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14

It seems to be something which has fallen out of practice, but many fairy tales were originally written with horrible gruesome endings, mainly in order to scare children into good behavior. The original The Little Mermaid, for instance, would have emphasized the importance of being an obedient daughter and not accepting favors from shady characters. Several ...


7

According to Colleen Lindsay (former agent), a middle grade novel has on average 35K words. http://theswivet.blogspot.com/2008/03/on-word-counts-and-novel-length.html


5

Contractions are fine in narration. As with other aspects of the narrator's diction and voice, the use or avoidance of contractions helps characterize the narrator, and indicates something about the formality/informality of the story.


4

mootinator makes a good point. But I can imagine a public that, while not interested in unfortunate endings per sé, might be interested in "neutral" endings, namely the skeptic community. Real life is not supposed to suck, neither is it supposed to be good to us, it's rather "indifferent" to our fortunes, although the word "indifferent" is a bit too ...


4

I see two separate paths you can take: 1) You might have to back up and set down some rules for the writing before developing rules for the judging. For example, if one of your judging rules is "The story must have a beginning, middle, and end," but someone submits an amazing in medias res piece, is that going to be penalized for not meeting an arbitrary ...


4

Many of the original Grimm and Andersen fairytales had tragic elements in their endings. The Little Mermaid got legs, but every step felt like walking on broken glass, and she doesn't win the prince; she dissolves into seafoam and bubbles without ever getting her voice back. Cinderella's stepsisters cut off parts of their feet to fit the glass slipper, and ...


3

I read aloud to my children regularly, and, knowing nothing about the book other than it had won a Newbery Medal, I naively picked up Bridge to Terabithia for our nightly read-alouds. If you're not familiar with the book, it has, shall we say, a very tragic plot twist. Years later, when a movie based on the book was released, I remember reading a lot of ...


3

I don't think you will find any tragedy for children found acceptable in these times. Grimm and Andersen got "grandfathered in" for being classics, even though they were rewritten in more "acceptable" forms for wide public. Currently though, when Uncle Tom's Cabin is found racist for using real language of times it describes, when Harry Potter is bashed for ...


3

It's their cover and their interior. Naturally they would copyright those. If the rights to your book ever revert to you, you can publish it with whatever cover and interior you can get the rights to.


3

I can't give you the advice you want, but I will give your advice you need: The books you need to read are models, not how-to guides. Count me among those who, unlike the many you mention, do not highly regard any book that markets itself 'for dummies'. More specifically, the industry of teaching people how to write creative works is a parasitic and ...


2

I think for a writing competition, you need a theme or focus, and maybe - for that age - some guidelines. Are you after an imaginative story, or a factual-type report of a fictional situation, or is there a setting it should take place in? You then have something against which you can judge them subjectively, as to how well they have interpreted the brief, ...


2

Don't worry about it. Just balance out the darkness with some charm. If the young reader loves your characters and enjoys the tale, he or she will put up with anything. Look at J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. Those are grim, grim books. Death is a prevalent theme from the outset. Fully one third of the books is about someone's dead parents, or how ...


2

In addition to academic knowledge about child development, there's nothing like experiencing real children and seeing how they respond to books. If you don't have young children in your life, I'd suggest "borrowing" some who are within your target age-range and willing to help. See if they understand your story (ask them to explain it-- they may have reached ...


2

Your question relates to the developmental psychology of children more than their capacity to decode text. As such it has very little to do with chronological age because there is so much variation across individuals. Even though publishers (or booksellers) may want to use labels such as 5-7 year-olds, these are essentially meaningless. The issue is not ...


2

This page seems to suggest that books that teach contractions target children between the ages of 4-8, so it would depend on what age children you're targeting, it could be that the average 4 year old might not understand contractions however I would very surprised if an average 8 year old didn't understand them. Otherwise, they're proper grammar so if you ...


2

If you are writing in first person, the language used needs to be roughly mainstream consistent with the age, location, etc. of the narrative character. If the two are hugely out-of-sync, it can cause a lot of discord while being read because the "person" that is speaking is saying things and using words that are out of character, thus unexpected and often ...


2

You are on the right track. Your topic sounds promising, giving a starting sentence and a picture should help inexperienced (teenage) writers to start writing at least something. But to avoid writers block, you should give them a little choice (not too much, because that blocking again). If you give them three different topics, or three different pictures, ...


1

You've made the same mistake I did. You've picked up a book and realised that it has 500+ pages of text, you've started writing and got to the end and realised you're 475 shy of writing the next epic novel. You're approaching the task backwards and there are a few things to realise very early on. A good story starts and ends when it should. How many films ...


1

The only "horror", or rather horror invoking, stories I know that are regularly told to children are fairy tales. But we all know that they were originally intended for an adult audience. Childrens tales today, if they deal with subjects that are elements of adult horror stories, such as ghosts, vampires etc., are usually told in a light and humorous tone ...


1

God save the next generation from adults who don’t want children to feel sad, ever, for any reason (except perhaps for failing to follow the advice of their elders). If I ever write a story that makes children cry the way that Bridge to Terabithia made me cry, I will feel like I’ve accomplished something. There is a series of DVDs on paleontology ...


1

A classic one can be for example the Spanish "Lazarillo de Tormes", I am not really sure if it is adapted, but it is really important in my country: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lazarillo_de_Tormes Then a modern one can be "The boy in the striped pyjamas", the main idea of the plot is different, but you can feel how the boy suffers: ...


1

An additional consideration may be whether you want your children's story to be stocked in school libraries. A colleague wrote a piece of Young Adult Fiction intended to encourage reluctant readers but found it was rejected by schools because of "the awful grammar"! It was not considered to be a redeeming feature that the main character's expression ...


1

The word count does not matter until it is good enough to engross the children into it and that the story is a right mix of its own ingredients makes it worth a read. Just research a bit with your neighborhood kids, or relatives having kids of that particular age group. If you have good network of friends, you might come up with helping hands for your ...


1

Children have quite astonishing powers of linguistic acquisition - in other circumstances your son could be equally fluent in two or even three languages. Bear in mind this is your son, so you are a major source of his exposure to language, particularly in these very early years. To a considerable extent, you determine what level of language he becomes ...


1

One approach would be to record your story-telling sessions, particularly in a way that captures his reactions. You could then review those recordings to see what worked and what didn't (e.g. you had to repeat something in a different way). Reading comprehension is different from aural comprehension, but at least you know he'll know the words in one ...


1

Don't mistake "a happy ending" with "defeated the monster". Fairy stories of old had several goals, one of which was to show children that the monster can be dealt with. Note that that does not mean everything will turn out alright. Sometimes it's a choice between two terrible things, one of which is worse than the other. Modern fantasy works are spiritual ...


1

It's important to keep in mind that children learn to read at slightly different ages and that reading comprehension/ability can vary greatly even among kids the same age. There could be some who are ready to read Harry Potter by themselves starting in first grade (6-7 years old) while their classmates could just be starting to make the shift to easy chapter ...


1

It also depends on the target age group. Conventional wisdom indicates that older children - say, preteens - can handle more complex and negative stories than small children. Hence why you get the newbery medal syndrome where the dog always dies at the end to teach children about death and moving on from tragedy.



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