I’ve discovered a slightly odd problem recently. Setting the tone correctly in the story I’m writing.

How to create the correct age rating on what I’m trying to say.

For me, to set the tone in a childrens book, just don’t swear and avoid talking about willies. By the same token, the reverse is true when setting up an adult story, boobs and a liberal sprinkling of curse words and you’re good to go.

I know that’s more than a little over simplification but what about that grey area between the two?

I’ve been writing to appeal to everyone, spreading the love as far as I can but that means I’m forever playing in the no mans land between sounding like I’m writing a kiddies cartoon or dodgy porn or horror.

Now I recognise that the topic I’m playing with allows me the largest scope to be able to make sure I can appeal to everyone but there still remains the pitfalls of violence described too graphically or with so much fluffiness to make it painful.

So what to do?

I need to try and get the point across without including huge swathes of Clive Barker-esque brutality or repeated examples of ‘gosh darn it’. I need to ensure there is enough meat to the story that any discerning adult will be engaged without delving too deeply into topics and phrases which younger readers either wouldn’t understand or shouldn’t hear.

Those of you out there who’ve been reading what I’ve got to say on here for some time will have read a small collection of my short stories. I didn’t pick those stories specifically for this reason but there seems to be a decent show of my writing for different ages. Forced New Life makes you think but isn’t nasty, The Power of a Book feels to me to be more of a teenage flavoured tale, Make Believe Friend is more adult in its tone but still not totally off limits to younger readers, maybe some though, and True Love is certainly meant only for grown ups.

Trying to ensure that you say the right thing at the right time is vital to making the overall tale as compelling as possible. Using the wrong phrase at a given point can crush the fragile environment you’re making so the appropriate language is a must. The age of the reader is just another consideration.

I’ll just have to avoid loads of talk about characters going to bed to have a ‘special cuddle’.


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