Tag Archives: nonfiction writing

Thingamajings with Sticky-Outie Legs

Thingamajings with Sticky-Outie Legs

I’ve been thinking about clarity of expression and also ways to achieve an engaging and “modern” narrative voice. Children’s nonfiction demands that the writer distil information in an accessible manner; all the time, keeping interest high. The fun quotient is vital. No eight-year-old is going to slog through a paragraph that is dead boring. The question is: how do you know how much silliness and slang to scoop in? Here’s my take on it:

1. Keep the content front and centre. Don’t let hip-’n’-cool phrases upstage your subject matter.

2. Minimize the use of fly-by-night, ultra-trendy slang that will not stand the test of time. I have not yet found an occasion to use the current slang term “random” in a piece of writing.

3. Be judicious with exclamation points. Don’t use them to make up for dull writing.

4. Pepper your writing with some kid-friendly expressions to keep the tone lively, friendly, and up to date. This might include words, such as jazzy, zippy, awesome, easy-peasy, creepy, ooey-gooey and so on.

5. Add onomatopoeic words to infuse your writing with words that sound as great as they look: buzz, brrrr, snap, meow. The key is balance. Too many will tip this balance and ruin the effect. Ditto for point 4 above.

6. Try some of these fun exclamations—but not too often: Hey! Mmm! Shhh! Whoa! Yay! If you go overboard on these, your writing will sound formulaic or cloying. Ug!

7. Find some friendly connector phrases, such as “check it out,” “listen up,” “think about” to replace more formal, adult-sounding transitions.

Drop me a line to tell me what you think. Do you prefer clear, succinct writing, without the extra embellishments? I’d love to hear from you!

Read More »