Writing in Crayon

We live in a world of description—green trees, brilliant flowerbeds, dark hallways and overstuffed chairs. Those are the words that show us where the story is taking place; they set the scene. But the heart of most stories is found in the words the characters speak…the dialogue. This is especially true of the stories and characters that stay with us long after we’ve finished the book.

Creating an authentic voice for a character is the greatest challenge an author faces. But the task becomes even more daunting when you write in the voice of a child.

Writing in a child’s voice is like writing in crayon. You have to let go of everything you’ve learned over the years. You step away from the computer and wrap chubby little fingers around a fat crayon. You no longer think about being politically correct and you say what you mean without worrying what others think. The honesty of a child’s voice can reach out and take hold of a reader’s heart in a way mere words seldom can.

I often write stories that involve children and I have been blessed with the ability to think in crayon. I believe this is a result of the many years I’ve taught Sunday School to Kindergarten and First Graders. The honestly in a child’s thoughts and prayers has challenged me to look inside every character and find their true voice. To remind myself of this, I keep a box of crayons on my desk. When I stumble over the most heartfelt way to say something, I take a crayon in hand and start a list of words. Inevitably the right word is in there, it just takes a bit of crayon time to find it.

I pray that I never grow too old or become too serious to write in crayon.