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From the mouths of … teenage fiction readers…


So we had three 14 year old guys (friends of Youngest Son) staying over last night for New Year’s. (The pyrotechnics are a whole other story.)

Over a brunch of hotdogs, the boys started talking about the Hunger Games books and films. My wife asked, “What’s better the books or the films?” Two boys shrugged. After thinking for a moment, the other (not my son, who sadly doesn’t read much) said this, quite seriously:

“Well. In the book, you can skip straight to the actual Hunger Games. In the film, you have to sit through an hour and ten minutes of crap first. So the book’s definitely better.”

I think this is instructive for writers, particularly writers of young adult ficiton and particularly authors seeking male readers under 30. As Montgomery Burns once said, “Get to the bloody point!”

Whatchoo think?

Published inOn Writing


  1. That means figuring out what they want to read and cutting to the chase. Or possibly writing two books, one for them and a lengthier one for everyone else.

    But you really need a bigger sample

  2. Thanks, Suzie. I think Disney have generally done this well in animated movies, even in films I despise. They tend to start with action that IS world- and character-building and then drop back to some unpacking for a while once we’re hooked. They didn’t do this with Cars — or rather they got stuck in the unpacking — and it was by far their worst cartoon movie to date.

    For me, the biggest take home in this one young man’s comment was that you fulfill a promise to a reader, rather than dumb things down. IE., the book promises Hunger Games (I haven’t read it, I’ll admit) but to him, it took too long to get to the point of the book. Imagine if Jaws had started with stuff about Brody’s family and political pressures rather than with the shark which the book’s title promises us.

    My opinions only. (And yes, definitely need a bigger sample, lol).

  3. This reminds me of a book my 11 year old son is reading, it’s taking him ages to get through the first couple of chapters, he says it’s boring and wants to get to the adventure. My son is a reader and reads a lot, this particular books seems to be slow to start. I want him to hurry up so I can read it and know what he’s talking about.

  4. Cheers, Melissa, and thanks for stopping by.

    I have to admit, I admired the young bloke at our place for his approach to reading which is basically the way I tackle non-fiction: just flip pages til you get to something interesting! 🙂

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