Misc Notes On WRITING FOR CHILDREN
A friend recently wrote that she’s tried writing stories with morals, but “I have a hard time hiding the pill in the jam.”
Good news! Sort of! Morals are passé. Advice is antiquated. There should be some truth woven in, waiting for readers to glean it for themselves, but stories such as the following are OUT:
As the fire spread, Pete snatched up the ruby necklace and rushed out of the burning building. He raced into the street, but slipped and went sprawling. The necklace flew out of his hand.
It happened to land at the feet on one of the policemen trying to keep order. The policeman picked it up and was going to hand it back, when he recognized it as the necklace reported stolen from Mrs. Van Pelt a month before. He promptly arrested Pete, who was sentenced to five years for theft. Thus Pete found to his dismay that crime does not pay.
Yes, you may think you’ll get away with it, but be very sure, dear reader: “your sin will find you out.”
Another thing that’s out, according to one editor, is that there may be dire consequences to your misbehavior. For example, the main character neglects to feed his pet piranha and it starves to death. (I’d say good riddance.) Not allowed. This editor says children reading this may stuff their poor pets just in case. No, making children feel bad or guilty is pretty much OUT.
Amongst today’s secular editors parental aid, advice, and for sure parental lectures, are OUT. We’re into an age of children learning from the examples of their peers. A writer should show readers how other children face and overcome a problem, then leave them to figure out for themselves how they can apply the same solution in their own lives.
The moral here is: if you’re thinking of writing for children and submitting to standard book & magazine publishers, it pays to learn what current editors consider OUT. Some clearly state in their guidelines that they don’t want any stories with morals.