Looking for action & adventure?

Looking for action & adventure?

I’m finding an interesting issue with writing kids chapter books. In many ways, I’m writing books with my boys in mind, which is one of the reasons they read my manuscripts as I’m writing them.

Some people are suggesting that my stories need to be more exciting, have more action and adventure in them – good guys and bad guys, things like that. Many of the ideas I’ve come up with are simply gentle stories, there is not a lot of excitement in them, however my kids seem to be enjoying them.

This is where I have a question that I’m hoping my fellow writers can help me answer:

Do books for boys have to be exciting? Do they need action and adventure in them, or will a simply good story be enough?

I don’t know the answer to this question myself, I’m still working on it. I know that some of the books I read as a kid were just good stories, I wouldn’t describe them as action or adventure stories. Then again, these stories were aimed more at girls than boys, so they may not be the best books to judge it by. I’ve started to raid my boys bookshelves to see what they are reading. Many of them I’ve heard of but not read myself, so far, they have quite a bit of action in them.

I’m working on some outlines of some chapter books as well as fleshing them out to actually write them, and would like to hear what other writers think about this. This will help me with these outlines and stories.

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  1. I believe that boys will always love to hear a good plotted story.
    Just think of the classical structure of folk and fairy tales, which have survived for hundreds of years all over the world: there is always adventure involved.

    You can take a look at a page of mine, where I examine the structure of traditional fairy tales according to V. Propp, a Russian folklore researcher of the 20th century. This is a first version of mine, that I will revise, enrich, and re-publish during the month of December — meanwhile, you can browse through it for a few ideas on the subject:


  2. Speaking as a mother of five girls and two boys, I would say my boys definitely gravitate more towards the action books and movies. They get bored easily with the less action packed stories. They want to see heroes and villains with lots of battles and excitement. In truth, they both see themselves in the heroes and love to see the hero prevail against insurmountable odds.

  3. Any good story needs conflict, but I think that boys (and men) gravitate more naturally to external conflict (action, adventure, spy stories), while girls like more internal conflict like relationships issues (home, school, boarding school, summer camp, church).

    This also comes through in the writing – I find books written by men are often lacking in the character development and relationship department. Not always, but often.

  4. As a mum of three boys (8, 7, and 5), I’ve noticed that boys are always looking for some sort of adventure, or quest. They love to explore, solve a mystery, fight something (or each other, lol!), or even rescue something. So there doesn’t necessarily need to be lots of action (although this helps), but it’s good if there is something that needs to be fixed/worked out/solved. Fast pacing is good too, especially in today’s world of computer games and television.
    Hope this helps. Good luck with your writing and publishing journey. 🙂

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