M.A. Wohl

Writer on a Quest !

When writing for a young audience, grown-up writers have some questions to ask themselves!

On my way home for lunch, I saw a bunch of teenagers, masks on, walking back to school in small groups.

They’re lucky to go to school.

They weren’t sure about that a year ago, when this all started. Now they are.

Tears suddenly tickled my eyes.

Such a small thing, depriving those youngsters of living their dreams of being actors, musicians, scientists, athletes.

The thought occur to me many times before, especially when I stopped being a book clerk specializing in children literature (back then, I was in contact with kids, teachers, librarians (it was so much fun !) and I was able to get a sense of what was going on nowadays), but is now more preponderant: how to stay in touch with your target readers when you’re a grown-up.

Writing for a Young Audience

I almost started this post by « Hello, I’m old! ».

Thing is, 35 to 44 years old people like me are not that old. However, the age thing can become… do I say an issue ? Lacking of a better word, we’ll go with it, dear fellow writers.

When comes the time to write for a younger audience, a grown-up must ask him-her-themselves the question.

A few years back (oh dear, more than FIVE years back, dear fellow writers; time does fly…), I worked as a bookstore clerk – there’s better translation for libraries and it’s a shame.

I was specialized in genre literature for kids and young adults. Pictures books, novels, graphic novels, you name it, I was reading them. I was surrounded by wonderful books, great authors and, most of all, wonderful clients, both young and less young!

As the after-the-bookstores time went by, solely reading kids and young adults books, plus keeping an eye on the ever shifting Book Market, as a reference for my own writing projects, started to felt odd.

After all, those books are mostly written by grown-up’s, and bought by grown-up’s.

What about in-real-life kids and young adults dreams, concerns, voices? What about what they want to read?

Can my own experiences as a child and a teenager can compensate the ever growing gap between my generation and the generations of young readers I wish to make laugh, dream, hope?

Can I steel relate with my target readers?

Which Way ?

NOT the social media way !

Way too noisy, too blurry, too … hum… depressing? Can I say that ? Is it too political? Anyway, it stays, because that’s how I experience it.

Here’s my go-to. Please keep in mind that I’m a francophone living in a French-speaking bubble up North, in Quebec, Canada. Many of those resources are available in French only.

However, since it might help (or inspire!) you, here it goes:

  • Documentaries exploring with kids, tweens, teenagers different topics, from a project to stop a business from destroying natural habitat to how teenagers managed their love life these days
  • Podcast featuring kids, tweens and teenagers voices, such as : Paroles d’ados
  • Recents books written for young readers and published by the publishers I would like to present my manuscript too. (In my small francophone market, no literary agent; authors have to do the submission the (very) old fashion way. There’s other ways, but that’s for another post!).

I tip toe around tv shows, from here but also around the world, but it’s more to get an idea of what works, what I like-dislike story wise.

Over all, it helps me to keep connected to their feelings, and get a better idea of what’s happening in their world, even though it doesn’t come close to being in a bookstore and talking with the young readers, or their teachers.

Soon Enough

Kiddo is growing up. Oh so fast.

Soon enough, I’ll be able to talk with kids and teachers again. Let’s hope I’ll start to feel a little less like a fraud again.

Thank you so so So much, dear fellows writers, to have taken the time to read this post.

May all the good words flow your way !!

2 réflexions sur “Writing for Young Readers: How to Stay in Touch When You’re all Grown-Up (yeah, i know, i don’t know how that happened either)

  1. venessayatch dit :

    Interesting article! how to adopt the language for a children’s book when you are old Like you ? (I’m joking 😁.. ).. i ‘m saying old Like me because !’m an ils woman😁 .My main source of inspiration are my aging children as well. but yes, to stay in touch, I never tought about podcasts and children’s shows. I am in France, and here we do not hear much the voice of the child. that’s why I write my books from their point of view. but indeed I will seek to diversify my different sources of inspiration. Thank you for your post. Venessa Yatch

    J’aime

    1. M. A. dit :

      Thank you so much! I’m very happy this post helped in some way 🙂

      J’aime

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