Please welcome Jean Henry Mead.
Writing for Children and Seniors.
by Jean Henry Mead
My recently published novels include an autobiographical children’s book, Mystery of Spider Mountain, and Murder on the Interstate, the third novel in my Logan & Cafferty mystery/suspense series featuring two sassy, 60-year-old amateur sleuths.
Although I’ve written and published 14 books, the task of writing a children’s mystery was daunting because I didn’t know the language. Watching Saturday morning children’s shows helped and I added a few “hey, dudes,” “sweets” and “bros” to the dialogue. But, because I wanted to write for 9-12 year-olds, I had to do more research, which included taking a course in children’s literature. Middle graders don’t require complicated plots so it’s best to concentrate on one powerful theme in a simple plotline, such as bullying or losing a friend or parent.
Setting is also important. Most middle graders’ lives are centered around school so you have to decide if your plot takes place during those hours or on vacation or after school. When you decide how the problem or action is going to take place, you need to develop a time schedule when events are going to happen. That means outlining, which doesn’t have to be detailed but it should include events that get progressively worse as the plot marches on. Otherwise, you can paint yourself into a corner, which I’ve done in the past. You then need to decide which events are needed to complicate the problem. And, above all, allow the child to solve the problem on her own, with only minimal help from adults, including her parents.
I don’t mean to imply that senior readers are in the same category as children, but a few rules seem to apply as far as sexual content and language. Older women comprise a large percentage of readers and many are turned off by graphic language and sex. Most, according to recent surveys, enjoy reading about people in their own age groups, so I substitute humor and a little romance.
Carolyn Hart, a senior herself, wrote the following blurb for the book:
Careen into crime with two intrepid sleuths who outwit terrorists in a fast-paced plot taken from today's headlines. A page turner.I hope I didn’t leave any of my senior readers so breathless that they needed oxygen.
Thank you Jean!
Jean’s first book was published in 1982. She's since published fourteen novels and nonfiction books. You can also catch her on four different blogs: Mysterious Writers, Writers of the West, Murderous Musings, and Make Mine Mystery. If you’d like to take a look at the trailer for Murder on the Interstate, zip over to You Tube.
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