Wednesday, March 14, 2012

How to Write for Adults by De Kenyon

A lot of kids and teens simply don't know how to write for adults, and I'd like to give you a little bit of perspective (being, technically speaking, an adult) so that you, too, can learn how to write stories that even adults can read with pleasure.

However, first I'd like to take a minute to clarify a point that I've often heard discussed:  picking out books for the adults in your life.  Often times, when left to make their own choices, adults will pick out inappropriate books for their age range.  I don't mean that they'll read kids' and Young Adult (YA) books, which are perfectly fine for the most part, if perhaps a little more sophisticated than what they're use to reading.  I mean that adults will read books that are:

  • Dull.
  • Depressing.
  • And worst, teach adults that there's no fun or excitement to life any more.

Also, please keep in mind that adults especially shouldn't be reading books that are about death and getting old; it's too much for them to handle.  When you're picking out books for them, make sure there's lots of adventure and excitement, because who wants depressed adults around?  Violence, romance, humor, bravery, and getting in trouble are usually signs of a good book, even for adults.  Remember, if they find the words too hard, you can always show them how to use the dictionary, which they did have to use as kids but have probably forgotten how to use by now.

But how to write for adults?

The main thing, when writing for adults, is not to talk down to them.  It may seem like the adults in your life, while loveable, have a hard time understanding a lot of things.  Keep in mind that it isn't because they aren't intelligent, but that, having been grownups for some time, they have forgotten what real life is like.

For example, they may have forgotten:

  • What it's like to read a certain type story for the first time.  ("I've seen it all before," they say.)
  • What it's like to read a story...at all (adults do tend to work too much and watch too much TV).
  • How to play and daydream.
  • What real monsters are like, and how they exploit the rules to their advantage.
  • That things you do in your imagination are not necessarily the things you would do in real life...but that you wish you could.

Please, try not to roll your eyes every time they say, "But it's just a story."  They don't mean to be rude.

So when you're writing a story for adults, just tell the story.  Don't explain too much; don't treat them like they're stupid; don't try to convince them that their lives would be better if only they didn't try to make everything so dull and take on so much responsibility.  This is called "preaching," and adults really can tell when you're doing it. 

The best tactic to take is to imagine adult characters (because most adults want to read about adults) responding to the danger that you put them in as realistically as possible, and not worry about trying to convince them to stop being so boring.  Write a good story, and the adults who still like to read will have fun reading it, and really, getting adults to read anything is half the battle.  And I have to say that the best part of writing books for adults is having one who doesn't like to read come up to you and say, "I really enjoyed your book, and in fact it inspired me to read more books."  It can be done.

And last but not least, if any adults tell you that they, too, want to be writers, never discourage them or tell them that they simply aren't playful enough to handle it.  Writing is an excellent exercise for their imaginations, and soon you may see that they aren't just writing stories, but daydreaming and perhaps even playing pretend with the children in their lives, and there's nothing better than that.

About the Writer:  De Kenyon is the pseudonym (aka secret identity) of adult writer DeAnna Knippling.  She has a daughter, Rachael, who inspires her every day to try new things, talk to new people, and have imaginary adventures.  De's new kid series, The Exotics, features Rachael (by her request) and includes adventure, spies, magic, and even a few semi-interesting adult characters (one of them has a fake eye).  You can find Book 1 of The Exotics at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, or other online bookstores.  De blogs at www.DeKenyon.com and tweets at @writerde.