Children's writing

Trends Schmends

Conventional wisdom says that we can’t write to trends. Unless you are a celebrity or live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, publishing is a slow business. Vampires are hot subjects right now, but by the time I write a story about them, pitch it, sell it (not to be presumptuous or anything), and the publisher publishes it…well, the vampires have moved on, not to mention the subsequent trends of talking sandwiches, dinosaurs with eating disorders, and an alien fashion line that controls and sometimes consumes humans.

Yet just this week I read advice from an editor suggesting we do this: write about vampires. Yeesh! Clearly, she was under pressure to define the kind of stories she wants to receive in submissions.

2008-bookmarks-19.jpgThis is a class that received bookmarks from Nordic Needle after the Needle and Thread: Stitching for Literacy 2008 Bookmark Challenge. It warms me from my normally frozen toes to the top of my disheveled head. Yay, Nordic Needle! Yay, stitchers!

Likewise, a newsletter I received this month urges children’s writers to write from a single point-of-view (POV). First person is The Thing in YA lit, but even when writing in the third person, we are advised to limit the view to a single POV character. The purpose is so that readers can better identify with the main character.

To some extent, I consider this a trend, albeit a long-lived trend, but it seems to be a US trend. I have recently read or listened to stories by Cornelia Funke (Germany), Philip Pullman (UK, Zimbabwe, Australia), and Jenny Nimmo (UK). They are all authors of hugely popular books, and none (that I have read recently) are written from a single POV. Here is proof that readers do not need a single POV to relate to a character or like a story. So why are we constantly being advised to use a limited POV?

Are US children’s lit editors limiting US children’s authors by holding to trends themselves?

Well, trends-schmends. I like multi-POV stories, reading them and writing them. And I’m way ahead of that talking sandwiches trend; trust me, it’s going to be Big. You heard it here first.

Categories: Children's writing