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Fiction
Writing for older kids? (karma: 3)
By Louisemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 17315, member since Thu Jun 06, 2002
On Mon Jan 02, 2012 10:17 AM

I'm finally getting round to writing my debut novel which will simply serve the purpose of being practice. "Write what you know," they say, so I'm going for something to do with Irish dancing. So the natural thing to do is to make it appeal to older kids - anywhere from about age 10, and something that adults could pick up for a quick read too. Obviously I have no delusions that this one will get published but that's the kind of feel I'd like it to have.

Any advice? Anyone ever written for older children before? I definitely don't want to talk down to my hypothetical readers.

I do have another idea for a book which could be for older kids or adults, and if I find I'm good at writing for kids then I'll take it in that direction.

9 Replies to Writing for older kids?

re: Writing for older kids? (karma: 1)
By Niennamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 6776, member since Fri Oct 07, 2005
On Mon Jan 02, 2012 10:54 AM
Is there anyway you can spend some time around some kids in the age group you're writing for? I was working on a story about a 10 year old and then I was around a 10 year old for my trip to San Diego and realize I had written a voice that was too mature for a 10 year old; no one would believe a 10 year old would speak in the dialogue I had, especially since my 10 year old wasn't meant to be exceptionally brilliant or bookish.

Another thing you can do is peruse the children's and young adult's sections of your library. Check out the Scholastic website to see what kids are reading nowadays and see if you can't peek at those books. Obviously you don't want to steal from other authors, but it gives you a chance to see what sort of voice other people writing for that age group use.

I would also recommend peeking at the first books in both the Harry Potter trilogy and the Percy Jackson and the Olympians trilogy. Harry is 11 in his first year and I believe Percy is 12. They're fantasy series, but I think they do a good job giving their main characters appropriate voices, and I also think the writing is quite clever and thus very appealing to adults as well.

Good luck! My main target audience when I write is young adults, like 14-18, and that's a challenge in itself. Writing for a younger audience is even more so, especially when you're not constantly surrounded by kids.
re: Writing for older kids?
By Louisemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 17315, member since Thu Jun 06, 2002
On Mon Jan 02, 2012 11:07 AM
Oh very good point about the dialogue! I've made my main girl 13, so she probably wouldn't be too "young" in what she's saying but then I'm thinking of myself at 13 and I was old before my time!

Hopefully I can start picking up some more dance classes when we start back up over the Christmas break, so I can hang out with the kids, lol. Another very good suggestion.

Thanks!
re: Writing for older kids?
By Chaconnemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 6359, member since Thu Jul 12, 2007
On Mon Jan 02, 2012 01:09 PM
Edited by Chaconne (182529) on 2012-01-02 13:16:43 sp
I might suggest that you also could talk to a librarian in the kids' departments to see what they are reading (and more importantly what they are not reading.)

I worked in a public library when I was in high school. At the time I was perhaps a tad older than your target audience since late teens are expected to be able to handle most adult literature, but I had to shelve and retrieve the books that kids a few year younger than I was were reading. Ask what the readers in the tween and early teen years. When I worked in such a library, the juvenile department librarians (that was the term at my hometown library) were very much "up" on what kids were reading. A bookstore with a young adult department might also be useful. My observations, both from working in the library, and my own experiences at a similar age was that there usually was a sharp divide between what girls read and what boys read.
(That may be the real secrect to Harry Potter among juvenile readers...it appeals to both boys and girls.)

I seem to remember that the young adult literature in my era (admittedly 50+ years ago) was heavily into characters the age of the readers striving for the interaction with their peers (think Judy Blume sorts of things) or of young careerists trying to move into adult careers...in short the "what do I want to be when I grow up and how do I get there sort of fiction."

There seemed to be far more available for girls (to my frustration at that age) than for boys, perhaps because girls were more inclined to do recreational reading and a majority of the authors targeting that age were women. As a boy of say 12-13, I wasn't going to read "Sue Barton, Student Nurse" (to cite one of the most popular books series of that era), but I did really dig some fiction of boys doing things which might lead to professional careers. I remember really relating to a story about a kid just a bit older than I was at the time who was into technical things (among the inspirations for me to get my radio license) who wasn't a nerd or a geek. PS, He got the girl...and so did I, LOL.

Now that girls are not limited to professions like nursing and teaching...some fiction about a teen girl setting up her own enterprise which ultimately leads to a scholarship in business and becoming a CEO in her 20's might be cool.

Jon
re: Writing for older kids?
By Heartmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 15032, member since Thu Feb 14, 2002
On Mon Jan 02, 2012 01:13 PM
Perhaps check out the Little House on the Prarie series too. Laura is very young when the books start - I want to say even younger than 10 - and the writing progresses, getting more complex as she gets older.
re: Writing for older kids? (karma: 1)
By ChristinePremium member Comments: 6817, member since Wed Feb 04, 2009
On Mon Jan 02, 2012 01:31 PM
The YA section in all the book stores is one of the few that seems to be growing. I think Irish Dancing is a perfect platform to use to launch your stories. Dance metaphors always work and dancing is active, not cerebral, so this dynamic will help keep it moving forward.

I wrote a short story a few years ago aimed at this audience and in the end it seemed that the success of the story was that it was more universal than the age limits of the audience. This, I believe, is where the Harry Potter stories built their greatest audience.

In all fiction writing, I find plot to be the most challenging. I sometimes have to remind myself that ultimately, most stories can be related to 44 Greek Plays and The Bible, in some manner, shape or form. I only mention this because I find it the greatest challenge. Others find dialogue cumbersome, and with your audience you might find this so.

Obviously I have no delusions that this one will get published


You are an excellent writer. I suspect you will be published sooner than you allow yourself to dream.

I wish you the very best of luck.

Keep On Dancing*
re: Writing for older kids?
By Dream_chaserPremium member Comments: 25854, member since Thu Jul 26, 2001
On Sun Jan 08, 2012 12:32 PM
That is fabulous! I like to write, but do not have the talent for a book. I have done articles, newspaper columns and short stories, but never a book.

You need some sort of start up action, right at the start, to make them want to delve deeper and find out what is going on. It's sort of like ads for movies. They show just enough to make you want to find out more.

Get your main characters in there, from the start. If it's a book geared to girls, the main character should be a girl. Think of Bella in Twilight.

One thing that I cannot stand, and I know kids and teens can't, are long paragraphs. Keep them short. I remember learning this in creative writing.

Be different. Don't be like others. When I buy a book that sounds like every other book, I don't even bother. I want to be surprised with how the book moves along.

My favorite books have a little whit in them, even if they are serious. Younger kids like more slapstick type humor, teens can be more obscure.

As a child, and teen, I liked books that sounded like they could be happening to me. I did not connect with stories of the past, or future until I was much older.

Happy or hopeful endings work well. I was not one, and still am not, one who likes sad endings. I like to walk away from a book, feeling good.

I guess it just comes down to what YOU would read at that age, honestly. I would LOVE to be able to read your book!
re: Writing for older kids? (karma: 1)
By PogMoGilliesmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 3157, member since Tue Apr 24, 2007
On Sun Jan 08, 2012 12:49 PM
The best stories are ones with a strong characters, no matter what the story is about. There are some great stories that incorportate dance- like Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield. Don't get too bogged down in describing each dance class, but focus more on the emotions of the characters- for instance, if you look at Harry Potter's classes, they are more about what he thinks of the lesson than actually how to transfigure a matchstick.
re: Writing for older kids?
By Dream_chaserPremium member Comments: 25854, member since Thu Jul 26, 2001
On Sun Jan 08, 2012 01:01 PM
PogMoGillies wrote:

The best stories are ones with a strong characters, no matter what the story is about. There are some great stories that incorportate dance- like Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield. Don't get too bogged down in describing each dance class, but focus more on the emotions of the characters- for instance, if you look at Harry Potter's classes, they are more about what he thinks of the lesson than actually how to transfigure a matchstick.


Very true. Kids in dance already know all about it, kids not in dance, will be lost. Good advice!
re: Writing for older kids?
By rosalinde Comments: 1973, member since Fri Jun 19, 2009
On Sat Feb 18, 2012 07:37 AM
Good for you to want to start writing! I've been writing short stories for some 15 years now, and two years ago I discovered NaNoWriMo. I now have two novels under my belt (and that's where they're going to stay as it were, no desire to publish as yet).

If you can't wait till November, try Camp NaNoWriMo this July and August! campnanowrimo.org . . .
You'll get to hang out with people who are also trying their hand at writing, including the kind of YA book you have planned.

For a good forum that stays pretty active all year round (though increases its activity in the fall obviously a million times) is at the main site: www.nanowrimo.org

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