Louis Sachar is an American author of children’s books. He was born on 20 March 1954. (This information comes from his website, and I think it is sound advice for authors wishing to write children’s books.)
After graduating from law school, Sachar practiced law part-time while writing children’s books. In 1989, he became a full-time writer.
He is the author of Holes which won the 1998 U.S. National Book Award for Young People’s Literature and the 1999 Newbery Medal for its most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.
He is also the author of both the Sideways Stories From a Wayside School and the Marvin Redpost series. His latest book is Wayside School Beneath the Cloud of Doom.
In 2003, the Disney film adaptation of Holes was released. (Sachar wrote the screenplay.) In 2005, the Wayside School series was adapted into a special. In 2007, it became a TV show.
He likes to play bridge in his spare time.
Louis Sachar’s tips on writing:
1. Start With Little Ideas: ‘I usually begin a novel with just a little idea, perhaps no more than a character trait. That idea will lead to another until it snowballs into a full-blown story.’
2. Be Prepared To Write Several Drafts: ‘Since I do not plan or outline beforehand, I normally don’t know what’s going to happen next. I go through several drafts. The first draft is very unorganised, often with ideas at the end that are inconsistent with those at the beginning. In the second draft, I organize it better because I now have a pretty firm grasp of who the characters are and what is going to happen to them. By the time I get to the last rewrite (which may be the fifth or sixth pass), I try to convince myself that the story is all true, and that I am simply telling it, not making it up.’
3. The Useless Days Will Be Worth It. ‘With each draft, the story changes and the ideas are transformed. I may initially have a real clear vision for different parts of a book. I know how I’m going to handle this problem. I know what I’m going to do here. And then I kind of get lost. What amazes me is that most days feel useless. I don’t seem to accomplish anything—just a few pages, most of which don’t seem very good. Yet, when I put all those wasted days together, I somehow end up with a book of which I’m very proud. Somehow I’ve now written eighteen books. I’m always amazed when I finish a book and realise, hey, this actually is what I set out to do.’
4. Learn From Your Favourite Authors: ‘I think as a child, my favourite author was E. B. White (Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web). I think he was a big influence on the way I write. But most of my favourite writers who influenced me are those I read in high school. Those include J. D. Salinger, Kurt Vannoget, William Saroyan, and E. L. Doctorow.’
5. Find Resources For Names: ‘Names are always a little difficult. Right before my daughter was born, my wife and I got a book called 10,000 Baby Names, and I still look through that book when I look for names.’
6. Get In Touch With Your Inner Child: ‘Many of my ideas come from what I remember doing, feeling, and thinking as a child.’
7. Write. Don’t Talk About Writing: ‘I never talk about a book until I’m finished writing it. And I like to be alone when I write. It took me a year and a half to write Holes, and nobody knew anything about it, not even my wife or my daughter. I think that is helpful for writing, as well as for anything else that takes a lot of self-motivation. The more you talk about something, the less you tend to do it.’
8. Write Entertaining Books: ‘But mainly my books are written to make reading enjoyable. That’s my first goal with all my books, to make reading fun. I want kids to think that reading can be just as much fun, or more so, than TV or video games or whatever else they do. I think any other kind of message or moral that I might teach is secondary to first just enjoying the book.’
9. Write Children’s Books With Care: ‘I don’t really believe that writing for children is very different from writing for adults. What makes good children’s books is putting the same care and effort into them as I would if I were writing for adults.’
I hope these suggestions from Mr. Sachar will help you in your own writing. I feel that they are applicable to both writing for adults and children.