A good short story for kids includes many of the same elements found in stories for adults, such as characters, setting and plot. However, you should strive to keep your children's story simple and concrete so that young readers can easily follow the narrative.
- Choose a theme
A good children's story has a central theme. The theme is the concept or lesson that the story communicates. Avoid stating the theme outright. Instead, let the theme develop over the course of the story.
- Choose characters and setting
Develop the characters before you start writing the story. Choose a main character that is easy for readers to identify with. Children can identify most easily with characters around their own age. While you do not need to describe every aspect of your main character, make the character memorable in some way. Use details about the character's manner and appearance to give clues about the character's personality.
- Create the plot and structure
Most children's stories center on a conflict for the main character. As the character deals with the conflict, his efforts help him to learn or grow. This process usually reveals the story's theme. A common plot sequence involves the following elements: initial conflict, partial success of the main character, setbacks, final success and outcome. The conflict should arise very early in the story, and the story should conclude soon after the conflict is resolved. A short story or a picture book should only contain one major conflict. Stories for very young children do not need to have conflict, but they need to be engaging in some other way.
- Use appropriate style and tone
Choose whether to write in first person or third person. Third-person narration is easier for young children to understand, but older children can appreciate the closeness and emotion they experience through first-person narration. Use a single, consistent point of view throughout the story. Write in simple, clear language that is easy for children to understand. Use dialogue rather than long descriptions to advance the plot. Children may lose interest in a story that has too many descriptions and not enough action.