Sunday, March 25, 2018

Crafting Authentic Books for Boys

Today's post is from Darby Karchut, one of the six authors who participated in Write Your Heart Out 2018.  
Each of these talented individuals gave us a taste of the in-depth session they'll be presenting at Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2018: Cindi Madsen, LS Hawker, M.B. Partlow, Kristy Ferrin, Debbie Maxwell Allen, and Darby Karchut.
For those who missed Your Heart Out, today Darby Karchut shares her expertise on Writing for Boys.Darby has a passion and an uncanny ability to get into the heads of middle-school aged boys. Read up here and consider attending her session at Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2018.  You won't regret it.  -Gabrielle V Brown, Managing Editor

For folks who weren’t able to attend the 6th Annual Write Your Heart Out (the Pikes Peak Writers Conference’s sneak preview) on Saturday, March 3rd, I’m pleased to share an overview from my presentation entitled “This One’s for the Boys: Crafting Authentic Books for Boys.”
Based on the stages of their brain development, boys are more likely to:
  • act on impulse
  • misread or misinterpret social cues and emotions
  • engage in dangerous or risky behavior
  • unable to see potential consequences of their actions
  • struggle to modify their dangerous or inappropriate behaviors
  • tend to lag socially behind girls, and not catch up both physically and mentally until the teen years
That said:
  • they are capable of great insight and worldly reflections, mature emotions and mature decision-making, but they cannot sustain it for long periods
  • hence the rollercoaster we often see in older children and teens
  • Children mature differently at this age; okay to write unsophisticated teens
  • But, they all have one foot in childhood and one foot in adulthood, especially in MG and younger teen books
  • Dialogue should reflect this back-and-forth
Think about:
  • Starting your story with a bang (physical or emotional)
  • Throughout the story, ask boy questions:
How do I position myself with others?
How do I become a man?
Whom do I model myself after?
What do I aspire to do and to be?
  • Writing up, not down (honor your reader’s intelligence)
  • Making every character the hero of his own story (even the villain)
  • Using smart humor: body fluids/sounds can only go so far
  • Appealing to your reader’s sense of mischief; make them laugh, especially after an intense scene
Something I noticed:
  • Boys act and talk side-by-side
  • Girls act and talk face-to-face
  • Boys touch each other more than they used to (hands on shoulders, etc.)
What my male students told me:
  • Don’t minimize emotions (boys have them, just express them differently)
  • They are more clued into things than adults give them credit for, but sometimes, they don’t care
  • The boys wondered why book after book have horrible parents, so don’t be afraid to incorporate decent adult figures
Writing for boys—especially our middle school guys—is my passion. Why? I don’t know. It just seems that my world view’s default setting is from the perspective of a twelve year old boy. Does it matter? Nope. Not one bit. I write me. You write you. It’s all good. But I can tell you that boys who read grow up to become men who think and feel. Reason enough.


Darby Karchut is a multi-award winning author, dreamer, and compulsive dawn greeter.  A proud native of New Mexico, she now lives in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, where she runs in blizzards and bikes in lightning storms. When not dodging death by Colorado, Darby is busy at her writing desk. Her books include the best selling middle grade series: THE ADVENTURES OF FINN MacCULLEN. Best thing ever: her YA debut novel, GRIFFIN RISING, has been optioned for film. Her latest book, DEL TORO MOON, releases Fall 2018 from Owl Hollow Press. She is represented by Amanda Rutter at Red Sofa Literary. Visit the author at www.darbykarchut.com

SaveSaveSaveSave