Middle grade lingo

April 26, 2011 at 7:00 am (Uncategorized)

A friend of mine asked me to look over the first few pages of her novel to give her some feedback. I found myself rather enjoying the story until I realized that the character I was getting to know was actually supposed to be eleven years old. I thought it was an elderly (as in 60+) woman! When I mentioned that to my friend, she laughed and said she wasn’t really in tune with the kids of today. That can be problematic if the audience you are writing for is indeed the kids of today.

If you do not have kids (nor have any desire to have kids), then I would strongly suggest hanging out at the mall (maybe grab a bite to eat in the food court on a Saturday), going to the movies on a Friday or Saturday night (scary, I know), and definitely watching a lot of Disney and Nickelodean. Getting into the minds of a middle grade fiction kid takes more than thinking back to your own fifth grade days. You need to be up to date with vocabulary, dress, and everything else that envelops the very complicated and insane mind of a ten year old. And just so everyone knows, most fifth and sixth graders today have their own cell phones. Crazy, I know, but true. You may want to keep that in mind as you write. 🙂

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Good age for middle grade fiction characters

April 23, 2011 at 5:18 am (Uncategorized)

Many new (and some old-time) authors are often confused as to what age to make their protagonist in a middle grade fiction novel. The general rule is 12 or under. Remember, your target audience is 8 to 11, and kids like to read up (8-year-olds don’t want to read about other 8-year-olds, they want to read about the cool 10 and 11-year-olds). Think of the age of some of the (modern) best-selling middle grade novels…Harry Potter started out as an 11-year-old, Percy Jackson was 12, etc. Of course there are exceptions to this. For example, Nancy Drew is 18 (not really sure why they keep her that age). Or, if your protagonist is only 9, but is dealing with a very serious subject (sexual abuse, racial prejudice), then it will probably be categorized as YA because of content. But for the most part, middle grade fiction writers keep their characters at 12 or younger.

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Middle grade fiction novel length

April 21, 2011 at 11:45 pm (Uncategorized)

I have been doing research on the ideal length for a middle grade fiction novel. I think for a debut novel, the ideal length is considered to be between 25,000 and 40,000 words. Obviously, many successful writers (ie: JK Rowling, Rick Riordan, etc) go WAY past the 40,000 words mark, but they are no longer debut writers. From what I understand, most publishers are leery about spending a heap of money on debut writers as it is, so keeping your middle grade fiction book below 40,000 is fairly safe. Although, if you need 50,000 words to tell your story, you shouldn’t feel trapped. If it’s a good story and well-written, publishers will want your manuscript.

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Is You Is or Is You Ain’t Young Adult?

April 20, 2011 at 6:45 am (Uncategorized)

Is You Is or Is You Ain’t Young Adult?.

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New Blog

April 19, 2011 at 7:01 am (Uncategorized)

The purpose of my new blog will be to critique middle grade fiction works and inform readers of my own progress as well. I am currently feeling my way through the 39 Clues series. It’s interesting how each book, though about the same two kids, has such a different feel about it. I kind of like that each book is written by a different author…it gives me a better idea of which authors I really enjoy and would like to read more about and which authors I find just okay. I am just starting book 5 of the series and have decided that book 1 is still my favorite. Maybe I’m just a die-hard Rick Riordan fan after all.

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