My 10 year old niece enjoys writing fiction and writes very well for her age. I would love to encourage her love of writing.

Can anyone recommend a good fiction writing book that is accessible to a 10-year old?

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    I find this an intriguing question, because pretty much all the writing advice I've read is geared towards writers who want to write towards publication, or some similar goal. But this question's goal is to encourage an existing passion, for someone who presumably isn't seeking an audience yet. Scott, I hope you find some great stuff here :) – Standback Nov 20 '11 at 12:31
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    @Standback You are correct. It's a bit early for her to be thinking of a career. I just want to encourage her get better at what she enjoys. I found a good book for parents, but I don't think it applies to uncles who live in another state... – Scott Nov 20 '11 at 17:08
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    I've googled around, and found some interesting stuff - I'll compose an answer when I have time. But this might get really good responses at Parenting.SE. – Standback Nov 20 '11 at 18:44
  • Featherweight Press accepts submissions from children if you're interested, btw. ;) – Ralph Gallagher Nov 21 '11 at 2:20

First of all, it's great of you to take such an interest in your niece's passion for writing! I'm sure it's much appreciated :)

To the main point, I'm not finding much in the way of books on writing for children. And I think that's for good cause: nobody's trying to get children to write fiction particularly well. Kids at that age aren't really in the running for writing good fiction, and I don't think anybody's trying to push them in - just encourage them to keep enjoying it. For that, you don't want a how-to book, any more than you'd want to get a ten-year a personal trainer just because he enjoys playing basketball.

There are lots of other ways to encourage a kid's enthusiasm for writing, which might be more effective. Obviously, this will depend muchly on the kid herself, and your relationship, so YMMV.

  • Take an interest in her writing; be appreciative. Kids love an audience. But writing is solitary, and doesn't get the audience a hockey game does. Knowing people are interested in her writing; are impressed by her writing; enjoy reading her writing - these are all powerful motivators. Heck, this'd work on most adult writers I know.
  • Publication and community. There are several kids' websites and magazines that regularly publish kids' writing. If your niece likes the idea of sharing her work with others, this is a great route to pursue - it adds the elements of feedback, of interaction with others, and of an audience. It also establishes your niece as part of a community of kid writers - again, since writing is solitary, she probably doesn't know about other kids writing. Seeing that this is a "thing" is encouraging and involving. I don't have any specific recommendations, but you can look around for appropriate magazines and websites.
  • Reading, reading, reading. Books and reading excite writers. Nuff said.
  • Focus on authors. Until she's reading about writing, she can read about writers. As a kid, I read a biography of Louisa May Alcott I still recall fondly (there seem to be many...); writer biographies or fiction featuring authors should be easy to find. Similarly, you can find articles and interviews featuring authors she likes; those will certainly be interesting to her and encourage her interest in writing.

I did find one book that looks right up your alley: Kids Write!, by Rebecca Olien. It looks really aimed at kids (and not at kids' teachers); it's also got good Amazon reviews. Probably worth checking out! Following links on Amazon leads to other likely candidates - Writing Magic and Spilling Ink: A Young Writer's Handbook both caught my eye. I can't personally attest for the quality of any of these, but browse for yourself and see what might suit your niece's fancy :)

  • "Kid's Write!" Is perfect! Thanks for that and your other suggestions. – Scott Nov 21 '11 at 4:48
  • @Scott: Once you get it, I'd be fascinated to hear about it. Give me a ping when you and the niece have got an impression? :) – Standback Nov 28 '11 at 22:43
  • I perused some of it already on Amazon and liked what I saw there. I'll let you know more once I get my hands on it. :) – Scott Nov 29 '11 at 13:58
  • I just got done skimming it and it looks perfect for a 10-year old. – Scott Dec 8 '11 at 19:02
  • Spilling Ink by Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter is very good for young writers. Readit when I was a kid, helped immensely. – Kale Slade Dec 18 '18 at 22:16

I really like The Writer's Journey. It's very accessible and clearly written.

  • This book seems to focus on longer form fiction (eg novels). I'm not sure she's ready for it yet. But I will definitely giver her this one if she continues writing into her teens. Thanks! – Scott Nov 20 '11 at 17:14

I'd also recommend trying The Breakout Novelist. It uses many examples from current novels, is easy to read, and has exercises to try at the end of each section. It covers both the core concepts of writing a fiction novel and then expands on them in more detail afterwards.

It's actually a combination of three writing books also written by the same guy, all of which I enjoyed a lot.

  • I'm not sure she's ready for this one either. Since she's too young to be thinking of a career. If she's still writing when she starts high school, I'll give her this one. Thanks for the suggestion. – Scott Nov 20 '11 at 17:29

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