“A fantasy story set in a fascinating world that draws you in - I finished the book in one day! Can't wait for the next one” (Amazon 5 star review)
“You must write for children in the same way as you do for adults, only better” Maxim Gorky
It took several days to decide what to write for this guest piece. Why is writing for children different to writing for adults? Does one set off with the intention of writing for children – or is it determined another way?
Children see easily through weak plot lines or poor characterisation. They have no time for stories that preach or talk down to them. It is essential that children’s stories are well-written. But that is equally true about stories written for adults, so what makes someone decide to write a children’s book instead?
“Adults are only obsolete children” Dr Seuss, One fish, two fish
Many great writers became children’s writers because of close relationships with their own children. Lord of the Rings writer J R R Tolkein started his writing career by penning illustrated letters to his children in the guise of Santa Claus. His great novel The Hobbit developed when he found an empty space in an exam paper he was marking and felt compelled to fill it. He wrote, “In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit.” He used this sentence as the basis of a story which he re-told to his children, growing the story as he went along.
Both Kenneth Grahame and A A Milne had sons who inspired their writing. Grahame’s son Alistair, otherwise known as ‘mouse’ was born with a visual impairment. Grahame made up stories throughout Alistair’s childhood, developing the characters in Wind in the Willows we know and love today. It is believed he created Mr Toad to teach young ‘mouse’ the difference between right and wrong.
A A Milne’s son Christopher Robin Milne was the inspiration behind Winnie the Pooh and the House at Pooh Corner. Piglet, Eyeore and many of the other animal characters were imagined from young Christopher’s stuffed toys.
As Madeleine L’Engle, author of A Wrinkle in Time says,
“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”
Beau Garnie & the Invisimin Mine evolved during a walk on the local common with my young son Alex. We imagined racing hares, moving mushrooms, intellectual rats and a tiny race of people trying to survive in a magical world low on resources. The idea was conceived with Alex’s help; he was crucial to the plot development, gave endless critiques, boosted my flagging morale and would not let me give up. The book could not have existed without him. It is a children’s book written by someone who was once a child in cahoots with someone who is still a child (although steaming rapidly towards teenager-hood).
Like the writers above, I didn’t specifically set out to write for children. It just happened by being around them.
“I don’t write for children. I write. And somebody says, that’s for children.” Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild things are.
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About the Author
Jacqueline Beard is an English writer and genealogist living in Gloucestershirem, UK, with her husband, son and Border terrier where she spends much of her time dog walking through the glorious Cotswolds. When not writing or researching her extensive family tree, Jacqui can be found gardening, or reading. Jacqui loves dogs, computers and good quality chocolate but is a lousy cook. Visit Jacqueline's blog at http://jacquelinebeardwriter.wordpress.com/ and find her on Twitter @Jacquibwriter