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Writing Something I’ve Never Tried Before

Today, I wrote the hardest thing I have ever had to write. I wrote a story for a five year old boy, who I have never met, with him as the main character, including knights which I know nothing about.

In all honesty, if I had to write a story for a young girl about faeries, I would have gone to town! But a young boy and knights? That’s an area I just don’t connect with.

This was a request from my best friend. The boy in question is her cousin’s son and it’s his birthday in September. My friend’s a bit skint and asked if I’d write a story for him that she could give as a present. She’s my best friend, of course I said ‘yes’! And it sounded fun at the time! But now I’m staring the story in the face…

Let’s just say I’m writing this blog post faster.

I had no idea where to start. There were so many questions! Things such as ‘What words are too big?’, ‘How long should the story be?’ and ‘How do five year olds think?’ And then I have to decide if it’s okay to have a five year old leave the house in the middle of the night to meet a stranger stood outside (the stranger is a knight and relevant to the story) and whether a five year old boy calls him mum ‘mummy’ or ‘mum’.

I spent some time researching how to write children’s stories online. Of course every website is different and finding advice can be frustrating (I found several websites which were just your basic “how to write” tips but with the word ‘children’ thrown in to make it seem like it was help for writing for a child) but I did manage to put together a rough list of tips to follow:

  • Jump straight into the story
  • Have a clean, solid ending
  • If you use any big words, explain what they mean or don’t use them
  • Tell the story in a linear fashion
  • Remember, this is for a child. Anything goes!

I particularly like the last one. Whereas an adult would question a characters motives and analyse the likelihood of something happen, a child won’t. So, within reason, go nuts! A knight appears on the lawn at night? Awesome! An adult might question why the knight is there or how he got there and whether it was safe to talk to the knight and what would happen afterwards. A child is simply excited and curious and might not care beyond not waking up his mum as he goes downstairs and outside to talk to the new arrival.

All that’s all very well and good, but I’m still struggling. I’m used to writing horror stories aimed at adults, not adventure stories aimed at young kids. Even worse, I want to include the boy’s three year old brother. In an adventure story. Involving knights and a battle. I toyed with the idea of the three year old being kidnapped and being rescued by his older brother but realised that was a bit much for a story for a five year old. I’m determined to get the three year old in the story, though. I refuse to be beaten! Maybe the three year old can protect a mystical gem. Knights like mystical gems, right?

I’ll probably post a copy of the story here for some feedback before I hand it over to my friend. The story may not go beyond her and her family, but it’s important to me that it at least sounds alright.

I started working on the story around 10am this morning. As I post this, it’s now 5:00pm and the story still isn’t anywhere near finished. Luckily, the lad’s birthday isn’t until September 8th.

The websites I found at least partly useful for learning to write for a child:

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