Craft Book Review: Writing for Children by Linda Strachan

Reviewed by K.M. Lockwood (Philippa R. Francis)

This Writing Handbook from Bloomsbury is dedicated to The Scattered Authors Society (The ‘other’ SAS) by its author Linda Strachan. The SAS keep a very useful and stimulating blog: An Awfully Big Blog Adventure so I took that as a pretty good indicator of the quality and good sense of the content and writing- as well as being endorsed by Celia Rees and Nicola Morgan. I was not disappointed.

The text is enlivened with a smattering of short relevant quotations from writers, and includes summaries. It is usefully divided into five major sections. The first part outlines the wide variety of different readerships there are in the children’s market. Wisely, it stops at Middle Grade (10-12) and leaves YA (Young Adult, 13+) to others.

Secondly, it gives you a Writer’s Toolkit to use throughout your first draft and into the start of the editing process. There are straightforward guides together with worthwhile exercises to develop skills, like handling point-of-view, for instance.

Then there is a brief and level-headed segment on Submissions. This also includes some rather dated advice on self-publishing (the book originally came out in 2008 and was revised in 2009). My advice to Bloomsbury would be to drop that section altogether – the changes are too rapid for a general guide to reflect.

It is followed by a practical and worthwhile manual on what to do next: Now You Are Published. This is a welcome extra compared to many other guides and advice books in my experience. (I have a shelf of how-tos)

Finally comes Useful Information. It includes the Society of Authors in its list of Organisations and Associations – but in a glaring omission, leaves out SCBWI! We are mentioned in the text, however. 

Overall, I found it appealing that the process is seen in such a logical, pragmatic yet optimistic way. Hard work and hope are both encouraged by the tone of the writer, Linda Strachan. A couple of quotations will give you the idea:

‘There is no magic formula and there are no guarantees. 

‘Everyone has imagination and sometimes it only needs permission to come out and play!’

This would be a good addition to the beginner writer’s bookshelf in particular – but it has enough constructive advice for the more experienced writer to find it worthwhile.

K. M. Lockwood is a writing name of Philippa R. Francis. As well as being a regular contributor, Philippa (@lockwoodwriter) also tweets as @Words8Pictures helping to maintain our 'Industry news' feed.


  1. Thanks, Lockwood! Definitely one for the Shelf of Groan!

  2. Will definitely have a look. Thanks, Philippa


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