Writing Children's Books For Dummies, 2nd Edition
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There are lots of reasons to include scene development or description of scenery in your children's book. There are also reasons why you should not. Often writers will decide to include a context description that fails to add anything measurable or meaningful to the story.

How do you tell whether something is meaningful or measurable? Ask yourself whether it has a purpose that you can articulate if called upon to do so. The following list reveals scenarios when setting the scene can do more harm to your story than good.

  • When you have scenes with no characters: Does the sentence or paragraph you are including involve your main character or an important character? Does it provide a place in which you will see that character do something or experience something meaningful to the story? If you can't answer yes and explain it to your reader, then out it goes!

  • When the scenes don’t advance the plot: Does the piece you are including provide a setting that is intrinsic to action occurring in or around that place? Does it move the story forward by taking us somewhere involving conflict or drama? Is the place related to the main character’s compelling desire or want? If you can’t answer yes and explain it to your reader, then it’s not worth adding.

  • When scenes tell rather than show: It’s fun and easy to write narrative description. And writing scenery often falls into that category. But it’s really, really, really easy to end up telling and not showing.

    Telling involves readers in events occurring in the past as opposed to the present (even if the entire book is written in the past tense), removes immediacy from the story, slows down the pacing, and bores the reader in many cases.

    Showing is writing that moves the character’s feet, propels the story forward, increases conflict or drama, and focuses on action. Does your text show rather than tell? If not, then rewrite it!

About This Article

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About the book authors:

Lisa Rojany Buccieri has written and ghostwritten more than 100 children's and grown-up's books, both fiction and nonfiction, including board books, picture books, and young adult series. Peter Economy is a bestselling author, coauthor, and ghostwriter of more than 55 books, including several For Dummies titles.

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