A Nice Clean Story

I write nice clean stories.  There is no gratuitous violence, no swearing and no (gasp!) sex.  My stories are directed at young readers aged about 8 to 12 years. My characters are ordinary kids. They have no special powers. They are not dealing with any fantasy creatures or beings. All they have to work with is their powers of observation, wits and innate curiosity.

Now, I guess it is old-fashioned of me to be determined to keep my stories clean. There are several people who keep saying to me that the kids of today don’t want to read about ordinary kids, that they want to read about mystic fantastic realms where demons, witches and warlocks rule and that, if I want to be successful as an author, I will need to write about those things.

I have no problem with the authors who write in the fantasy genre.  I enjoyed the Harry Potter stories too but I read them as an adult not as a child. However, I do believe in the ordinary kid who can struggle with a difficult situation and find a way through it without benefit of a magic wand.

When I was a kid, about a hundred years ago, I wanted to be one of the Famous Five or Nancy Drew’s offsider.  I wanted to have adventures and to have to solve mysteries.  I did like the story to be puzzling and exciting,  but I didn’t want to have the socks scared off me.  It makes me wonder if today’s kids are really so much different.

I have written before about the downturn in imagination in today’s children.  It is something that really worries me.  It worries me that children can’t think of anything to play unless they have equipment of some sort. It worries me that they can’t come up with any ideas when they are asked to write a story….no matter how much scaffolding is provided for them.  It worries me that they don’t know how to build a cubby house using cardboard boxes and tree branches.  It worries me that they have little in the way of risk assessment skills.  I think children need to be able to do all these things if they are to grow into adults who can cope with the everyday world.

We rarely have to face a wand-wielding wizard but we often have to solve problems using whatever wits we have been given.

So I will continue to write nice, clean stories about ordinary kids in the fond hope that there are parents out there who want their children to be inquisitive, observant and adventurous too.

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2 thoughts on “A Nice Clean Story

  1. I’ve recently had quite a few chats with the children I teach about the books they like. In a break at band practice (which I run for 8 to 11 year olds) the conversation turned to books and they persuaded me to read the Angie Sage books about Septimus Heap, which I promised to do. As you probably know they are a fantasy series about a boy wizard, and some weeks later when I’d read them, the discussion turned to other books they like to read. I fully expected them to add other fantasy books to the list but I was pleasantly surprised to find that their preferred reading was when the main character (boy or girl) was a normal child like them who had an adventure. The reason for this it seems, is that they can imagine themselves in the lead role and according to them that’s much better than a world which doesn’t really exist. Despite what the press would like us to believe, these children are avid readers and could hold an informed discussion about the authors they knew. And they knew what they liked – a world they could relate to where the main character was about their age, had to go to school etc. and who had some sort of a believable adventure.

    1. Hi Eileen,
      That is very reassuring. I talk with the children I work with at a tutoring centre and they come up with a fine list of fantasy books that they have read. When I ask them what they like to read about their answers are similar to those of your students…real kids, adventures that they could possibly have themselves etc. I wonder whether the publishing houses in their infinite wisdom follow the movie makers or whether it is the other way around.
      Thank you for visiting.

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