Children’s books, television shows, and movies are our first introductions to storytelling. These initial stories help shape how we understand and interact with the world. Their value isn’t lost after we grow older; on the contrary, children’s stories can help teach us a thing or two about screenwriting!
Simpler is often better
Children’s stories teach us to take an idea and distill it down to the core of itself. I’m not saying to dumb something down, but I’m talking about expressing an idea in the most economical way possible. Delivering a story most straightforwardly increases your odds of it connecting with an audience, which is probably why Pixar movies connect so well with kids and adults.
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No story is too small to tell
You can find a meaningful story anywhere. Children’s stories show us that a purple crayon can be a powerful tool for creation, giving a mouse a cookie can send you down an unexpected path, and being sent to bed without supper can be how a wild rumpus starts. Children’s stories remind us that no story is too small to tell, only the limits of our imaginations dictate the possibilities of a story. You don’t always need to look towards the fantastical to tell a compelling story. The next time you’re stuck creatively, consider thinking of things smaller in scale and a little closer to home. Stories are all around you.
Tell stories honestly, even if it’s it hard
Charlotte’s Web, The Graveyard Book, and Love You Forever are all children’s books that tell stories with difficult subject matters. These books work because they tell their stories honestly, which should be the ultimate goal for all writers. Even when the lesson in the story is a difficult one to tell, approaching it truthfully is how it will effectively connect with an audience.
A happy ending is okay
Sometimes as adult writers, we doubt the authenticity or believability of a happy ending, but some stories deserve just that. The triumph of good over evil or the well-deserved success of a character aren’t endings only children enjoy. As adults, it’s just as satisfying to see Harry Potter defeat Voldemort and for the wizarding world to become a safer place.
Children’s stories remind us how to tell the core of a story in its most reduced form. The story can be just as exciting, but a simpler way of expressing something can still have power and meaning. Often, power and meaning are easier to grasp, making the story more enjoyable for more people. Children’s stories often instill us with lessons we carry throughout our lifetimes, and their ability to do that is nothing to look down on. Acknowledging and exploring the techniques children’s stories employ can improve our own storytelling skills, ideally making our words something an audience will keep with them for a long time.
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