Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Perils of Writing for Young Adults

The Harry Potter series demonstrates how writing for young adults can be difficult and yet rewarding. The author has to tread the fine line between scaring the pants off of the reader while keeping them engaged long enough for the story to play itself out. Unfortunately, modern science does not have a specific breed of rat or monkey an author could rent for the “Fingers in the Ears” test. Children between the ages of seven and thirteen are probably the best thing for that. Sadly, since I only have two in that range, I find myself having little guys with fingers firmly planted in ears during the more action packed portions of my readings, but who still hang around for the non-scary parts of the story.

That in itself is evidence I’ve reached the happy mix of vicarious terror and plot engagement I was shooting for in the thirteen to adult crowd. In chase scenes, you want the listener’s legs to pinwheel and churn in sympathy to the protagonist’s plight. You want the reader to cover their ears when you get to the scary parts, but alas, you don’t want them vomiting or wetting the bed after a reading, because frankly, that just isn’t very nice. I am happy to say, neither has happened, yet. My wife would probably have her fingers firmly planted in her ears and be uttering the phonemes “nah, nah, nah” but I’m too cautious to experiment on her, given her delicate sensibilities.

If you have any thirteen to adult listeners who want to be frightened and entertained, I could arrange a reading. Of course, it’s for purely experimental purposes.

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