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Re-Learning to Write for Children


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#1 Jayalaw

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Posted 26 May 2012 - 04:18 PM

Hi everyone, my name is Jaya Lakshmi. I am a huge Meg Cabot fan, update a webcomic once a week, and write fantasy at least once a week now. This is a comfort zone issue that I'm having, one that I want to correct.


I just realized something when going over some rejections for children's magazines; by writing for myself, I've forgotten what children are interested in.

One story I wrote was personal but depressing, something that I would have enjoyed reading after my father died, expressing my anger and grief. The children's editor who rejected it said that the story was too "negative" for a magazine that emphasized kids following ther dreams; I agreed with them since my story was about a space shuttle exploding.

In general, when writing for children, what boundaries do you have to set concerning tone and subject matter? We don't curse or have excessive violence, but what are kids always interested in? Neil Gaiman says that his books don't scare children, but Coraline and The Graveyard Book adopt a tone that reflects terrifying fun, like a rollercoaster in a haunted house. Are there any books that can help?


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#2 mediator7

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Posted 28 May 2012 - 12:37 AM

I think it really depends on what type of kid you're writing towards. I think kids like anything from horror to fantasy to realistic so it really depends on the audience. I think fantasy is always a safe place; just look at Harry Potter and Percy Jackson!

I don't know if this book will help or not, but when I was younger I read a book called Writing Magic by Gail Carlson Levine. As you can guess, it was a book for kids about writing, but not a cheesy "So you want to be a writer?" type of book, but a full-fledged chapter book about writing. Since it's written towards kids, it might give you an idea of what kids like reading and/or writing about themselves. (I'm not a hundred percent sure about this though, I don't remember the book that much)

Hope this helps :)
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#3 Jesselover!

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Posted 28 May 2012 - 01:02 PM

I think it really depends on what type of kid you're writing towards. I think kids like anything from horror to fantasy to realistic so it really depends on the audience. I think fantasy is always a safe place; just look at Harry Potter and Percy Jackson!

I don't know if this book will help or not, but when I was younger I read a book called Writing Magic by Gail Carlson Levine. As you can guess, it was a book for kids about writing, but not a cheesy "So you want to be a writer?" type of book, but a full-fledged chapter book about writing. Since it's written towards kids, it might give you an idea of what kids like reading and/or writing about themselves. (I'm not a hundred percent sure about this though, I don't remember the book that much)

Hope this helps :)

I read that book too! I loved it!!!!
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#4 Jayalaw

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Posted 28 May 2012 - 03:57 PM

Thank you, mediator! I own a copy of Writing Magic, so I'll be sure to peruse it again.

I just feel frustrated because a lot of children's books have an optimistic thirst of life that my other works don't have. I need to find a way to recapture that delight in little things, instead of taking a cynical approach. I believe in Kid Power, but I also need to get away from childhood memories, from the angry child that I once was after my father died.
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#5 Jayalaw

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Posted 28 May 2012 - 09:31 PM

One story that I want to write aimed at kids is "Time for Egypt" about a creative teacher's last year conducting a classroom Egypt project before state regulations set in. It would be a Bradbury-style novella, told from the kids' perspective as they delve into fascinating mummy dissections and mythology. I'm not sure what each story would be, though
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