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Writing From The Heart
Your Kids Heart
by Kathryn Lay
Whether you want to write FOR kids or about
them, sometimes the most difficult part of it all is getting into their head and
getting it down realistically on paper. Dialogue, scene, situation, plot,
kids can give up on a short story or book before you can say zit.
And all these elements that make a good adult story good are the same ones kids
need, except with a much smaller word count.
Do you want to write for the juvenile market? Do
you wonder what is popular, with it, or cool?
You dont have to go far to find out. Your kids
have all the answers. My daughter often tells me that she should be getting my
writing checks, since she inspires me so much of the time.
It isnt difficult to begin learning about kids
for your stories.
Begin a notebook of questions and find the
1. What do your kids say? How do they say it?
Capture their dialogue, their body language, and their banter back and forth.
Watch out for slang though, it is easily outdated. Listen for unusual slang that
isnt in, but perhaps your childs own idea. It may be a good character
2. What do they do? What are your childrens
interests and hobbies? Make a list of theirs and their friends. Ask them if they
have any friends who do anything unusual. Do they know a kid in school who is
the youngest magician champion? Or someone who volunteers at the zoo and cares
for baby birds? Plots and subplots can come from hobbies and
3. Where do they go? Do they enjoy the park, the
pool, the corner pizza place? Are they in the Scouts and go on exciting
backpacking trips? What are some of the vacations youve had as a family? Ask
your kids to tell you places that are memorable, odd, exciting, or creepy. Write
down what their feelings are about the places, what are the senses they
remember, and do they think other kids would enjoy it.
4. What do they like or hate? What are they
afraid of? What makes them squeamish? Kids fears can be put into a story and
given a solution that helps the reader who has the same fear. You can take a
fear and solve it in a new and creative way, such as my story coming out in
Spider about a boy afraid of the dark and finds a creative way to survive a hike
through a cave.
5. What hurts their feelings? Being called names
or teased about something? Being ignored by friends? Left out of activities or
chosen last for a sports team? Youre not trying to use your childrens pain.
But as you are reminded what childrens problems, you can write stories that
will help those going through them to see they arent alone, and hopefully for
the ones causing the problems to see the other side.
6. What do they watch on television? Do they
prefer cartoons or more realistic shows? Do they like humor, fantasy, action, or
animal shows. Take a poll of them and their friends to get an idea of whats
popular. For novels, changes can outdate your book. But a short story that will
be published in a few months can include a kid watching a popular
7. What about music?
8. What makes girls squeal and boys laugh? A
toad hidden in someones burger? What about the things that make girls excited
and boys groan? Makeup, cute boy bands, etc.
9. What do they call their pets? Make a list of
fun pet names. Ask them what their friends have named their pets. Ask them what
the most unusual pet someone they know has? What do they wish they could own?
Let it be fantastical. It could make for a great story.
10. How do they treat and react to their
siblings? You may be used to the friendships and fights, but really pay
attention and watch how they interact. What irritates them about their siblings?
What have they done that is extremely kind and loving? Not only might you have
ideas for kids stories, but think of the essay possibilities for Chicken Soup
and other such books.
Once youve really gotten into your own
childrens world, find ways to watch children in groups. Spend an afternoon
visiting your childs classroom or doing story time at a library or bookstore.
Go where kids hang out and study them. Branch out. Watch the paper for kids
doing amazing things.
Then, you can find the child you once were. Look
through old diaries or journals if you have them. Some problems are universal
and timeless. Remember your own joys and fears, friendships found and lost,
hopes and silly times.
Before long, youll have more ideas than you can
write. And, your writing will be realistic and believable to your audience.
© Copyright 2005, Kathryn Lay
Kathryn Lay is the author of 26 books for children, over 2000 articles, essays and stories for children and adults and the book from AWOC.COM Publishing, The Organized Writer is a Selling Writer. Check out her website at www.kathrynlay.com and email through firstname.lastname@example.org
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