Writing Season 2 Episode 2: How to Write for Children with Brandon Mull

Kids these days with their long hair and their love of reading. It’s like, get off my lawn, am I right? But in other news, kids (meaning anything from chapter books to mature YA) read a TON, and somebody has to write those books, and it might as well be you. Learn how to write for children with the Writing Excuses team and special guest star Brandon Mull, author of the wildly successful Fablehaven series.

Brandon Mull’s website

This week Writing Excuses is brought to you by the Writing Excuses Season One Collection on CD.


16 thoughts on “Writing Season 2 Episode 2: How to Write for Children with Brandon Mull”

  1. I know several thirteen-year-old kids with HUGE crushes on Brandon Mull. :) And I love Fablehaven and Candy Shop War. What a great guest! Can’t wait to listen.

  2. You guys are timely. Just this week, I decided to try my hand at young-adult—and already you’ve put up a podcast. You must have read my mind. The concept is very dark, and I was curious as to what content I should include in the final manuscript. It looks like I’m leaving it in and shooting for the older Y/A audience.

  3. you forgot to mention that if you rope in the kids at a young age, you can potentially keep them reading your older audience books and squeeze more money out of them…

  4. Haha, right. ‘Cuz that’s what we writers are all about, squeezing dollars out of the young and corruptible in society…

    …Wait, did I say that out loud?

    Actually, Sanderson makes a really interesting point about genre-busting. Hmm.

  5. Yeah, the allowance for crazy genre-busting in children’s literature is a major draw for me. I also love what they say about not dumbing down for younger readers. I read all kinds of deep stuff as a child, and while I didn’t get every metaphor, I still loved the stories and characters. Going back and reading some of my favorite childhood books is cool, too.

    Great podcast this week, guys. I’ve been in something of a slump lately, but this has motivated me to get my rear in gear and get writing.

  6. I’ve been reading a lot of YA/middle grade the last few months–Fablehaven, Septimus Heap, Leven Thumps, Artemis Fowl, and others–with an eye towards trying to angle one of my own projects towards that market. I was surprised by how sophisitcated the stories actually were. I had assumed there would be dumbing down and was pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn’t necessary at all.

  7. I hadn’t really thought about the importance of the romance element in YA. But it makes sense. I also don’t try to write YA, or I haven’t yet, so I haven’t had to think about it too hard.

    It does makes sense that Stephanie Meyer focused so heavily on those aspects. I just sort of thought she likes writing a romance crossed with spec fic hybrid genre, which I’m sure she does, but it was also very smart of her.

    It actually makes me wonder how JK Rowling got away with it. I know those books were children’s books originally, not YA. But when the smaller kids that first started reading them grew up a bit, they kept their interest up, despite the very subtle, slow moving pace of the various romance stories. The volumes of slash fan fic on Harry Potter fan sites is sort of strong evidence of how deeply the fans were dying for this stuff to play out some more.

    There are some resolved romances at the end of the books, but their development is probably the weakest point of that whole series. I wonder if they would have been even more popular had that been a bigger focus?

  8. I think a really good way to write for middle-graders, kids, and Y/A is to think in terms of themes and objects lessons. Your main character is on a quest to acheive something and learn something in the end, which ultimately ends up being the theme of the book.
    In the middle grade book I’m working on, I don’t foresee much violence happening, but I have a goal of what I want my protagonist to learn and how I want him to grow as a person. I think this is a useful way to give yourself a path as well as a focus that can connect to the audience.

  9. Dan, the fairy book you’re referring to is by Gail Carson Levine, who won a Newbery Honor for Ella Enchanted–so it’s not just “some dumb Disney book.” She’s an excellent writer. Not sure what motivated her to team up with Disney, but given that she’s been writing fairy tale retellings for years, it seems an interesting match-up.

    (I’m finally catching up on the fall’s podcasts….)

  10. As an aspiring YA writer, I really enjoyed this one…right up to the point when Howard basically called anyone who believes in global warming a kid, which was also the point I clicked it off. At least I got to listen to most of the podcast, though.

  11. Great cast, hope ‘The Other Brandon’ features again.

    @RGame, not sure about your interpretation of Howard’s comment.

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