Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Writing Stories Kids Want to Read

Over at Nerdy Book Club, there's a wonderful post this week by the author of the middle grade novel, Malcolm at Midnight:  Why Talking Rats Matter by W. H. Beck.

She wrote about why it's important to her to write stories that encourage kids to wonder, to get them dreaming, or to find a friend. And to write stories that kids want to read so they'll become bettter readers.

"Because the more kids read, the better readers they become. And the better readers they become, the more choices they have in their futures."

Beck's post reminded me that it isn't enough to think about how to create unique characters and plots. Or how to use realistic dialogue to keep the story moving. Or even how to raise the stakes to build tension. Of course, these things are part of writing a novel and they are skills to learn and develop.

But besides all of that, there are the deep-in-my-heart reasons why I'm writing and my hopes for my stories. It's these reasons and hopes that tell me what kinds of stories I really want to write and what kids will want to read.

  • Why do I read? What do I get from a story -- is it just entertainment or something deeper?
  • Why did I read as a child? What kinds of stories did I like and why?
  • What do my children read? What kinds of stories do they like and why?
  • Am I writing what I really want to write?
  • What do I really want my story to be about? Is that what it's about? Why or why not?

The next time I'm struggling over how to put together a scene or what direction to take my story, I'm going to remind myself of the real reasons why I'm sitting in my chair for hours every day, typing on the keyboard.


  1. That's what I do too. It helps when you remember the real reason you're writing (assuming it's not because you think you'll make lots of money at it).

  2. These are wonderful reasons, Andrea. Thanks for laying it out so neatly for us!

  3. I think very few if any books are "JUST entertainment." I always bristle a bit when I hear that phrase. To me, entertainment ends when the book (or movie or whatever) ends. But I think books have impact both large and small that stays with us.

  4. Very good reminders to keep us focused on who we are writing for :)


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