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The Art of Story Writing : CHAPTER VII Stories for Children

by Nathaniel C. Fowler, JR   

CHAPTER VII Stories for Children

THERE is an increasing demand for children's stories, stories for children to read or to have read to them.

Because it is so difficult to write this class of literature, there is comparatively little of it on the market; and there is, perhaps, more opportunity in this direction than in any other. Bear in mind, however, that it is more difficult to write an acceptable children's story, than it is to produce almost anything else in the line of story writing.

It is easier for the educated person to use big words than to practice simplicity, and simplicity is all important in stories for children.

No one has ever produced a second " Robinson Crusoe." This book stands, to-day, as the greatest story ever written for children and young people. Every word is simple, every sentence can be understood.

The experienced writer, particularly if he be well-educated, and associates with literary men, has an almost unquenchable tendency to produce a style which certainly does not represent simplicity. He uses long words and complex sentences. His meaning is not always easily understood; his situations are sometimes difficult to comprehend; his descriptions are often hard to grasp. Therefore, he cannot produce a story which will interest children, and if he attempts to do so, his failure is assured.

The successful writer of stories for children lays his plot close to the home. His incidents are homemade; and unless his story is one of travel, he does not often remove his characters beyond the town they live in.

His dialogues and conversations are simple and natural; his characters are those which the children understand, because they live with them or have seen them. He does not take anything for granted, and all that he writes is self-explanatory, or he explains it in the simplest words.

Nearly every newspaper either maintains a children's department or frequently runs stories or anecdotes for children; and the call for this sort of matter is increasing. Book publishers are looking for manuscripts of good stories for children, and many magazines carry them.

Do not attempt to produce this class of story unless you KNOW children. It is, however, admitted that the bearing of children is not essential to the production of child lore or story. Many of the ablest writers, as well as many of the most efficient keepers of homes for children, are neither mothers nor wives; in fact, experience would seem to indicate that motherhood is not always conducive to the wisest practice of child-care. The maiden, who is without the bias of motherhood, and may see with wider vision and write with broader pen, often understands the child-problem better than does she, who, because she is a mother, cannot as readily differentiate between mother-love and mother-duty.

Speaking of simplicity, it should be cultivated by writers of every kind of literature.

The best stories are simple; the best writers, those who live, did not spill the dictionary over their pages. Although their plots may be complicated and mysterious, and they may handle weighty subjects, their pen- and word-pictures approach simplicity, for they have kneaded clearness with complexity until the whole lump is leavened with digestible simplicity.