When you write for kids, your life is full of surprises. You can never fully predict what they’ll like or how they’ll respond. I have done concept- and story development for kids for 20 years now. And I still get it wrong – once in a while. I have long since accepted this element of unpredictability – and I have come to treasure it. It keeps me on my toes.
One thing I have learned is that kids can never tell you what to invent. They will always refer to something that already exists and ask for more of that. So when you develop new worlds and characters – you really have no way of knowing how they will be received.
When I came up with the six colors of the Knomes, I did so based on the ‘professions’ that would be needed in the Knome Village to make everyday life run smoothly. I didn’t think too much about what the kids might want. But I made sure that there were the kind of Knomes I needed to tell the stories, I wanted to.
If I were to visit a school class, I would predict that most of the boys – if not all of them – would prefer being the red warrior Knomes. But boy, was I wrong.
I did in fact get a chance to visit a school and talk about the Knomes. There were 24 pupils in this 2nd grade class, and when I asked what Knome they’d like to be, I was amazed by their answers. There was exactly four pupils for each of the six Knome colors. A perfect split.
The boys had much more diverse interests than I had predicted. Once again I learned the kids will always surprise you. It’s what I love about my job … And in this case I was only happy to be proven wrong.