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Children's Stories

Crumbly Writer

Has anyone here tried writing children's stories. I don't mean the little picture books for infants, but the old time sci-fi novels by the likes of C. S. Lewis which told largely adult tales but with very young children as the protagonists. I'm considering writing one, although I have no specific project in mind, but it seems like an interesting challenge. I've written many stories with young children as characters, but none that were specifically targeted at the largely pre-teen to teen market.

Does anyone have any particularly good suggestions, recommendations or examples of what to do and what to avoid at all costs?

Most of my stories are directed at 14+, as even the 'clean versions' on FS include adult content told in adult language.

I think I'll have to spend several weeks reading the old classics, to remind myself of how the masters of yesteryear handled it. But then, I'll probably need to figure out what the same market nowadays reads, as I'm sure it's completely different from back when I was a kid.

Plus, if anyone has any direct experience, especially concerning just how receptive that particular market is to novels nowadays (as opposed to the 'novelization' of Marvel and Star Wars movies), that would be especially appreciated.

Switch Blayde
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@Crumbly Writer

The first thing you'll need to decide is the POV the story is told from.

An omniscient narrator? Third-limited? Or the child in 1st-person? If it's 1st-person, is the child recounting something that happened in their youth but they're an adult now (e.g., To Kill a Mockingbird) or told from a child's perspective (e.g., Huck Finn)?

The voice will be quite different.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

Again, I haven't gotten to the planning stages, and don't even have a plot idea yet. I'm just considering what might be involved so I can begin searching for a suitable story.

I seem to do better with 3rd Person omni stories, especially since I envision writing about a group of, say, three kids of roughly the same age. I'm unsure whether it'd be a fantasy of sci-fi story.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

I seem to do better with 3rd Person omni stories


That would be easier. You can write everything except the dialogue as an adult.

Ernest Bywater

Robert Heinlein had a lot of stuff you could read as samples, and the stuff Isaac Asimov wrote with his wife would be good too.

REP

@Crumbly Writer

Does anyone have any particularly good suggestions, recommendations or examples of what to do and what to avoid at all costs?


I would pattern my story on Heinlein's stories. Fantasies that young people can comprehend without having the higher level of maturity and experience that adult stories require. Definitely an adventure story in which the MC(s) and their friends can outdo adults.

Make your MC(s) an older teen. Sex to first, second, and third base, but no Home Run.

gmontgomery

Louis L'Amour is a good author to model after. He wrote in what is now a PG style.

PotomacBob

@Crumbly Writer

I don't mean the little picture books


What's wrong with the little picture books. I loved them. Still have them.

Darian Wolfe

I always loved Heinlein's "Have Spacesuit will Travel" I still read it once a year or so. I think it might be right up your alley.

Some other works you might explore:

The Tripods Trilogy by John Christopher
The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper

A teen romantic short from Heinlein "The Menace from Earth"

Replies:   Ernest Bywater  REP
Ernest Bywater

@Darian Wolfe

I always loved Heinlein's "Have Spacesuit will Travel"


Ayep, that's a good one, but I prefer Space Family Stone for the way grandma and the kids interact.

shinerdrinker
Updated:

I actually caught some flak from a few friends who enjoyed mocking me for my love of Ernest Cline's "Ready Player One." But that is more Young Adult and I could see myself writing for that genre since basically I prefer to think of myself as a Young Adult.

And for the record, I much preferred the book over the movie. Even though the movie was very good and should serve as a wonderful weekend afternoon flick to enjoy for years to come.

red61544

Crumbly, all the advice we can give you means very little. To write a story for kids, you have to be around kids and see how they think and act. Talk to teachers of the age group you are targeting. Talk to parents and, if they allow, talk to their kids. As you know, any story needs to aim, not at a person's reality but at their dreams, at their desires, and at their fondest hopes. Today's kids are very different than we were at the same age - different dreams, desires, and hopes. You are going to have to get into their heads if you want your story to get in there, too.

REP

@Darian Wolfe

my favorite is The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

Replies:   Darian Wolfe
Darian Wolfe

@REP

That's a pretty fun universe. I enjoy "Stranger" a lot because I'm a fan of Jubal's.

karactr

I think the real question here, is are you considering a book for young adults or for even younger groups.
Heinlein's early works were good (I've read and own them all), but they are geared for young adults. The first few Harry Potter books, or (was it Le'Quin?) the Earthsea series were meant for teens and pre-teens, but with some adult themes. For earlier age groups, Liminey Snickett would be a decent popular example.
There are tons of examples for each, not all of them good or well received.
My suggestion...Ask a real librarian for good age group related novels of the type.

Replies:   JohnBobMead
JohnBobMead

@karactr

(was it Le'Quin?) the Earthsea series


Ursula K. LeGuin.

Real nice lady, actually chatted with her for a couple of minutes at a presentation at Portland State University while I was as student there.

Yes, the Earthsea series is a good example, the first three volumes of it. The later work is aimed more at her adult readers who had read it as children, so many years had passed.

Ask a real librarian for good age related novels of the type.


Diffidently raises hand.

Caveat: I wasn't a Children's Librarian, so my knowledge is based upon what I read as a child, and what I shelved as the page in the Children's Library at the Multnomah County Public Library's Central Library in 1979-80, and what I've read since then. Professionally, I dealt with Adult Reference.

Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Cycle. Fantasy based on Welsh mythology.

H. M. Hoover. Pretty much anything she wrote, although I'd look at Children of Morrow and Treasures of Morrow first. Definitely falls in the SF end of the spectrum.

Diana Wynne Jones. More toward the fantasy end.

John Christopher's Tripods Quadrilogy and The Sword of the Spirits Trilogy. The Guardians is also very good. Science Fiction, although it takes a while to catch on to that with The Sword of the Spirits, where the science is being cloaked as magic.

Peter Dickinson's The Changes Trilogy, and The Blue Hawk. I'm not sure what I'd classify The Changes as, since at the very end you discover that the cause of what's happened is magical in nature, what it really deals with is the What If? of everyone in the UK suddenly being violently allergic to post-industrial technology. Violently is the operative term; if they come across working modern technology, they set out to pound it into little bitty pieces. It follows different children as they deal with the ensuing chaos. The Blue Hawk deals with an Ancient Egypt type setting, with the Gods being real; at the end you get the feeling that there was a previous high-tech society that had star travel, and discovered and harnessed some really ET non-material lifeforms to act as their Gods, which led to the establishment of the culture of the story, the culmination of which is their being released from the bindings placed upon them and their going back where they had been. The story proper focuses on the Acolyte they choose for the purpose of making that happen as a result of his actions. This description does not do it justice, at all!

Ellen Kindt McKenzie. Taash and the Jesters, Kashka, and The Golden Band of Eddris all share a setting, with the first two having major character overlaps; the three were published in reverse chronological order in regard to the story universe. The second actually sets the stage for the first novel, but they really should be read in the publication order, to avoid major spoilers. Drujienna's Harp. Fantasy.

Hmm. This list does seem to be rather fantasy biased.

Anne McCaffrey's Harper Hall Trilogy within her Pern series. Um, yeah, fantasy cloaked as science fiction...

Hokay... Yeah, do talk to your local Children's Librarian. They will be much more in touch with what's been written in the last 15-20 years.

Replies:   Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach
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@JohnBobMead


Hmm. This list does seem to be rather fantasy biased.


For "real life": Almost anything by John Green, especially his The Fault in Our Stars.

Weren't the "Twilight" stories intended for teens?

bb

Bondi Beach

@Crumbly Writer

Has anyone here tried writing children's stories. I don't mean the little picture books for infants, but the old time sci-fi novels by the likes of C. S. Lewis which told largely adult tales but with very young children as the protagonists. I'm considering writing one, although I have no specific project in mind, but it seems like an interesting challenge. I've written many stories with young children as characters, but none that were specifically targeted at the largely pre-teen to teen market.


No one has mentioned Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy—The Golden Compass, etc. They were marketed as YA fiction but work for adults as well.

Kind of like C.S. Lewis's "Narnia" and other Christian allegories, in fact. Except, of course, Pullman argues exactly the opposite proposition.

He has a trio of short stories to accompany the main books, plus he's opened a second front with The Book of Dust, which is pretty stiff reading and not exactly YA mainstream.

bb

helmut_meukel

Heinlein's "Podkayne of Mars",
some of James H. Schmitz stories:
"Grandpa", MC 15yo Cord;
"Balanced Ecology", MCs Auris (13) and her cousin Ilf Cholm (11);
some, not all, Telzey Amberdon stories, MC 15yo Telzey, genius level; I doubt "Resident Witch" is suitable for teens.

HM.

Keet

There actually is a children's story on SOL from Oz Ozzie.
http://storiesonline.net/s/62680/my-story-the-horse

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