Assignment Two – Exercise – Writing for different age groups

I am doing the ‘show, don’t tell’ exercise on page 40 of WFC and I’m really struggling with pin pointing age groups. The extracts have confused me and I was surprised by the age groups that they were aimed at. I thought I had worked it out but now I have tried the exercise, I am not so sure.

I aimed the first scene at 7+ and intended to do the second one for 9-12 years but I can’t seem to get started and am now wondering if my first attempt should be for that age group. What do you think?

Extract of a story.

Written for 7+

The tickling feeling in Snowball’s tummy would not go away. The other pigs watched her from a safe distance as they shuffled about in the muddy earth.

She turned to look at them, eyes wide, eyebrows raised, snout twitching. They snuffled and nodded their heads, urging her to go on. Snowball swallowed hard and took a deep breath before turning to face Napoleon again. His broad back was towards her and his snout was deep in the trough. She tried to ignore the smell of food as she cleared her throat.

‘Ah-hem.’ squeaked Snowball, her voice sounding higher than she had intended. ‘Could I have a word, Napoleon?’

Napoleon grunted loudly but carried on eating, chomping and slurping. His curly tail tried, without much success, to swat the fly that was crawling over his extremely large and hairy, black bottom.ย  Snowball wrinkled her nose at such a horrible sight. She was proud of being pure white and everyone had always commented on her beauty and trim figure.

Snowball tried again.

‘The others have had a meeting and…’ She hesitated as Napoleon’s head snapped up. ‘…and they have asked me to come and speak to you…about meal times.’

Napoleon grunted and stuck his snout back into the trough.

‘They…They don’t think it’s fair that you always eat all the best bits.’

Snowball looked back at the others again. All six pigs pretended to be looking for something in the ground. Snowball was beginning to feel very alone. Why on earth did I volunteer, she asked herself before trying once more.

‘Now look here, Napoleon. You can’t always have everything you want. I…’

Napoleon stopped eating. He slowly turned his great hulk of a body and faced Snowball. His long snout was covered in bits of food.

‘And who is going to stop me.’ He bellowed.

Snowball staggered backwards and nearly lost her balance in the ankle-deep mud. He had nearly made her fall and get her beautiful white coat dirty. How dare he, she thought.

‘We…We are.’ she squealed in anger.

She heard the others squeaking and grunting as they ran off in several directions. Now she really was alone.

‘Is that so?’ Napoleon asked, almost laughing out loud.

Snowball puffed her chest out.

‘Yes, that is so. From now on you must take your turn to eat like everyone else.’ She could hear her own voice getting louder. ‘We…I won’t let you bully us anymore.’

Snowball marched up to the trough. She held her head high and tried to keep her herself from slipping ย and sliding in the gloopy mess. Her feet were making squelching noises as the mud sucked at her toes with every step.

She pushed passed Napoleon, hurting her soft shoulder as it caught the muscles of his side. Ignoring the pain, she pushed her face into the trough and bit down on a juicy apple core. Her mouth watered as it crunched in her jaws. A ripe banana, all black and sweet and mushy, found its way into her mouth and she giggled with delight. Forgetting her fear, she lifted her head and grinned at Napoleon.

‘Now this is what I call heaven.’ she said.

Napoleon stared at her. No pig had ever done that before. No other pig had ever challenged him. He didn’t know whether to bite her or join in the feast. Greed got the better of him. He moved up to her side and nudged her.

‘Move up. I want some banana.’ he grunted.

‘What’s the magic word?’ she asked, her eyes flashing at him, her snout curled into a snarl.

‘Please.’ he whispered not wanting the others to hear.


3 thoughts on “Assignment Two – Exercise – Writing for different age groups

  1. I really enjoyed reading this, Carole. I’m guessing Snowball is also a pig? Was Napoleon in Animal Farm a pig as well? (haven’t read it but I’ve seen TV clips).
    I think the problem with writing for the 7+ market is that many 7+’s could also have a reading age of 9-12 and we have this problem constantly in our library at the school where I work. It’s nice that publishers/authors say ‘this book is under 5’s, 7+ and 9-12 but unfortunately the categorising only works to a point.
    That said, I’d say what you’ve written is pretty much spot-on for a 7+ audience – the only words I was unsure of this age entirely grasping were ‘hesitated’, ‘volunteered’ and ‘challenged’, but then it’s a long time since I read to a 7+ so they might have become more accelerated readers since then ๐Ÿ˜‰
    I loved all the evocative words you used – the squelching, squeaking, grunting, gloopy mess etc – kids love these things ๐Ÿ™‚
    I think a younger audience would need a lot less syllables, and an audience of 9-12 would need a bit more excitement and grit and daring,, so in that respect I’d say your target audience of 7+ is spot-on.
    Did I help? :/


    1. You certainly did help Debs. Should I be calling you Debs on Facebook?

      I agree entirely with you about reading ages covering a much wider spectrum than the categories listed. Your response makes more sense to me than the limited feedback I received. Although in essence it was the same, I found your interpretation more motivating. I think I can have a go at the 9-12 version now.
      Napoleon was a pig in Animal Farm according to the extract I had to read before I did the task. I haven’t read the book either but felt it helped me write the scene my own way with no prior know;edge of the book.
      I really appreciate your feedback and would be more than pleased to reciprocate if ever you feel the need. I think giving feedback helps to cement your own learning and is invaluable.



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