BY JON KENNA
Over the last few months I’ve been trying to write stories for kids. In the past I’ve written a couple of books for adults which were fun to write but also a hard slog at times. I was thinking that writing children’s stories would be an easier ride. Nope.
I decided to write stories rather than a novel. I wanted to do a series of stories about a number of regular characters. I thought it would be good if they fitted together in a similar way that episodes in a television series do; separate stories fitting together into an overall story arc. I remember reading Enid Blyton stories as a kid especially the Brer Rabbit and Amelia Jane stories. In these, there was a limited number of characters inhabiting a particular environment, e.g. animals in the countryside, toys in a nursery etc.
So far I’ve written five or six stories about a character called Susan who is a seven year old girl, and a more enigmatic character called Mr. Sixty. The regular characters are Susan’s mum and dad and various other people such as Susan’s school teachers and friends. The characters live in a small seaside town.
As I wrote each one I started off feeling really pleased but I then read them aloud to my seven year old daughter and, although she liked them from the start, I noticed several parts that didn’t work. The main problem with those sections was that they were either too rambly or too description-heavy. I realised that children’s stories need to be lean; there’s absolutely no room for flab. There must be not one word there which is not essential. If the writer rambles on about how pretty the sea looks then he or she has lost the reader. The only things you need are character and story. That’s it. All the rest of the stuff, the bits which show what a clever writer you are, go out of the window.
This is undoubtedly the hardest writing I have ever done. I still lack confidence when doing this kind of writing and so I wondered whether I dared to publish one of the stories here on my blog so that I could get the views of all those who read it. If I do, would you be prepared to give me your opinion, either as a comment here or as a message to my email address? I’d be really grateful. I may post the first story of the series here so you can read it and then give me feedback. What do you think? My email is firstname.lastname@example.org