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Friday, November 7, 2014

Writing for Middle Grade Readers

This class at LDStorymakers Midwest Conference was a lot of fun. I don't write for middle grade audiences, but after this class I've started thinking about it. You can have so much fun with it!

Okay, quick side note. There were so many instances of deja vu in this class that I almost ran screaming from the hotel! It was really freaky. No less than 4 moments out of the hour where I could tell you exactly who was going to say something next and what it was. Guess that means I was exactly where I was supposed to be? Either that or I didn't learn the lesson the first go around and the universe pulled a Groundhog Day on me. (Who got that reference?)

Adam Glendon Sidwell also taught this class. The format was probably the most fun I had all day. We came up with a story as a class, starting with a character, the problem and several attempts to solve it filled with twists. Adam really helped us look into the mind of a middle grade reader while doing this.

The keys for that class where:
1. Middle Grade is about kids who live inside a limited world, ie the safety of their home, their parents watchful care, the borders of their schools.

2. Middle Grade is about kids stepping beyond those borders.

3. The relationship with authority figures has to be part of the story. The protagonist children have to be given the opportunity to take the lead and be fully responsible for their own success or failure. They have to finish the quest alone (Luke Skywalker goes into the cave alone on Dagobah to face Vader. Dumbledore died). This is why you see so many orphan stories.

Here's the amazon link to CHUM. It's a good example of a kid going it alone, since 13 year-old Levi heads out onto a pirate ship without his dad or anyone knowing he's gone out to sea. Chum is a very upper Middle Grade story:

And, check out the book trailer for Evertaster. After watching you'll want to hire Adam for all your trailer needs. I mean seriously! *drools over the mad skills*


Sheena-kay Graham said...

Would it be awkward to saw when I saw the cover in the past I thought Evertaster main character was a girl with short hair? The trailer is really good but I'm not wowed. Maybe because the story hasn't drawn me in. But it's still a pretty good trailer. I like the trailer for Fetch much better.

I have one middle grade novel in the works. It's titled Monster City and here are two examples of one sentence synopsis for the whole book.

(A) Jupiter wants Monster City to be Monroe City again, but to do that he needs to prove a monster didn't murder a child decades ago.

(B) In Monster City no human is allowed to harbour monsters yet Jupiter and his parents harbour Bo, who can't come out in the open until citizens believe monsters aren't a danger or child murderers.

Sorry if this comment is so long and a bit 'me' centered.

Anyway, Adam seems to be a great teacher. After watching the trailer I clicked an interview and can see why people would want to hire him. In just minutes he tells you about himself, delivers great tips and keeps you engaged through out. Now that's how you promote! Those key aspects discussed are definitely a big part of MG. In my novel Jupiter does live a somewhat sheltered life despite secretly rebelling against his cities anti-monster policies (along with his parents), as things get more heated Jupiter has to take more risks along with his monster Bo and there is a point where he he has to face a giant obstacle alone. But yet I do believe rules are made to be broken (sometimes).

Whoo! I'm glad to have let all these feelings loose. Thanks UB for sharing all this MG informative goodness. I need to come by more often. Enjoy your weekend.

Liz A. said...

So there's a middle grade book in your future?

Kristin Smith said...

Whoa, love this trailer!