When Theodor Geisel, a Dartmouth College senior, was caught drinking in the spring of 1925, he was forced to resign from his position at the humor magazine, Jack-O-Lantern. Hardly discouraged, Geisel continued to write. He went on to produce numerous works under pen names like L. Burbank and L. Pasteur. However, it is with the name Seuss that Geisel acquired true fame, crafting quite the reputation by taking a unique approach to the process of writing children’s books.
If you are a burgeoning author struggling to find the right approach to writing children’s books, you might be surprised to realize the number of lessons you can learn from this rhyming craftsman. Here are 10 lessons writers can learn from Dr. Seuss:
- Books Should Be Fun
A lot of children struggle to acclimate to reading because they find the entire process boring. Dr. Seuss made a name for himself by writing children’s books that were fun. He was able to bring stories to life that children could relate to by using only a small selection of words. For example, “Green Eggs and Ham” uses just 50 different words, yet it is still able to tell an interesting and entertaining story.
The lesson – If you want to succeed in writing children’s books, you must produce content that children will enjoy reading. In Dr. Seuss’ words, “Do you write what you feel your audience SHOULD read or what they WANT to read?”
- Never Condescend Your Audience
Dr. Seuss endeavored to treat children like the intelligent beings they actually are by always discouraging new writers from being condescending to their audience. He tackles topics by thinking out of the box and using a different approach in writing that compels the reader to think differently. For example, in “Lorax,” Dr. Seuss talks about the environment by creating lovable and imaginary characters. This is not only to sustain readers’ interest, but also to create awareness in the world around them. From his books, you can see that he believed in the worlds he was creating and gave his all to the writing process.
- Use Rhythm
Children are very versatile creatures. They do not merely read lines. They can sing them, shout and even dance to them. It even works for adults who can’t help but tap their feet while reading Dr. Seuss books to their little ones. If you are thinking about writing children’s books, a little bit of rhythm could make your content both entertaining and appealing to young readers.
- Spice Up Your Book with Chaos
Children love chaos and Dr. Seuss clearly understood this. His books would always start at a place of normalcy. Then, they’d slowly evolve into madness with fish flying everywhere and large cats running up the wall. Learn to escalate your situations into chaos and your young readers will struggle to put your book down.
- Follow It Up with a Resolution
Every book needs a resolution and Dr. Seuss always made a point to resolve the messes in his books. He’d temper the chaos, kill the action and return things back to normal. When writing children’s books, you might struggle with the concept of transitioning from escalated chaos to a sense of calm normalcy. But resolution is essential for a decent children’s story, so you must be willing to apply the effort.
- Be a Perfectionist
Children are vulnerable beings. They take everything you put in front of them and consume it as it is. For this reason, it took Dr. Seuss nearly a year to finish The Cat in the Hat, a book with a measly 236 words. He understood that every single word and every sentence had to be perfect.
The lesson – Don’t rush. You have to get your content right before passing it out for the vulnerable minds of children to consume.
- Make It Short and Sweet
Children do not have lengthy attention spans. For this reason, Dr. Seuss’ books have always been short. That didn’t make them incomplete. Rather, Dr. Seuss mastered cutting each book down to its bare essentials. Similarly, as an individual contemplating writing children’s books, you must be willing to cut your book down to the basics. This is true even if it means discarding the majority of your written words at the end.
- Get Inspiration from Folklore
A lot of Dr. Seuss’ stories emerged from the poems and fairy tales he heard as a child. When writing children’s books, consider crafting them from the stories you were raised on. This will allow you to bring raw emotion to the content you write. You are also more likely to develop a unique writing style if you use those stories that crafted your unique personality as a child.
Dr. Seuss spent a lot of time abroad. This made him more creative. If you want to unleash your creative juices, think about leaving your comfort zone and seeing new places.
- Work Hard and Be Patient
Dr. Seuss was rejected more than a dozen times before finally getting his first book published. He could have given up at any time. Yet he persevered. This is the spirit that a writer needs to succeed – a determination to keep trying and improving their craft until they reach their goals.
Dr. Seuss’ style for writing children’s books doesn’t appeal to too many people today. However, one cannot deny the fact that the author deserved the success he achieved. If nothing else, try emulating his undeniable dedication to his craft and his determination to achieve his dreams regardless of the cost.