There’s No Easy in Writing for Children

Another fantastic look at the difference between writing for children and writing for adults over at Literary League. One part I particularly liked:

“Children are a very discriminating audience. “None of this nonsense,” as Patricia C. Wrede’s Enchanted Forest witch Morwen likes to say. Adults will, as Neil Gaiman notes above, put up with a certain amount of fluff in the way of scene setting, background explanations, historical side notes, prosy descriptions that are there mainly because the author was feeling literary, preaching that is there because the author has a moral or political point to make, and the like. Children want to get on with the story, so you have to hook them right from the start and keep them hooked.”

The Wrede quote made me cheer. And this is one of my favorite aspects about writing for young readers–they want the story. They don’t have any pretensions about what a novel should be or what they should be getting out of art. If it doesn’t work for them on some level, they’ll set it aside, so you’d better make sure your writing is as crisp as possible.

Bonnie Juettner’s thoughts on appropriateness of language are interesting, too. She mentions two schools of thought on writing for children: one suggests that you need to keep language and content at the child’s skill level so they don’t get overwhelmed; another says you should feel free to write above the child’s skill level if the content is interesting enough to keep them absorbed. Juettner notes:

“Of course, both types of books for children are necessary. Children need books that challenge them, books that delight them, books that make them laugh, books that make them think seriously and philosophically, and books that make them feel secure.”

This means there’s an opportunity for lots of stories and different kinds of writing to connect with lots of different readers. And even the same reader looking for different experiences. (I know that sometimes I’m in the mood for a cozy book and other times I want something that will stretch my brain a little more.)

Make sure to check out the whole post. Do you think writing for children is harder than writing for adults?

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