Once Upon a Time

No, I haven’t abandoned this blog. Aside from life happening (I really should write drama, since there seems to be so much of it), I’ve been working on a new ebook. Well, new ebook for the world, but not to the family. This was the first book of a series I wrote for their entertainment. After one last edit, nights spent on cover design, and sanity questioned by making an epub book by hand, it’s almost ready for release. I want to go through it once last time on an actual Kindle ebook reader to look for any quirks and typos, then decide on a release date.

This is a children’s book, for advanced readers in grade range Third through Eighth. That’s how it originally came about. A teacher expressed concern over a student who read way above the class level, but most of the books on their reading level dealt with concept they were not yet ready to handle. Thus came this book, designed with reading aloud two chapters a night in mind, and read that way to family as I wrote it. I had intended it to be a fairy tale, but for some reason magic found no place in it. The results was an adventure set in a medieval kingdom.

Writing children’s book is interesting for someone who tends to have a strong dark and gritty streak. For one thing, all the major violence has to happen off-camera. Easier was the lack of profanity, though for some reason that was labeled “edgy” some years ago. The same for sex. I tend not to put sex in my stories, anyway, but I’m told some bend the no sex rule for upper middle school books. All of this could be subjects in their own right. Yet while an author I respect said that writing children’s books is hard, I didn’t find it that way at all. Well, no harder than writing anything else.

That’s because children like the same sort of things as adults: They want a story where the tale comes first. Message fiction? Children hate it as much as adults. Patronizing? No one likes that. Even the type of story isn’t necessarily different. Just ask any adult who likes the Harry Potter or Narnia series.

What is important are characters that the reader can relate to, which is not the same thing as a character like the reader. Characters must be faced with problems that they themselves resolve. Events in the story must not break the suspension of disbelief. Problems must build to a believable conclusion. In short, the same things people of all ages like in fiction.

I hate to say that’s all there is to it, as it implies that writing good fiction is easy. For most of us it isn’t. Yet when it comes to a “magic” formula for children’s books, it’s a matter of writing as you would for adults, just with no explicit violence, no sex, and watching the language.

Did I manage to pull it off? That remains to be seen. Hopefully I did. But we’ll have to wait until I release the book to know for sure.