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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

HOW TO WRITE FOR CHILDREN






I was sitting alone in the outer terrace of Meilori's and scowling at an email ad for HOW TO WRITE AND SELL CHILDREN'S STORIES.

"How do you make your submission stand out?
How do you write a children's book with commercial appeal? 
How do you decide what category and genre your book belongs in? 
How do you find agents and publishers to submit your manuscript to? 

 Only $199.00 tuition! 

I sighed and started as I felt strong fingers squeeze my shoulder.  I looked up.  The ghost of C S Lewis.



His jovial voice murmured,  

“I don’t write for children,” the ghost of Maurice Sendak once told me.  “I write — and somebody says, ‘That’s for children!’”

C S Lewis carefully packed his pipe with tobacco and sighed, 

" J.R.R. Tolkien as well often told me that there was no such thing as writing for children.  

And his THE HOBBIT has stood the proof of time -- although that horrid porridge of a movie still makes him weep."

Like a wicked child, Mr. Lewis took gleeful delight in shooting sparks from his right forefinger to get his pipe going.

"I think there are three ways in which those who write for children may approach their work; two good ways and one that is generally a bad way."

He shook his head gravely.  

"I read many modern so-called children's books, and it is blatantly obvious the authors are bored to distraction with them but feel the gadgetry of them is what the modern child wants."

Mr. Lewis puffed meditatively, 

"I put into my 'children books. what I would have liked to read when I was a child and what I still like reading now that I am a mature ghost."

He shaped the pipe smoke into Spanish Galleons that sailed majestically away into the darkness. 

 "Take Lewis Carroll and my friend J R R.  

Lewis wrote to a specific child, Alice Liddell and Tolkien wrote to his own children.  And magic was born because the authors loved their audience."

He gazed off into the shadows.  

"The third way, which is the only one I could ever use myself, 

consists in writing a children’s story because a children’s story is the best art-form for something you have to say:

 just as a composer might write a Dead March not because there was a public funeral in view 

but because certain musical ideas that had occurred to him went best into that form."

He blew out clouds of smoke that flowed into wheeling dancing figures.  

"I am almost inclined to set it up as a canon that a children’s story which is enjoyed only by children is a bad children’s story. 

The good ones last. A waltz which you can like only when you are waltzing is a bad waltz."

The smoke dancers became circling vultures as he continued,

 "Critics who treat adult as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. 

To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish;

 these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence." 

He smiled sadly, 

"When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."

His ghost slowly began to fade.

"Everything we put into the world is invariably the sum total of our lived experience and our personhood, and our journey,

 to attempt to sculpt the end result into something different would be not only an act of hypocrisy but also, inevitably, a guarantee of mediocrity."

I was saddened as he disappeared but smiled when invisible fingers once again squeezed my shoulder.  

"Do write more Cub with No Clue stories.  I quite enjoy them."

 ***
For just $5.95   (or $1.99 if you belong to Audible) you can listen to the tales the ghost of C S Lewis enjoyed:

7 comments:

  1. Love this post! What a great idea. I really enjoy the different approach you take with your blog--it's awesome.

    And it's so true. I think many people write children's books because they imagine it will be easy money. Ha!

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    1. No kind of writing is easy money, right? :-)

      It made my morning that you appreciate and like the different tack I take to my blog. I try to create a history, a sense of reality to my haunted jazz club and to the people who frequent it -- hopefully, my visitors will then feel at home when reading my novels which include Meilori's and its owner and his friends. :-)

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    2. It amazes me how each passing generation, seems to disregard History's Lessons, or details. I honor You for carrying forth that Torch, RY.


      Samuel Clemens, meets Edgar Allan Poe, Dickens meets Tolkein. C.S. Lewis meets Alan Watts. D.T. Suzuki meets Gandhi. Jesus Christ meets Gautama. Mr. Roland Yeomans IS the Novel Writer like todays contemporary Twain, and every other person noted herein. Stephen King meets J.K. Rowling. et al. Kudos Roland.

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  2. Harry Potter. Twilight. Um yeah, books written for younger minds definitely have staying power.

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    1. I wonder how much staying power TWILIGHT will eventually have in the years to come?

      I still re-read THE WAR OF THE WORLDS, THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND, GREAT EXPECTATIONS, and TREASURE ISLAND -- when you love your tale it just seems to breathe from the pages.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting, Crystal.

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  3. Writing for an audience you love, in the case of your own kids, seems the best way to do it.

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    1. Doesn't it though? :-) Happy Mid-Week, my friend.

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