Part II of “How to Lose an Editor in Ten Ways” HOW TO MESS UP YOUR CHARACTERS

Welcome to part 2 of my blog series. (Click here if you missed PART I: SKIP THIS STEP) Let’s delve into a couple more ways you can lose an editor. Incorporating some of these flaws into your characters will almost always guarantee a rejection. Here’s how:

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Way 2: Make Your Characters the Wrong Age

Create characters younger than your reading audience. Why? Because kids do not enjoy reading about characters younger than themselves, according to Keys for Kids Editor Courtney Lasater. And if kids won’t read it, then there’s no point in the editor publishing it.

“Kids want to read about characters their age or slightly older,” said Lasater. “So, characters’ dialogue and behavior should reflect the upper half of the age range of the publication’s target audience.”

If your work doesn’t capture the audience of the publication, your work will not be accepted.

“We recently received a story that had funny characters and a good, solid message,” said Lasater, “but the main character’s behavior made him seem four or five years younger than he was supposed to be, much younger than our target audience.” Because of this, the publication had no choice but to reject the story.

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Way 3: Don’t Keep it Real

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You should be aware that over-emphasizing character behavior or dialogue will aide in helping you to lose an editor.

“In fiction submissions,” said Unlocked Editor Kandi Zeller, “don’t make the dialogue in your submission too unbelievable or melodramatic; don’t submit pieces that seem like after-school specials or made-for-TV movies.” Instead, Zeller encourages freelancers to create “well written fiction with believable characters and situations.”

In addition to the age of the character and behavior, Kate Jameson, assistant editor of Clubhouse Jr, reminded us that “Having a kid as a character doesn’t make it a kid’s story. Make sure the topic is appropriate for children.”

Successful writers, of course, can overcome these obstacles by reading material written for the age they wish to write for. In addition, observing kids in action and listening to them converse helps many freelancers master the art of storytelling with characters in the preferred age range.

But remember, if you want to lose an editor, simply make a mess of your characters!

COMING UP NEXT: How to Lose an Editor in 10 Ways “Part 3: Complicate Your Content”

Cindy works as marketing manager and brand storyteller for Child and Parent Services, a nonprofit child abuse prevention organization. She has written more than 525 articles for publication and a handful of book excerpts. Her published portfolio includes children’s stories, kids’ activities, profiles, how-to, humor and human interest. Cindy’s website here.

3 thoughts on “Part II of “How to Lose an Editor in Ten Ways” HOW TO MESS UP YOUR CHARACTERS

  1. I feel fortunate that I haven’t (or don’t remember having) edited a story with characters that didn’t fit the storyline. I could add another way to mess up your young characters and get rejected: Make sure your child-character sits at the table with a wise adult character who knows all the answers to their questions and solves all the child’s problems for them. No child wants to read that kind of story, and you’ll be sure to have your story rejected!

    1. Yes! It’s so important to let the child solve their own problem. If you need a guide, let them help, but let the child do most of the problem-solving. Excellent point!

      The editors didn’t mention that, but I am sure that is an issue they run into from time to time.

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