Fantasy should be written for children, not adults. Have you ever sat down and read a child a fantastical story? If they aren’t the sort of child who’s had their imagination ruined by a vigorous schedule of television and video games, their eyes will grow wide and sparkle, they’ll listen avidly, and they’ll laugh and nod and be full of questions. Full of faith that marvels can happen. They have the capacity to believe that dragons might still be lurking under the mountains, dwarves still mining for silver and mithril, elves wandering the forests, shadows creeping in the darkness.
Children still have the capacity for wonder.
Adults, on the other hand, do not. Most adults, I’ll grant an exception out of the goodness of my heart and the knowledge that it’s always chancy to claim 100% when dealing in statistics. Adults are stunted and jaded. Jaundiced and weary. They do not have the capacity for wonder. They have a capacity for sensation, which is why so much of the adult fantasy inflicted on the reading world these days is full of violence and gore and sex and a great deal of mind-numbing sensory overkill.
I rather think that most adults are a lost cause in this respect. But children? No, they’re still willing to suspend the dreary bonds of mundanity. Write fantasy for them, if you’re going to write it. Perhaps some of the adults out there, those with younger minds, will read your stories as well. If they do or if they don’t–that’s irrelevant–save your creativity for the children, for they’re the only ones who truly understand about hobbit holes or white rabbits who are in dreadful hurries or flying bedsteads or black cauldrons that should really be left alone.
2 thoughts on “Fantasy should be written for Children”
Yup. For a given value of “children”. C. S. Lewis: “On Three Ways of Writing for Children”, “Sometimes Fairy Stories Say Best What’s to Be Said”, and “On Juvenile Tastes”. And now I’ll go back to quoting those essays in the paper I’m writing.
Ah! I need to read that Lewis essay again. It’s been too long.