Recently, my twelve year old daughters read the entire Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan. A movie based on the first book, The Lightning Thief, is due out next year and since I have an interest in writing for the target age group, I figured I’d give the books a spin. If you’re not familiar with the series, it’s based on the premise that the Greek gods are alive and well and producing children in the modern world. These kids, much like the demi-god offspring in the classic myths, take on adventures and quests, while still trying to be, well, kids.
Over the course of the two books I have read so far, I have noticed some things that may help me in my own writing for this age group:
1. Stick with the main storyline
Written as a first person narrative, the books laser in on the main character and don’t provide many details about those things that didn’t happen in his presence. They don’t get bogged down in a “tell me what happened” mode. “Show don’t tell”, is followed to a honed edge here.
2. Core characters
The stories so far have revolved around the three core characters. Much like the core group of friends that you had in Junior High, they do everything together. This gives a consistent feel as the series progresses.
3. Growth and change in moderation
Based in mythic structure, the books definitely feature elements of the hero’s journey. However, it’s a tempered sort of growth that doesn’t push wild swings of change.