These two pieces by Eugie Foster (here and here) which together spell out the Ten Myths about Writing for Kids confirmed my thinking about Joanne Rowling and Stephenie Meyer in two respects: (1) neither set out to write for children and (2) thinking of them as ‘kid lit’ authors is so far off base as to seem bizarre. None of the myths the estimable Ms. Foster discusses could possibly have been on Ms. Rowling’s or Mrs. Meyer’s mind when they set out. Here is the list of ten myths; check out the articles linked above for the excellent discussion —
By Eugie Foster
There are a lot of misconceptions about writing for children, some amusing and some surprising. In order to create appealing works for both young readers and editors, writers need to be able to separate truth from fiction. Here’s a top ten list of some of the most prevalent myths:
1. Children’s literature must be cutesy, and you shouldn’t use hard words.
2. All stories for children should have a moral or teach a lesson.
3. A kid’s story can’t have serious, weighty, or controversial subject matter; children have delicate sensibilities and must be protected from the scary world.
4. When things get too hairy, it’s okay for my main character to get rescued by their parents/teachers/other adult.
5. Kids, editors, and the publishing industry love cute, talking animals.
6. A kid’s story must always have a little kid in it.
7. I should make my children’s story rhyme.
8. I must illustrate/get an illustrator for my picture book manuscript.
9. I’m a parent, so I know how to write for kids.
10. Writing for kids is easy and a good way to get rich quick.
Eugie Foster calls home a mildly haunted, fey-infested house in Metro Atlanta that she shares with her husband, Matthew, and her pet skunk, Hobkin. Her fiction has been translated into Greek, Hungarian, Polish, and French, received the Phobos Award, and been nominated for the British Fantasy, Bram Stoker, and Pushcart awards. She has sold a dozen stories to the Cricket Magazine Group, including Spider, Cricket and Cicada, as well as to an assortment of other publications for young readers including Story Station, Shiny, and the young adult anthology Magic in the Mirrorstone (Mirrorstone Books). She holds an M.A. in developmental psychology, has co-authored a textbook on child development, and is a frequent speaker at Dragon*Con’s Young Adult Literature Track. She also pens a monthly column, Writing for Young Readers, and is the managing editor of Tangent. Visit her online at www.eugiefoster.com.