Nancy's Books

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Keep Them Laughing, part III/Calls for Submissions

Like adults, children live in a serious world. Humor is necessary to add balance and books provide the perfect source for humor. Writing humor is serious business but these tips might add the needed tee-hee sparkle to set your readers chuckling.

1. Read a variety of humorous books to develop an understanding of what works with various age groups.

2. Talk with kids in the age group of your intended audience. Ask them what makes them laugh. Try out your material on children to see if it resonates with them. Normally, I don’t advise writers to try out material with children, but with humorous books, seeing the reaction to the work can be revealing.

3. For young readers and those who enjoy picture books, make the humor direct, simple, and obvious.

4. Older readers enjoy humor that helps diffuse serious situations or in characters who are in situations for which they are unprepared.
Readers love to laugh so keep the audience in mind when writing giggle worthy stories. Humor resonates from the maturity of the readers’ minds and their experiences so light the path with a grin. As Roald Dahl said on giving advice to children’s writers - "It's got to be funny!"

Call for submissions for young writers:
Kentucky State Poetry Society STUDENT POETRY CONTESTS -- K thru 12 -- No entry fees -- Cash Prizes.
Deadline: March 1, 2012
Details at KSPS

Call for submissions for adult writers:
The Southern Review
“We seek to publish the very best new fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and literary essays by established and emerging writers. ” Pays: “$25 per printed page with a maximum payment of $200 for prose and $125 for poetry, plus two copies of the issue in which the work appears and a one-year subscription.”
Deadline: March 1, 2012
Details at

Check out more contests on my blog:


  1. Thanks for your great posts, but I have a question. Why do you say "Normally, I don’t advise writers to try out material with children?" I always have critique partners and other adults read my manuscripts, but I have also "tested" them with age-appropriate readers. Why would that be a problem?

  2. If you're reading to kids, they almost always say they enjoy the story because they love the bonding experience as much or more than the story. However, with humorous pieces an author can see the child's reaction to the parts that are supposed to be funny. Cover/query letters should not state that a writer read the story to kids and the kids enjoyed it. That's the main reason I wrote that sentence, although it's perfectly okay to read stories to kids but I would not base the quality of the story on their reactions. I should have clarified my statement more in the blog. Thanks for pointing this out.