Writing For Kids: 5 top tips for creating a page-turning story

Writing For Kids: 5 top tips for creating a page-turning story

I get very excited every time I receive a new post for the Writing For Kids series because I learn something new from every post.

They might be writing tips aimed at kids, but they’re actually brilliant for writers of any age. After all, these are writing tips from some of Australia’s top children’s authors!

This week, Sue Whiting is taking time out from launching her brand-new book – The Book Of Chance – to share her 5 best tips for creating a page-turning story. If you’ve ever read any of Sue’s work – from picture books, through middle-grade fiction, to YA stories – you’ll know that these are tips worth reading.

5 top tips for creating a page-turning story

Don’t you love a book that keeps you up late at night? Turning the pages quickly, heart pumping and eyes flying across the page? I certainly do.

When I write, this is what I’m aiming for too – a thrilling, page-turning story, full of nail-biting suspense. One to keep my readers up late at night to find out what is going to happen next.

So here are my top tips for creating these page-turning stories.


In order for readers to keep turning the pages and go on a story journey with your characters, readers must firstly CARE about them. Deeply.

They must worry for them. They must empathise with them. And the best way to achieve this is to show how your characters are FEELING and what they are THINKING.

These insights into the hearts and minds of your characters are all-important, if you want your readers to care.

2.     BE A MEANIE

Writing stories is the one time in your life when you get to be a big bad meanie.

In fact, if you want your readers to turn the pages, you HAVE to be MEAN. It is your DUTY as the boss of your story.

After all, stories are all about characters getting into trouble (and getting out of trouble). So YOU are responsible. It is up to you to create that trouble – big trouble – trouble that will make your readers fret and frown and twist their hands with worry.

So be MEAN to your characters and make their lives as DIFFICULT as possible.


As the boss of your story, it is important that you know what your characters want – to find a lost friend, to catch the bad guy, to discover the miracle cure etc.

It is also important that the CONSEQUENCES if your characters are unsuccessful are HUGE: DIRE, DISASTROUS, DEVASTATING.

So as well as being mean, you must make the STAKES HIGH. This will ensure a thrilling story, where your readers’ hearts will be pounding, and you will have them worrying all the more – and, yes, you guessed it, turning those pages quickly.


This might sound contradictory. I don’t mean make your story slow; what I mean is that you should try to keep a few SECRETS and SURPRISES up your sleeve, a few unexpected TWISTS and TURNS that you REVEAL slowly throughout the story.

These unexpected twists and surprises slotted in at just the right moment, when your readers least expect them, will make them think, Uh-oh. I didn’t see that coming. I need to read the next chapter now!


Telling stories is very similar to telling lies. And the best way to tell a lie is to make sure it is as close as possible to the truth.

The same goes for stories.

If you want your readers to keep turning those pages, then you need to make your story CONVINCING. And the way to achieve that is to pepper in as much TRUTH – specific details, authentic emotions – as you can in order to make your story, no matter how fantastical, CREDIBLE and BELIEVABLE.

This is a sure way to hook your readers and to keep them reading.

Happy writing everyone!

Sue Whiting has written many books in a variety of genres: fiction and nonfiction, picture books through to YA. Her latest book is The Book Of Chance, for middle-grade readers, out now through Walker Books Australia.

More writing tips for kids

How To Write Funny Stories

How To Create Remarkable Characters

Write What You Love

Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher.

You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

If you’d love more writing advice for kids, check out my Online Creative Writing Quest For Kids

COVER REVEAL: ‘The Fire Star’, new from A.L. Tait

COVER REVEAL: ‘The Fire Star’, new from A.L. Tait

I am so very excited to share the beautiful cover of THE FIRE STAR (A Maven & Reeve Mystery), published by Penguin Books Australia on 1 September 2020.

The Fire Star, new from A.L. Tait


Step inside the castle. The mystery awaits . . .

A maid with a plan.

A squire with a secret.

A missing jewel.

A kingdom in turmoil.

Maven and Reeve have three days to solve the mystery of the Fire Star.

This could be a complete disaster . . . or the beginning of a great friendship.

Hasn’t the Penguin team done a wonderful job? I CANNOT WAIT for you and your young readers (12+) to meet Maven and Reeve and share their adventures.

You can pre-order through Booktopia here, through your favourite online bookseller here, or order at your local bookshop for delivery on 1 September.

Let the countdown begin!

Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher.

 You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

10+ GGSD (Girls Getting Stuff Done) Middle-Grade Reads

10+ GGSD (Girls Getting Stuff Done) Middle-Grade Reads

10+ GGSD (Girls Getting Stuff Done) Middle Grade Reads | allisontait.com “Very few writers really know what they are doing until they’ve done it.”

Anne Lamott’s quote has always resonated with me for two reasons. One is that you don’t really know how to write a book until you get in there and write one.

The second is that sometimes you don’t even realise what you’ve written until you reach The End – and, even then, sometimes not until someone else tells you.

In the spotlight today is my good friend Allison Rushby, the author of many books for children, YA and adults, who can also relate to this quote.

Discovering what you’ve really written

When The Turnkey was released in 2017, I was overjoyed with the reviews it received – until  one stopped me in my tracks.

The reviewer called The Turnkey “surreptitiously feminist” and I found myself reading her review over and over again, because it made me think A LOT about exactly what it was that I’d written.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the review in question was a lovely one (you can read it in its entirety here). In her review, one of the main points the reviewer makes is that, throughout the novel, Flossie remains in charge.

No older male steps in to tell her what to do, or how to save the day. Rather, she’s put in charge of large groups of men, including soldiers, and these men all happily report back to her as she works out how she’s going to save her cemetery and country.

At the time of reading this eye-opening review, I was finishing up the first draft of The Seven Keys (the second book in The Turnkey series, released this month with Walker Books Australia). I began to ask myself if what I was writing was also “surreptitiously feminist”…

I didn’t have to ponder this question long. There was nothing “surreptitious” about it. By the end of The Seven Keys, almost every key role in London’s twilight world is filled by a female character. The Seven Keys is just flat-out feminist.

When it comes to the portrayal of females in others’ work, I wasn’t surprised to find that a lot of the middle-grade fiction I connect with also has strong female protagonists. I do so love a good go-getting heroine. A girl who GSD (Gets Stuff Done) just like Flossie and her friends do in The Turnkey and The Seven Keys.

With this in mind, I came up with a list of some of my favourite GGSD (Girls Getting Stuff Done) middle-grade/upper-middle-grade reads that I hope you and your little reader love as much as I do.

10+ GGSD (Girls Getting Stuff Done) Middle Grade reads

Out Of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

Melody’s body might not be strong (she has cerebral palsy), but her mind is fierce. She’s on a one woman mission to let her classmates know just how smart she really is.

The War That Saved My Life and The War I Finally Won by Kimberley Brubaker Bradley

Ada’s fight for self-worth and a life to call her own is absolutely heartbreaking, as is her carer’s backstory of love and the loss of her partner. Together, these strong-willed characters manage to help each other strive for a happy ever after.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

The star of the show is Ivan (a caged gorilla who lives in a shopping mall), but clear-eyed Julia, the custodian’s daughter, is underrated in this tale. Her actions and courage will stay with you for a long time.

The Ateban Cipher series by A.L. Tait

In a world of monks and a stolen illuminated text, it takes a couple of smart girls to get in there, work out what’s going on and begin to set things to rights.

The Family with Two Front Doors by Anna Ciddor

Set in 1920s Poland and centred on a very religious Jewish family, this might seem a strange choice, but the historical setting and different way of life provides so much to discuss from a feminist perspective.

Everything I’ve Never Said by Samantha Wheeler

Ava is desperate to communicate with her family, but Rett Syndrome makes this impossible. That is, until some new people in her life allow this strong, driven character to finally show the world her true personality.

The Ratcatcher’s Daughter by Pamela Rushby

It’s 1900 and Issy’s father is a rat-catcher. When he becomes ill, it’s up to Issy to – wait for it – help rid Brisbane of the plague.

Lenny’s Book of Everything by Karen Foxlee

Lenny’s world is falling apart, but how she deals with this (and, especially, her mother’s abusive partner) shows the depth of her character.

A Single Stone by Meg McKinlay

Jena must deny herself food and wrap her limbs in order to stay small so she can slip inside rock crevices and retrieve precious mica. It is only when she begins to question the inconsistencies in her world that she can be set free.

Front Desk by Kelly Yang

Mia’s immigrant parents are doing it tough and so is Mia, who tends the desk at the Calivista motel while they clean rooms. She might be small, but this tenacious heroine packs a lot of “I can do it!” action into one book.

Allison Rushby is the author of more than 20 books. Her latest middle-grade novel, The Seven Keys, is the sequel to the award-winning The Turnkey. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.







Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher.

You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

If you’d like more book suggestions for your young reader, join the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook community.

*This post contains affiliate links. Click the title of each book to find out more about it or to purchase from Booktopia.

News, reviews + interviews (July 2019)

News, reviews + interviews (July 2019)

I confess the heading for this post may be misleading – this month, it’s mostly about the news!


Writers love writers’ festivals. We love them. They’re busy and tiring and a little bit crazy for someone like me, who spends most of her time alone with her computer and her dog.

But the joy of them for authors is that, for a few days, you’re part of a team of people who are doing exactly what you’re doing.

Which is why I’ve returned from the Whitsunday Voices Youth Literary Festival tired but with a huge smile on my face. With more than 5000 students taking part over two days, the festival, held in Mackay, is a huge event, but it is so incredibly well organised by the festival team that you feel as though nothing could possibly go wrong.

Sure, behind the scenes, there may have been hiccoughs, but we didn’t see them and I think the students who came to the many and various sessions would agree.

I’m sharing a few pics below so that you can get an idea of the flavour of the event.

Opening night panel with Jeann from Happy Indulgence book blog, Samantha Wheeler, Steven Herrick and me

A lovely drawing from a student.

One of six wonderful sessions.

In the green room. Pic: Michael Gerard Bauer



Shoalhaven Readers’ & Writers’ Festival

Next up for me on the writers’ festival front is the Shoalhaven Readers’ & Writers’ Festival this weekend. As director of the children’s program, I’ll have the pleasure of escorting Jacqueline Harvey to her school visits on Friday, while Jack Heath is looked after by another volunteer, and then introducing the festival on Saturday at Nowra Library (storytime from 10am) before conducting my all-but-soldout writing workshop later that day.

It’s all very exciting!

Other news

In the meantime, however, I have the absolute pleasure tomorrow of launching the MS Readathon in the Illawarra. I’m an author ambassador for the MS Readathon this year and I couldn’t be happier to be part of something that promotes reading in the widest sense of the word whilst also raising funds for a very worthy cause.

You can read more about the MS Readathon here, and I’ll report back on the launch later in the week.

Procrastipup and I are ready for the MS Readathon.


So You Want To Be A Writer, my book with my fabulous podcast co-host Valerie Khoo, has been garnering some lovely reviews. Thanks so much to Dianne Bates from BuzzWords for this review:.

“...it should prove to be very popular, in fact (in the words of Pamela Hart, award-winning historical fiction author), ‘it is perfect for the person who wants to write but doesn’t have the confidence or the know-how to start.’”

And to Nicole Melanson from Word Mothers for this one:

Whether you are merely curious about writing or already well established, I’d wager there are some useful tips for you sprinkled throughout So You Want to Be a Writer.”

Meanwhile, on Amazon, I was thrilled by this review, among others:










Thanks to everyone who’s left reviews! If you’ve read and enjoyed any of my books and you have a minute, please consider leaving a review on your platform of choice. It’s one of the very best gifts you can give any writer.

Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher.

 You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

100+ gift book ideas for kids of all ages

100+ gift book ideas for kids of all ages

100+ book gift ideas for kids of all ages | allisontait.comToday the very last of my 2018 book lists was published by Vanessa over at Style & Shenanigans, so it seems a very good time to collate them all in one place for easy reference (as much for me, as for you…)

So, here it is, the ultimate list of my recent book lists. Hundreds of books for readers aged from babies to teens.

If you’re looking for a new read for your kids for Christmas, for the holidays, or at any time of year, bookmark this page for easy reference. Click the post title to visit the full list.

Your Kid’s Next Read: Recommended reading lists for kids 10+, 12+, 14+ (2018 edition)

15 more tried-and-tested books for 13/14-year-old boys (+ 13 expert choices)

5 picture book picks for Christmas

10 spooky (or scary) middle-grade books for Halloween

40 YA books for tweens (+ 25 middle-grade books that feel like YA)

23 newish books for tweens by Australian women

21 book gifts for reluctant readers they won’t be able to resist

30 books by Australian authors to give to kids this Christmas

30 (more) brilliant books for girls this Christmas

The best kids’ books for Christmas

I’m sure you’ll find the perfect book for your young reader on one of these lists!

Need more? You’ll find another 100+ book ideas for your young reader here, in my round-up on last year’s book lists (great books remain great books, no matter what year they’re published, after all…)

If you’re after specific recommendations for a very particular kind of reader, why not join my Facebook community Your Kid’s Next Read, where you’ll find 5000+ parents, teachers, booksellers, librarians, bloggers and other interested parties all ready to help with recommendations? We’d love to see you there.

Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m the author of two epic adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher, and you can find out more about me here.

Both The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher are great for kids aged 9+ and you can find out more about them here

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