This year I have been working on upping my reading game. I want to read more widely and I want to read more frequently. I’m already ahead on my #2018GoodreadsChallenge so things are going well so far!
Knowing that my #NaNoWriMo story is aimed at 9-12 year olds, I decided it would be good to read more for those age groups. Having taught books like ‘Holes’, ‘Boy Overboard’ and ‘Feather Boy’ in the past, I do have some fairly recent experience of that age range. I also have specific children in mind when I am writing. I thought therefore that I knew what I was doing, but still, more current research couldn’t hurt.
Over the past few weeks I have been listening to ‘His Dark Materials’ and reading ‘Murder Most Unladylike’. These books have taken wildly different approaches to writing for children. Both feature characters of roughly the same age as my main character so have been helpful to me in figuring out where I want to go.
The language used within the stories is a good example of how the books are different, although that is not to say that one is better or worse than the other. ‘His Dark Materials’ is written in the third person and uses figurative language repeatedly. ‘Murder Most Unladylike’ is written in the first person and therefore as though written by a child. While I am still enjoying the story, it isn’t something that I would have been able to teach in school. There is little to no need for inference and for the year groups I taught I needed that extra depth of language.
One of my original motivators was writing something that I would be able to teach. If I want to stick with this (which I currently do), I need to write a little bit ‘older’ than the style of ‘Murder Most Unladylike.’ However, I think my current story would suit that style. Maybe I need to rethink my priorities.
‘His Dark Materials’ has reminded me that I love dystopian fiction (not that I would class that as such but stay with me). I want to create world different from our own that allows me to explore an element of humanity/society. That isn’t the story I started in NaNoWriMo, but the sketchy notes in my notebook say a story is brewing!
Also posted on PhiliBWriting.