Friday 30 March 2012

Writing for Children in Today's Society & Keeping Them Hooked! - guest post by published chapter book author Martin King

There’s been a big hoo-hah in the press just recently over violent video games having a damaging effect on primary school children. It’s been claimed that many are staying up beyond midnight whilst playing games unsupervised by their parents.

Now while I’m not here to express my opinion on what is, or is not right for children of that age, one fact is clear, books are fast in danger of becoming a thing of the past. They simply cannot compete. Not only are games pushing the boundaries of adrenalin fuelled action, but everything else available to a child is raising the bar.
Mobile phones that have metamorphosis into smart phones (now known as mobile devices), use of internet, and handy tablets like iPad’s are just a few of those items. Then there’s 24 hour TV with 100’s of channels, catch up on demand and memory hard drives to store all your favourites on. Not to mention HDTV, 3D, Blu ray, bigger and more spectacular special effects in movies. Dare I go on...?
And what have publishers done with books in all of this time? Absolutely nothing!
But have no fear because schools are fighting back with reading schemes. Children are encouraged to take nominated books home, read them and write a review. But what happens if a child is given a book they don’t like? They still have to read it because it is part of their lesson. One forced book that a child does not want to read can destroy a life time of reading.
This post is not about the rights and wrongs of what should or should not be undertaken. It is merely pointing out the challenges facing young readers today. As an author, I felt it was my duty to do everything within my writing power to bring back the readability factor into a story, the fun into the novel, the excitement into the adventure.
So that is exactly what I set out to achieve. I asked myself as I put some of the finishing touches to the first Jack Hunter novel, if I was a child today, would I want to sacrifice many of the above time wasting activities for my book? As well as a child friendly story with villains and clues, twists and mystery, I wove a game into the pages. Not only that, but I made the book interactive with the internet. What I tried to do was give a young modern-day reader a fighting chance of living their adventure in the pages of a book just like I did when I was young.
Who should you write for?
When writing your book, try and look at life through the eyes when you were a child. Every word and sentence you craft should steal away a child’s imagination. When you walk along the pavement, you walk with a purpose, serious and determined – you have a deadline.
Now picture yourself walking that same journey as a child? You jump up and run along the wall, swing around the lamppost, skip up and down the kerb and weave in and out of passengers. You may even pluck leaves and flower heads off a shrub overhanging from a garden, or pick up a stick and rattle it along a fence. That is how you should write...
Why write?
Not to be rich...wrong answer, now go to the back of the class! For the audience, for the passion and for fun!
When to write?
Write every single day!

Martin King

Martin King is a UK-based author of Jack Hunter - Secret of the King and has a website for children.
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