Themes — Good or Too Much Bother?

A variety of children’s magazines including Hopscotch, Boy’s Quest, Fun for Kids and Pockets all publish themed issues.  Readers know that everything in that particular issue will be tied together under a common topic.

Writers trying to break into a market benefit from themes as well.  Knowing at least a general topic gives you some idea what the editor wants to see.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you brainstorm writing ideas to go along with those theme lists:

  • The most important one?  Actively brainstorm.   Don’t go with the first idea that you come up with because that is the obvious idea.  That’s why it is your first idea. And if it is your first idea, it is probably someone else’s as well.
  • Don’t just brainstorm fiction ideas.  Check a couple issue of the magazine and you’ll probably discover that it publishes more nonfiction than fiction.  That said, editors get more fiction.  Submit nonfiction and you’ll find yourself facing even less competition.
  • Brainstorm ten or 15 ideas.  When you have a nice, long list of ideas, look for ways to make them even more unique.  Can you combine two of them — an article on gardening with a historic piece might become an article on how certain common garden plants have changed over time.  Our lettuce is thankfully very different from medieval lettuce.

Another good thing about theme lists is that the theme gives you a hard and fast deadline.  If you have just finished one project and don’t have a new idea, it can also help your get going again on your writing.

To find out more about writing science for children, see my post at the Muffin.

Check out the theme lists for the magazines above and you may find yourself writing something new.


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