Friday, 21 November 2014

Writing for Children - Tip 23 #writetip

As mentioned in the previous tip, generally children have an extremely low boredom threshold. They want action in their books and not history, geography, or any other type of lesson – not even on subjects that are otherwise exciting.

Tip 23 – Mama Don’t Teach

Let’s say your story is about time travel and your young heroes find themselves back in the middle-ages. Clearly they’ll be wearing the wrong clothes and will have all sorts of adventures.

Don’t be tempted to write long passages on what everyone wore back then – your readers won’t care, they’ll just want to know what happens next in the story. Your audience only needs to be told about medieval clothing as it affects your story.

Let’s take the same tale a little further and have our time travellers landing in France, or some other European destination. As with the clothing, your readers only need to know about the country’s language and geography where it impacts on the characters in your story.

If your time travellers land in a mystical world where everyone can use magic except them, the same rules apply. Show the reader what the magic can do, but don’t bore them to tears with a lesson on how it works.

The exception is when understanding the workings of magic is essential to the story, but do try to keep the lesson short and introduce it through action and dialogue.

Then we come to the time travelling machine itself. Describe what it looks like by all means, but don’t go overboard with long narrative passages about shiny chrome panels and levers.

If it is going to break down and leave your travellers stranded, or a second one has to be built for some reason, give some details about the mechanics, but only what is essential to make the story work.

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