Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Writing For Children Part Two: The Don'ts

Hello, my friends.

Over the years, I've also learned a few things you should not do when writing for children.

#1: Don't patronize.
Children hate it when adults are condescending to them.  Remeber when you were a child and said something you thought was cool or smart, only to have an adult patronize you?  Remember how annoyed and angry, and possibly hurt you felt?  Writing in a patronizing style is a sure way to turn a child off your story.

#2: Don't moralize.
It is a commonly held belief by some persons that, "Every good story should have a moral!"  I disagree... in part.  I personally don't spend a lot of time and effort on making sure my story has a moral.  When I was a child, I hated stories that were simply a vehicle for a moral.  However, I do believe that good stories should clearly delineate between right and wrong.  If you clearly distinguish between right and wrong, you shouldn't have to worry too much about 'putting in a moral'.  It will naturally be there.  A friend of mine recently put it this way: "Tell a good story and the lessons will follow."  I can't agree with her more.

#3: Don't make it unrealistic.
It is true that in a story where children are the main focus, there will naturally be a greater emphasis on child heroes.  But, don't go overboard.  I mean, how much sense does this make: "Oh, no one in this castle believes me that there is this horrific enemy attack coming.  They all think I'm just babbling off the top of my head.  Why is it so unbelievable that I was hanging upside down practicing standing on my head and those two traitors just stood there and talked about their evil plans in front of me and didn't notice me at all, even when I crashed to the ground in shock at what they said?  Well, since no one believes me, I'll have to go to the capital and tell the king himself.  I just have to sneak out of this castle that is teeming with guards and people everywhere, travel fifty miles on my own, riding the fastest horse from the stables- which no one will notice is missing, arrive at the king's castle, demand to see him, his multitude of guards will take me to him at once because they will see at a glance how important this is, he'll listen to me, give orders to prevent the attack and then cover me with riches, glory and honor, and the hand of his daughter- once we are grown-up, of course.  Oh, and did I mention I'm only TEN years old?" 

Yeah, exactly.  Yes, children can be heroic and will be, when the occasion arises, but please, keep it real.  Children aren't stupid, they don't need to be idolized.  Give them realism over idolism and they will thank you for it; if not now, then someday.

I hope you're all enjoying Scribblers' Conference!  Head on over to Anne's blog to catch her writing posts and also the tag she has made for writers to fill out and link-up with.

Miss Melody Muffin


  1. BAM. You got it. PERFECT. ;D

  2. ooh, good advice. there are so many children's stories that I've loved (or hated) - not because of the story, but because of the way the story is told. some are realistic and believable and well-told, and others…just…suck.
    thanks for influencing the world for good :)

  3. Very well put. I've only found a few authors who have ever got this done really well. One wrote children's books about children and they actually ACTED like kids. She found a way to put in their every day struggles and show them from a kid's point of view, not an adult and saying, "Look, this is silly, get over it."
    Another Author wrote kids books using older characters, but somehow managed to do it in a way where he wasn't speaking down to kids, but giving them heroes to look up to even if they were older.
    It isn't easy, writing children's books and I admire Authors who are able to do it.


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