Kids and Comics: Getting children fired up about reading
Recently, I was given the opportunity to not only speak to the entire student body of Haywood Christian Academy's elementary campus again this year but also a Home school Co-Op of fifth and sixth graders.
Being mainly a horror writer, it always surprises me when folks ask me to come teach children about the importance of reading and how to become a writer when they grow up. I'm a guy who writes about the Apocalypse, monsters, and some really dark and disturbing stuff.
That said, I also script comic books for Unstoppable Comics based out of New York and usually choose to focus on that element of my writing for younger audiences.
At both speaking events this year, I opened with questions of my own for the children and they floored me with how much they knew about comic books. They knew things like Superman being the world's first superhero, that Wonder Woman is stronger than the Hulk, and could even tell me who was the smartest mortal character of the entire Marvel Universe (it's Mr. Fantastic if you didn't know).
After being blown away by the answers the children gave and seeing how many of them wanted to grow up to writers themselves, I decided to share what I personally believe are the four keys to success as a writer.
1) Put God first in all you do. Give him the glory. Be thankful for the high times when you're selling movie rights and trust in his plan for you during the low ones.
2) Read everything you can. It's far more important than you might think. It teaches you a ton of things from style to pacing to basic plot structure. And while you're learning those things, reading goes even further. It also increases your vocabulary and gives you knowledge of whatever you're reading about so you can apply that knowledge in creating a sense of realism in your own work.
3) Write. Do it everyday no matter whether it's a story, novel, poem, or script. Practice at writing hones your skill and makes you grow as a writer even if you end up throwing whatever you're working on away instead of submitting it to a publisher.
4) Publish. Don't waste your time showing off your words to a friend, loved one, or even a writers' group. You want to put you work (when it's ready) in the hands of someone who can actually do something with it and pay you for it. That means a publisher or agent for those of you unfamiliar with the industry.
With this more academic part of my talk over, at both events, the kids and I returned to discussing comics in general and had a blast learning about various characters' powers and histories. I feel greatly honored to be able to do speaking events of this nature and according to the teachers involved really got the children thinking.
Getting children passionately interested in reading is a very important thing and comic books are such a fantastic and under-used means of doing so.