TUESDAY WRITING TIP – Writing Chapter Books with Sheryl Gwyther

Today, children’s author and my very good friend, Sheryl Gwyther is visiting  to give us her tips on how to write Chapter Books. Sheryl is visiting us as part of her blog tour for her new book, Princess Clown.

Here’s what Sheryl has to say:

I usually write Junior Fiction – the 9 to 13 age group, but for the past six months I have added another genre into my work – CHAPTER BOOKS. Princess Clown is out now, and my second chapter book, Charlie and the Red Hot Chilli Pepper will be out in early August with Pearson Australia.

Chapter books are stories designed especially for children who are beginning to grow in confidence with their reading ability. Their vocabulary knowledge is expanding and they are at that special age where they want to do things like the older kids – including reading books by themselves. They also are the right age to be excited and enthused by their new reading skills. Because of all these things, I think Chapter Books are extra special!

Chapter books cater for these developing readers. The books are also called ‘easy readers or bridging books’ for obvious reasons.


  • Fast paced
  • Interesting and lively writing
  • Simple, clear plots
  • Use lots of dialogue to show characterisation
  • Word length can vary from 500 words – 2,500 words
  • Shorter sentences – leave out unnecessary words
  • Short paragraphs
  • Heavily illustrated
  • Usually told through the viewpoint of a single character/or about the adventures of a single character who is generally around the same age as the reader, not younger.

It’s fun imagining stories that might suit the Chapter Book market – especially when they involve funny situations and interesting characters.

Humour rules in chapter books! If you can make kids laugh, they will keep reading and come back for more.

Kids this age also love mysteries, adventure tales and funny mishaps at home with the family or squabbles between friends at school.


Princess Clown began as a challenge … to write a short story using two nouns unrelated to each other. Well, more than unrelated! They had to clash, because that brings conflict. Conflict is the story. CONFLICT RULES!

With princess and clown it was obvious my main character would be a princess who loves clowning so much that is all she wants to do – forever.

Then to ‘up the ante’. This princess, we’ll call her Belle, is the heir to the throne – there is no chance she can follow her dream. But will she stop? Of course not!

When she practises her clowning tricks around the castle – from her schoolroom to the royal kitchens, Belle creates havoc. The King insists she act like the Princess Royal she is. After all, when he was her age, he wanted to be an inventor, but he had to become the King. Of course, in the end, things work out perfectly for Princess Belle.

The original few drafts were much longer. I got everything down on paper, and then pruned the story. Then out went the filler words, while keeping the rhythm of the story flowing. A dozen rewrites later, I was happy with the manuscript and sent it out to publishers.

Blake Publishing accepted Princess Clown. When they edited the story it lost even more words, but they kept its lively pace.

The book is in Blake’s Gigglers Blue 2 series – a set of 8 books especially designed as high-interest chapter books for 7-8 year olds. They are very popular with children and with teachers so naturally schools buy most of them. Princess Clown is also available online or from educational retail outlets. http://www.blake.com.au/Gigglers-Blue-2-Princess-Clown-p/9781741646481.htm

There’s another little thrill if your chapter book becomes a reality – a top illustrator commissioned by the publisher will illustrate it. Princess Clown was so lucky Sian Naylor, a wonderful artist got the job. All her illustrations are in full colour.

Sian captured the spirited and energetic Belle so well, and her depiction of all the other characters went beyond even what I imagined. I didn’t see most of the illustrations until I got my first author’s copy of the book – what a thrill to see the King and Queen of Danzania as African royalty trèschic!


Blake Publishing: http://www.blake.com.au/Primary-Literacy-Fiction-titles-s/119.htm

Penguin Books Australia (Aussie Nibbles series) http://www.penguin.com.au/about/publish.

Pearson Education: Primary Publishing Coordinator, Pearson Australia, 20 Thackray Road,

Port Melbourne, VICTORIA 3207


Sheryl has another chapter book, Charlie and the Red Hot Chilli Pepper – included in Pearson Australia’s new series called Chapters. http://www.pearson.com.au/MC_Images/_FrontCoverLo/9781442525641.jpg

You can catch up with Sheryl on tour at these other great blogs

06 July Tuesday  Dee White – Tips on writing chapter books https://deescribewriting.wordpress.com

07 July Wednesday Rebecca Newman (Alphabet Soup magazine) http://soupblog.wordpress.com

08 July Thursday Robyn Opie www.robynopie.blogspot.com

09 July Friday Catriona Hoy http://catrionahoy.blogspot.com

10 July Saturday Kat Apel katswhiskers.wordpress.com

11 July Sunday Sheryl Gwyther 4 kids http://sherylgwyther4kids.wordpress.com

12 July Monday Sandy Fussell http://sandyfussell.blogspot.com/

13 July Tuesday Sally Murphy www.sallymurphy.blogspot.com

14 July Wednesday Claire Saxby www.letshavewords.blogspot.com

15 July Thursday  Mabel Kaplan http://belka37.blogspot.com

13 thoughts on “TUESDAY WRITING TIP – Writing Chapter Books with Sheryl Gwyther

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