Sometimes writing a book feels like an awful lot of work. There are so many tasks to accomplish. Writers have to establish the character, build the world, raise the stakes, advance the plot, develop the character, add some subplots--just to name a few of them.

When I work on a project, I can get so focused on tackling this checklist that I forget an important element. So I've added another item. Remember to put in some fun!

This may seem kind of obvious, but I've read many well-intentioned MG novels that only succeed in dutifully following the rules.

What do I mean by putting in fun?

1. Make necessities an opportunity for invention.
In my chapter book, Clint McCool needed to be picked up from school. This task could have been accomplished by any adult--even his mom. But where's the fun in that? I decided to give the job to the worst possible person--his old babysitter.

Meet Mrs. Brussels (so wonderfully drawn by Jessika von Innerebner). Mrs. Brussels knows every embarrassing thing about Clint McCool--including what was in his diapers. I was shameless. I put in a few poop jokes. But fun isn't limited to being funny. 

2. Savor the moment. 
Don't rush through those good parts. Use all your senses to enjoy them. Is your character eating ice-cream? Discovering a ghost in the closet? Swimming with dolphins? Well, we want to do that too. So make sure you let us. 

3. Put in puppies and kittens--or any adorable thing.
They're cute! They're comical! Who doesn't love them? Who wouldn't stop to pet one no matter how busy they were advancing the plot? 

4. Geek out.
Kids really do like learning things. Add in a few fun facts about Greek heroes or gross viruses, or whatever your character might have wanted to find out. 

5. Defeat the bully.
Give us a little satisfaction. It's fun to see the pompous jerk slip on that banana peel -- even if he or she will get back up to cause the crisis. 

6. Indulge us. 

Sometimes I think of a novel as a Christmas tree. It needs to have a trunk and branches. It needs a stand. I have to remember to water it. But what would the tree be without those colorful baubles?
My apologies for inserting Christmas in November's post. But I couldn't figure out how to make a turkey fun. Can you?


  1. I enjoyed this post Jane. Turkey;s have fun when they outsmart the farmer trying to catch one for T-giving dinner.

  2. Love this list - and look forward to meeting Mrs. Brussels!


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