be working with:

Pip Smith

Pip Smith is a writer of poetry, fiction, literary criticism and punk songs. She was named an SMH Best Young Novelist of 2018 for her debut novel, Half Wild, which was shortlisted for the 2018 Voss Literary award, the Davitt Award, and longlisted for an ABIA Best Debut Fiction award. Her first collection of poetry, Too Close…

Anna McFarlane

Anna McFarlane has worked for several publishing houses during her thirty-year career, and is currently at Allen & Unwin where she publishes books for children and young adults. Recently published books include the CBCA award-winning picture book My Friend Fred by Frances Watts and Anne Yi, award-winning middle grade novel Dragon Skin by Karen Foxlee,…

Beau Wylie

Beau Wylie is the creative moniker of Newcastle based creative Cam Beau Wylie Foster. From an inquisitive childhood spent wading through wild creeks and building scraggly nooks in the bush around his home, Beau began drawing his own wondrous worlds full of brilliant frogs, nipping yabbies and curious marsupials from the moment he could grasp…

Course outline

The course consists of: 12 x evening sessions, 6.30 – 8.30pm Tuesday nights (AEDT / AEST)

Session 1: Tuesday 20 February
Introduction: Developing a practice, finding material, identifying your ‘guide books’ and outlining the workshopping process.

Session 2: Tuesday 27 February
Guest Publisher, Anna McFarlane. Meet an experienced publisher of children’s books, learn about the difference between picture books, chapter books, and middle grade fiction, and find out about what publishers are looking for in an author.

Session 3: Tuesday 5 March
Structure and Shape: Discuss the basics of storytelling, share your initial ideas, and learn how to craft them into well-rounded stories.

Session 4: Tuesday 12 March
Music and Metrics 1: Music and metrics are alive and well in children’s literature. This week we’ll begin to get our heads around rhyming verse and learn how to write out loud, while walking the dog!

Session 5: Tuesday 19 March
Visual Storytelling with guest illustrator Beau Wylie. Meet a seasoned illustrator, learn how they work, and how to leave room in your text to let them shine.

Session 6: Tuesday 26 March
Music and Metrics 2 with guest author Davina Bell. This week we’ll continue to look at rhyme and metre and also consider the sonics of prose. We’ll learn how to re-draft while reading aloud.


Session 7: Tuesday 30 April
Chapter Books and Middle-Grade Fiction: Character with guest author Sue Whiting. Learn how to develop characters kids want to spend time with. We’ll read a range of chapter books and middle grade novels and analyse them for character arc and development.

Session 8: Tuesday 7 May
Chapter Books and Middle-Grade Fiction: World-building with guest author Jessica Millar. This week we’ll explore different ways we might create worlds kids want to get lost in.

Session 9: Tuesday 14 May
Chapter Books and Middle Grade Fiction: Plot and Pace for Younger Readers with guest author Jeremy Lachlan. What’s a hook, and how can you catch your reader with it? Learn how to keep kids turning the pages.

Session 10: Tuesday 21 May
Editing your work with guest editor Kate Whitfield from Allen & Unwin. Turn your clichés into glittering details, polish your work until it sings. Have an eye for style, grammar and register.

Session 11: Tuesday 28 May
Writing as a career. Besides writing, what’s involved in the life of a writer? How to make a “living” from school tours, writing cover letters, choosing publishers, etc.

Session 12: Tuesday 4 June
Pitching Your Work with guest publisher Anna McFarlane. Present your book to a publisher and get feedback on your work. We will use your one-page illustration example as a way for you to demonstrate to the publisher your proof of concept.

Please note, the exact course content could be adjusted according to the experience and concerns of the group and availability of guest writers.


How to Book

This is a past course.