Friday, April 15, 2011

M = MIDDLE Grade for ME!

The first inkling I had that I wanted to write seriously was after rereading some classic English lit novels, most of which I'm sure you'd be familiar with. Then I moved on to YA books possessing a paranormal edge with a romantic flare. So it was natural I started out writing paranormal romances.

But while writing and editing my YA work, I was reading MIDDLE Grade books with my children (those who were age appropriate). I discovered a love for MG lit and a desire to write it as well. There's something about taking a character of said age (11-14ish) and watching them balance life, parents, and friendships--not to mention puberty. And yes it does help that two of my four children are of MIDDLE grade age--one boy and one girl.

My brain became an overactive playground of MG ideas. I wrote half an MG story and realized that writing MG needs a different approach then writing YA. Firstly, the manuscript must be dramatically shorter, ranging somewhere between 20,000 and 40,000 words. Most MG characters seem to be written on the lighter side--meaning the issues of life (such as death) are handled with a bit more delicately then in YA. Language (cursing) and mannerisms are also elements to be cautious when using. And humor, at one point or another, is really important in MG literature. It's engaging to kids of that age.

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Writing MIDDLE  Grade Literature affords me the opportunity to be a bit zany on my own all while teaching lessons to kids who are in the midst of their life-lessons learning process. As a writer, that is a humbling place to be.

What do you write and why do you write it?

40 comments:

  1. I write action/thriller because that's what I find interesting and keeps me in suspense. Influenced by the master of all page-turners, Dan Brown :)

    Duncan In Kuantan

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  2. I'm currently writing romantic suspense because of both the "escape" value and the happily -ever-after...but I'd love to write in your genre for all the reasons you talk about. I've got one WIP that keeps straddling that MG/YA line... just need to figure it out... MG is tough...

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  3. I write older YA because I tend to be interested in dealing with the conflicts of being not-quite-adult but having to shoulder extraordinarily heavy burdens nevertheless.

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  4. Interesting perspective -- those books were really important to me at that age, and my school librarian turned me on to some great authors. Three cheers for Superfudge!

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  5. I love Middle Grade, too! I'd love to try my hand at MG at some point, right now writing YA contemporary and MG nonfiction. But we read a lot of MG in my house--and listen to a lot on CD.

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  6. I critique MG for one of my writer friends and I love reading it--so go you! But I'm a YA girl all the way (at least for now)!

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  7. I haven't read a lot of mg but I think my first ms could be classified as one if it wasn't for the word count...

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  8. I love both mg and YA equally. But a lot of the mg books I've been reading lately are closer to 50K easy. Younger mg for elementary maybe. But for true mg I think 20K would be too short. MG is very magical when done right.

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  9. I like your definition of MG. I never read it as a child, moving right into Asimov and Heinlein. That's probably what's wrong with me now. :P
    Nice to meet you!

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  10. I write romance and dark urban fantasy, but I've written a MG for my daughter. And your right, it IS different. And hard. I don't think I could do it all the time. LoL.

    ~JD

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  11. I generally write YA, but have a MG in the works...it's much more light-hearted and "fun" becuase the characters are younger and seem to be more vibrant, LOL!

    Nice post!

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  12. I love writing upper middle grade and am going to try a YA book next. As my daughter ages up, I'm finding it a bit easier to move up my writing with her. But I'll always love middle grade for the action packed plots and less romance.

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  13. I still write paranormal romance, but I am definitely contemplating MG.

    I'm helping my daughter write a story, so I suppose I'm getting a taste of it through helping her. Fun!

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  14. This is so true to understand the age you are writing too. It is definitely helpful to have kids going through the same challenges that you are writing about. Great post and information.

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  15. I write fantasy romance and sometimes romantic fantasy - ya, there's a difference. Why? Because I want to make my own rules!

    I would never write mg or ya because that part of life is soooo over for me.

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  16. Some of my stories end up MG, and some YA--depending on what the characters and plot call for--I'm not sure I have a ton of control over my muses....I think I just go where the story goes. :)

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  17. I write sci-fi YA. I love YA books and themes. There is something so empowering about this time in a person's life when they are discovering their identity and dealing with a real life that is theirs for the first time. Their mistakes have consequences. Their triumphs are theirs alone. I love this time period of learning and discovering and empowerment. There are many reasons why YA is for me, this is just one of the best.

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  18. I must admit, I don't read a heck of a lot of MG. Maybe I should give it more of a go!

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  19. I started with YA Fantasy, but I'm going to try something a little different for this new WIP. MG seems like it'd be so much fun, though. I've brainstormed a few ideas but none have been quite right.

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  20. I write YA but think I'll write MG at some point. I love reading middle grade books and think it would be fun to write for that age group. :)

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  21. I write Science Fiction because I love the different worlds and the possibility for creating new characters and ways of doing things.

    Thanks for coming by my blog!

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  22. @ Chrisine - Thank you!

    @ Golden Eagle - so important to write what we enjoy.

    @ Anne - I'm sure you can do it!!

    @ Joanne - you really should try it. Think of it as a relaxing exercise. That's what I did when I first started writing MG. It was too give my brain a break from my YA novel. It kind of took off after that. lol

    Thank you all for sharing what you write and the reasons why!! So neat.

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  23. I write science fiction because I enjoy both movies and books of that nature and can visualize new adventures.

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  24. I haven't read any MG since my children passed that level. I did enjoy them though.

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  25. Sounds like a great reason for me! I write YA because I love connecting with kids and adults, their crossroads in life. I had it very rough as a teen and wished I had something, someone in my life for me. I hope to be that person through books to teens! :)

    ♥.•*¨Elizabeth¨*•.♥

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  26. I'm writing a middle-grade novel right now. I love MG! I think it's because children's books are what made me want to be a writer when I was just a kid because I loved reading so much. Now as an adult, I appreciate MG fiction so much more because I really understand all the nuances and subtle messages. MG authors are clever!

    I want to write in many different genres because I love reading everything...but I think I'd like to establish my career first with middle-grade. Then I can branch out! :)

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  27. Hi! I found your blog through Roland's and I must say I am glad I did.

    You have very informative and heartfelt posts and I love your blog's design.

    I look forward to stalking - pardon - following your posts.

    Have a fantastic weekend! :D

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  28. My first novel is M/G. It's a realistic fantasy. Longer that the norm, even after I basically cut it in half. When a mystery is involved as well as an alternate fairy world, it's impossible to do it in 40,000 words. At least it is for all my descriptive prose.

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  29. I love to read MG but I don't think I could write it. It takes a special skill. I write for YA because I love the themes.

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  30. I write YA, especially stories with romance and danger (but not the dangerous bad boy type). There are so many reasons why I love to write it, but the main one being that I love love love to read it.

    I've thought of writing romantic suspense for adults, but even while I'm reading it, my heart still calls out for YA. Plus, I'm not sure if I can write in an adult voice after working so long to get my YA voice right. ;)

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  31. I write YA because I loved reading YA and sometimes I'd think, "I wish this book would have had this, or done this" etc, so I started writing it (again as an adult, I'd always written my whole life) because I wanted to write the stories the way I wanted them to happen/end. :)

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  32. I write YA and Adult Contemp, and have written a memoir. I truly appreciate reading MG because my older son is really into many of them, and it is great fun to explore them together. I just tend to like writing the edgier stuff.

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  33. Interesting. I light the lighter tone of MG stories. I write YA, but I'm working on a MG novel. Not sure why I write for kids other than the fact that I like them. My first love is romance. Started out reading it early and then decided to write what I like reading.

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  34. I write MG which tends to be upper MG. My stories are between 40 and 45k. I'm going to start working on a YA with a (screen)writer. I'm excited because I'll be able to write more in depth and not so light. I started out writing women's fiction, but my agent suggested another genre. MG seemed natural since I feel like I live in a MG novel every day!

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  35. I see no reason why a writer can't be diversified. In fact, I expect to write in different genres myself. I'm not sure MG is one of them, but I already think in the lines of other genres when I'm writing. I just write notes to the side to come back to later. I think it's a great idea, if you feel it inside.

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  36. I got word from kid lit agent Molly Jaffa first hand that MG can go up to 60k words if it's fantasy and world building is required. I'm like you, I started off with YA, then realized, I'm leaning more toward MG. I hadn't noticed it right off, but we learn as we go, right?
    Anyway, I love it! It's so much fun. I'll still write YA, of course, but cant help wondering if I'm more of a MG writer....

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  37. Thanks, PK, for sharing the word count info. I've heard so many conflicting reports about it. I guess what a writer needs to do is simply write a fantastic story, and it will get out there!!

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  38. Speaking of word count, I'm having a hard time reaching my 60K goal with my new YA book. I'm only half way done. But I'm not going to worry too much about it, I'm still on the first draft.

    Thanks for the informative post.

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  39. I write anything and everything, depending on the ideas that strike me. I belong to SCBWI and am working on two YA novels. I've completed a women's fiction novel for which I'm currently in the midst of editing and rewrites. My first complete novel was a YA fantasy that I wrote for my kids. And I've won awards for Romance short fiction. Guess I better pick a genre, huh? LOL I've yet to publish a completed novel, but I'm hopeful and tenacious. :)

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  40. oh, me too! I love love love reading all that MG to my girls. You'll be fantastic at it! Cannot wait!

    As for me, my brain's still in YA land. Why? I dunno. I guess b/c I'm undiagnosed ADD. *snort* :D xoxo

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