Beyond the wall

This weeks module for my Writing for Young Readers course covered genre, form and audience. It touched upon the types of genres specific audience groups prefer, their understanding of language, and how to tailor my writing to cater for each reading level. The assignment that followed required me to choose a genre, form and audience and write up to 500 words on a subject of my choice.

Initially I decided to write a poem for 6-8 years. In the interest of complete transparency, I only chose this based on the amount of effort I thought I would have to put in. I’m quite good at writing poems for comical purposes, so I figured I would be able to knock one up in no time. Little did I know my ignorant laziness would present me with a lesson to be learned. Writing for this age is not an easy feat, especially when you have nothing to draw reference upon. I don’t ever spend time with any children of this age, so I’m massively out of touch with their level of understanding, even after completing this module. I just don’t know what they’re in to. I tried to think back to when I was of that age, but I simply couldn’t remember. Groovy Chick, Goosebumps and Tammy Girl is all I could think of, and even then, was that more 12+. Who knows? Was everything I came up with patronising? Probably.

So I bailed. I’m going to have to let that idea settle while I learn more about this age group. I’ll be doing some market research, so if anyone has suggestions on books to read for this audience then please let me know in the comments.

Instead the end product was something that came to me this morning. The book I’m reading at the moment is called ‘The Girl With All The Gifts’ by  M. R. Carey, which provided some inspiration into the premise of the idea for my story. It’s the idea of being trapped somewhere, knowing your a little different from everyone else around but not really understanding why. I wrote this with the intention that it would be an adventure story for the 9-12 age bracket. I haven’t had any feedback from my course yet, so I don’t know if I’ve hit the marker in terms of getting the language  and sentence structure right for this age. I would love to hear if anyone has any feedback 🙂

Beyond the Wall

Kate had never been on the other side of the wall before, though she’d always wanted to. The boys in her class had said they jumped over once, but she didn’t believe them. They also said that girls weren’t able to climb walls like can boys, so that’s how she knows they are liars. Kate’s a very good climber. Good enough to beat Billy over the wall, that’s for sure. The boys at school are always saying stuff like that. Girls can’t do this, girls can’t do that. Billy once told Kate that no girl could ever become an explorer, or an adventurer. “Girls have to stay on the base, it’s too dangerous for them outside” he would say, but that only made Kate want to do it even more.

That is where Kate and her family live, at a place called the ‘base’. Surrounded by walls as tall as buildings it’s guarded by men with helmets and guns. There is a supermarket and a swimming pool, and their school is on base too, so the women and children never get to leave. Everybody who lives on the base has a dad or husband in the army. Her dad is a solider, so she doesn’t see him very often. He goes away for months at a time, but they spend lots of time together when he comes back. Kate’s dad said she can do anything if she puts her mind to it, and that she believes.

One Friday at school, Billy and the boys were giving Kate a really tough time. In class they were all learning about the Pacific Ocean. Miss Mulberry told a story about a lady called Sharon Sites Adams, who was the first women to sail across the Pacific all on her own back in the 60’s. It was the coolest thing Kate had ever heard. “Miss, when I go to Secondary School, will I learn how to sail like Mrs Adams did?” Kate said. Before Miss Mulberry could reply, the boys burst into laughter. “Ha, in your dreams” said Billy. “There’s no Ocean on base, and you know you’re never leaving” he scoffed. Leaning backwards into the heels of his chair, he reached his hand out to Danny, who gave him a low high-five under the table.

When the whistle blew Kate collected her bags and ran straight through the halls and out of school. Red with anger, she didn’t stop running until finally she made it to the wall at the edge of the base. She stood for a minute, starring at the patterns in the cement. Shutting her eyes she wished she had the courage to make it over that wall. Imagining what it would be like on the other side she squeezed her eyes tightly to fight back the tears. All of a sudden Kate began to feel strange. Slowly opening her eyes, she could see fields of green all around her.  She was beyond the wall.


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