Writing

Kid’s Books

I appreciate a good kids’ book.

I mean, none of my stuff is particularly kid-friendly, not with its heavy focus on sex and drugs and rock and roll, though violence seems to be largely secondary.

I am a pacifist, so that’s not surprising, I suppose, that I’d tend to suppress violence as much as possible, though it certainly can and does add to stories.

Perhaps I’m just not a fan of killing for the sake of killing. Deaths and maiming and all that should have a purpose in literature, rather than being done solely for shock value. I know the early death of a main character, a “loved” character, often sets the tone that anything is possible in a story, but at this point, it’s been pretty overused.

Kids’ books tend to skirt this reality nicely, only letting peripheral characters take the brunt of any real consequences. The trick, and this is where good writers differentiate from average, is to still maintain the possibility of danger and consequences, while not actually applying any to anyone main.

It’s like an A-Team episode from the Eighties. You know beforehand everything is going to be fine, and they’re all going to toast and light a cigar and grin at the end, but somehow, there’s still some level of suspense (well, not really, but a well-crafted book can pull it off).

I’m not like that, unfortunately. I prefer real consequences, not done for shock value, but done because it makes logical sense and because shit happens. Nothing needs to end cleanly or happily.

Kids’ books are impossible for me to write, because too many of the characters are flat, caricatures based on gimmicks that don’t truly suffer beyond some worry and some cheap thrills. My poor children would delve into horrifying existential crises in no time, and end up torturing animals or something.

Good characters, truly good ones, are hard for me, because they seem so naive. They have the innocence of children, and far be it for me to dump all over that.

My concept of a child’s story was an invisible man named Harold that peed on everyone and a finger puppet that threatened to steal you in dead of night.

I want to try out a few genres, for sure, but I’m thinking kids’ lit isn’t one.

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