Thursday, August 25, 2011

Writing for Boys

I woke my kids up for school and as they come stumbling up the stairs I notice my 10 year old has a book in his hand (The Shifter by Janice Hardy). After we get the regular morning stuff done, he sits on the couch and starts to read. What is it that made him read for an hour before school started?

Do you write MG or YA? Do you think about the boys who will read your books? Do you know what they like in a book? Do you know what they hate?

I have access to 2 tween boys—who are avid readers and I thought I would share their minds a bit with you.

Here they are disguised in their Halloween costumes from last year. Napoleon Dynamite is 12 and in 7th grade and Scary Goblin is 10 and in 5th grade.

Me: What is your favorite book series and why?

Napoleon: Pendragon (by D. J. McHale) – It has tons of twists. It has suspense and romance. Action—lots of it. It’s funny and Bobby talks like a teenager.

Scary Goblin: Fablehaven (by Brandon Mull) – because I like the fantasy, adventure and how creative it is.

Me: Why do you stop reading a book?

Napoleon: Well, because things don’t happen as quickly as I think they should. They are boring because nothing happens. There should be at least something cool in every chapter.

Scary Goblin: Sometimes it feels too long, or you are just not into anymore because it is too long.

Me: What will make you stay up late at night reading ?

Napoleon: Probably if it’s good and really awesome. I get worried about the character so I need to know what happens. I’m reading and something pops up and then something else pops up and I need to know how it ends.

Scary Goblin: Sometimes comedy and adventure. I like the plot and the twists and stuff. Sometimes I can’t sleep.

Me: What is a mistake some authors make when writing for boys?

Napoleon: You need to have girls in the story too. Kind of to go along with the main character. Sometimes the book is too slow. I don’t like that.

Scary Goblin: Too much romance and not enough excitement.

Me: (I’m a little unsure what Scary Goblin is reading)

Me: If you could tell authors anything what would say.

Napoleon: There should be a little bit of romance in every book. Someone needs to do some action. Also books need to be a little bit funny. Make the main characters likeable.

Scary Goblin: Put a lot of excitement in your book. And at least one scary guy.

Napoleon: And lots of romance.

Scary Goblin: No, dude. No more romance or kissing.

There you have it (even with the conflicting romance answers :) If you have any questions you are dying to know the answer to, post them in the comments and I will ask my boys.

I’ve always believed love of reading is a matter of exposure. Since my boys were small we’ve read together. Once they were bigger I started to read chapter books to them at night. It took time and many nights I didn’t want to do it, but reading became an activity they looked forward to with anticipation. I figure I’ve read over 40 chapter books to my boys over the last 8 years.

So my advice to parents of boys (and girls)—READ! Expose them to books no matter how old or young they are :)



Cristina said...

this is the best interview EVER!!!!!!!

Mel Fowler said...

That is so cute. seriously!

Also I kind of can't believe that your 12 year old wanted some romance... intersting....

Brinda said...

The "No dude. No more romance or kissing" cracked me up. It's very interesting to know. Is it a matter of taste or age that determines the need for romance. hmm. Hi. I'm a fellow platform-building campaigner. Nice to meet you!

Small Town Shelly Brown said...

Love it! I am very interested in what boys would think of my book. I think it teeters on the line and the more I write the more I push it towards girls.

My nine year old boy likes a LITTLE romance in his books as well. He's a hopeless romantic already. He wouldn't read a kissing book but he does like the 'he likes her' tension.

Angela Felsted said...

I can't wait until my kids actually read of their own accord. Well, I have one that does, but the others not so much.

And if you don't mind my saying, thirteen is really young to write your first book. Wow.

Abby said...

This is awesome! A totally fabulous post that writers everywhere should read! Seriously! There is nothing better than getting into the mind of your audience and I love that its the boys and not just the girls! We need to know about these boys too! Thanks so much for this!

Angie Cothran said...

Christa - Thanks! I'll tell my boys :)

Mel - Deep down I think boys like romance too.

Brinda - I think it might be age. Napoleon is a little ahead of his age group.

Shelly - We will need to keep an eye on our boys when they hit the teen years.

Angela - It is the best feeling to see you kids reading for pleasure.

Abby - I think boys get a bit over looked sometimes. I'm glad you liked the post :)

Christa said...

Your boys are made of awesome! I think my boys would say pretty much the same thing. And yes, I frequently think of boys when I write.

Kim said...

Honestly, I think nothing is more foreign to me than the mind of a boy ... thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

First of all, love the costumes! Second, their answers were precious! ^_^

Thanks for sharing!

The East Coaster said...

Thanks so much for posting their thoughts! Our audience has spoken. Your little men are spot on and they're the ones writers need to be listening to.

CherylAnne Ham said...

Brilliant! Thank you Napoleon and Scary Goblin for sharing your thoughts.

I love, love, love that your son dressed up as Napoleon Dynamite for Halloween. That rocks big time.

Jenny S. Morris said...

LOVE IT. I wonder if Napoleon is a ladies man. He seems to love the romance.

Melanie Jacobson said...

Hello, fellow campaigner. *Waves*

I have a tween boy, too. I'm learning a lot from his reading tastes. He seems to really like his fantasy grounded in the here and now, like Riordan's stuff. It's fun to read with him and see what works for him.

Angie Cothran said...

Christa - They are pretty awesome :)

Kim - You have a boy, they can't be that much of a mystery :)

Liza - They are pretty nutty. You can tell from the costumes and the answers

East Coaster - Amen!

Cheryl - I agree Napoleon Dynamite is a great costume--100% his idea.

Jenny - He certainly thinks he is :)

Melanie - Nice to meet you. My boys love Riordan too :)

Laura Marcella said...

Hi, Angela! I'm writing middle-grade right now and this is SO helpful. The conflicting romance answers were hilarious. Thank you for posting!

Have a great weekend! :)

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