Here we are again with another writing tip for Christians who write stories for children and teens (wow can it really be a whole week?)!
This week’s tip is all about reading to improve your vocabulary.
Having a wide vocabulary is a great asset for all writers, particularly writers of fiction . . . and there’s no doubt that the best way to extend your vocabulary is to read. You can’t describe something unless you have the vocabulary to do so! Choosing to use fancy words in your writing for the sake of it is unnecessary and off-putting for readers, but sometimes a different word or turn of phrase can fit so much better than something you use frequently, and can give the precise meaning or atmosphere you are looking to create.
You don’t have to use simple language just because you are writing for children – it’s good to stretch them occasionally. If you have any concerns about the level of vocabulary you are using, do some research and/or check with a friendly teacher. How would you describe the picture above for 8-11s? If you struggle, read Heidi by Johanna Spyri and see how she has described similar scenery – I took this photo in ‘Heidiland’ in Switzerland!
But remember: don’t use a complicated word just because you can. You are not writing to show off your vocabulary.
So what should you be reading? Anything and everything! Start by reading books and magazines your target market might be reading. Read what you love to read, and every now and then read something completely different – read a biography if you usually read novels, try a history book, a travel book, or some other non-fiction title. If you usually read contemporary books, try one of the classics and vice-versa. If you usually enjoy fantasy, pick a spy novel for a change. If you love science fiction or whodunnits, why not give a historical novel a go instead, or a handful of magazines?
By reading, you will pick up much more than vocabulary – you will see how the author has built up tension, how they have ended their chapters, how their characters relate to each other and so much more. So what more excuse do you need to curl up with a good book? The average American reads 19 minutes a day. Do your readers a favour; don’t be average! 🙂
I trust that helps – if it does, please share with your friends and leave a comment below. What you are reading at the moment, and what insights is it giving you for your writing? Love to hear from you!
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