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Creating ‘Child Eye’s View’ when writing for young people

Young people don’t just come under the heading of one audience. There are so many different ages and stages of learning and development (emotional as well as mental) in a young person’s life. To be able to write effectively for young people, we need lots of different “eye views” to cover all this. The best writing for young people is where the voice comes through clearly and honestly, where the child’s viewpoint rings true. The worst may be writing that’s very competent linguistically, but ultimately pitches itself wrong – writing that doesn’t ring true in it’s voice and, worst of all, appears patronizing!

Writing for any audience is about respecting that audience.  You wouldn’t write a crime book without considering the conventions and the right viewpoint for this. What makes it even more tricky when writing for young people is that, for the most part, only adults write books – there is a gap between the child reader and the adult author’s experience. The writer’s job is to close this gap.

From my experience of writing young people’s fiction and of teaching Writing for Young People for many years, the easiest way to close this gap is to get as near as possible to a point of view that the young person will recognize – your ‘child’s eye view’. I cannot stress enough that this is the most basic need for all young people’s fiction, perhaps even the only need. This becomes even more important when we consider that young people’s fiction usually just has one strong point of view throughout; one main character and one main set of thoughts. This means that a central voice becomes very powerful – readers will often become that central voice.

But how do we find our child’s eye view? See my related exercises, the link is on the right hand side of the page.

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Using an object to tell a story

The aim of this exercise is to use the power of objects or images to help to illustrate…

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Structuring a story

Choose a very famous person, someone whose life-story you know well (e.g. the Queen, Hitler, John Lennon). Imagine…

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Getting started. The first paragraph.

The opening lines of a book set the tone for everything that is to follow. The tense. The…

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Write from experience

The musician Lou Reed (The Velvet Underground) said of his song, Heroin, ‘I wanted to write something that could…

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Starting to write

Have your clothes ready at the end of your bed for the next day. Do not waste a second…

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The power of objects

Objects have immense power to help us to tell stories. I have found that an entire storyline can…

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