Friday, June 10, 2011

Are You Writing for the Right Age?

At the 2009 Rutgers's conference, our five-on-five panel leader asked us to go around the table and tell everyone two things.  (1) our name  (2) the age we felt inside.

I am clearly a four year old.  A very smart four year old, but a four-year-old nonetheless.   Some of us were 8-9.  Others were 11-12.  But for most of us it was easy to answer.  And THAT is the age you should be writing for.

I have seen lots of people who write picture books who should really be writing chapter books.  At the first page session I attended Sunday, at least two people (out of the half a dozen who attempted PBs)) were told, "This sounds like the first page of a chapter book."

If you've heard this comment about your work more than once, chances are you are writing for the wrong age!

12 comments:

Joanne Fritz said...

Excellent point, Corey! Sometimes I feel like I'm three or four, but other times like I'm 12 inside.

Sounds like you had an interesting first page session.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

That's an interesting exercise.
I'm forever a teenager inside so it's great I'm writing YA, I guess. :)

Diane said...

Cool thing to think about! I have actually written two picture books and one chapter book so I think I am 4-10ish depending on my mood. :O)

Laura Pauling said...

That's so funny. I decided to try YA b/c I got from a lot of people that my MG characters sounded too old. Though I don't fully agree with the blanket statement of what age you feel you should write for. Lots of writers write for more than one age group.

Rebecca said...

I've never thought about this before. How old do I feel on the inside? I don't think I can pin down an age. Sometimes I'm 5. Sometimes I'm 9 or 10. Other times I feel like I'm around 15.

Corey Schwartz said...

Yes, Laura, of course. You're right. But the real point here is... it is much easier to change your target audience than it is to change your inner voice!

storyqueen said...

I write for multiple audiences...so maybe my inner voice has a split personality!!

(Not that unbelievable really...if you know me...)

Very interesting post!

Shelley

Lauren F. Boyd said...

Good tip, Corey!

And how was the weekend conference?

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

What a very interesting thought! So what is a girl to do if she feels 16 but can't figure out how to write over the arc of a chapter book? :) Or what if you sometimes feel 4 and other times 14?

Jean Reidy said...

So true, Corey. The first PB manuscript I wrote won an award at a writer's conference but all the judges told me it should really be the beginning of a MG novel, because I had a MG voice. The suggestion made sense, but while I'd love to write MG, it's my PBs that have sold. Go figure.

Hardygirl said...

Yikes! I'm having trouble answering that one. I think I'm split, too--but I'm definitely NOT an adult!!!

sf

Kristin said...

I just had a PB crit'd saying the subject matter demanded a younger audience, closer to 2-4, instead of 4-8. I'm not 100% sure I agree, but it's something to consider.

Good post, Corey.