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Thread: All Things Middle Grade

  1. #2501
    recovering pantser aus10phile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toothpaste View Post
    And afterwards you can go through them and see if there are any you can cut down the middle. But generally yes, it's something I do in editing after the novel is complete.
    I've actually done this on the fly some with the adult stuff I've written. I've started out a chapter thinking I'm going to end it at one point, but then midway through I write a line and realize, ​Oh! That would make a much stronger ending/hook. So I end up splitting it in two. It's hard for me to imagine writing an entire book without having the chapter breaks in mind in advance! I've heard of a lot of other people doing it this way, though.
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  2. #2502
    practical experience, FTW grandma2isaac's Avatar
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    would love if there were people still posting here. I have been writing a lot of different genres, probably due to the fact that I read different genres. The lower grade or mg story that I am nearly satisfied with combines a lot of the amazing things I watched my own children going through. I incorporated the childhood toys of my grandson to live the scenes. I am hoping to find someone to beta read it for me soon and give me some pointers.

  3. #2503
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    I'm interested in middle grades but am just listening in right now. Bumping!

  4. #2504
    Coffee Fiend CamJMcFadden's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grandma2isaac View Post
    would love if there were people still posting here. I have been writing a lot of different genres, probably due to the fact that I read different genres. The lower grade or mg story that I am nearly satisfied with combines a lot of the amazing things I watched my own children going through. I incorporated the childhood toys of my grandson to live the scenes. I am hoping to find someone to beta read it for me soon and give me some pointers.
    Seconded! I am (mostly) new to the forum and just stumbled upon this section. If there are other MG authors out there working on a project, I'd love to hear about it. With all the YA books going around, it's rare to find authors specifically focused on MG.

  5. #2505
    THE EXPLORERS is out now!! Toothpaste's Avatar
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    We have a weekly check-in thread, which admittedly hasn't been used since September, but it is where most of us are active when we're here.

    http://absolutewrite.com/forums/show...n-Thread/page6

  6. #2506
    Coffee Fiend CamJMcFadden's Avatar
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    Hi Toothpaste! Thanks so much for the heads up - I'll see you over there!

  7. #2507
    Super Browser triceretops's Avatar
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    I'm popping in here. I hope this thread is still active. Of course, I could read through the whole thing, but that would take time away from writing my upper middle grade, which I just started. I think I've watched every instructional on writing middle grade fiction extent. I also read some articles and books. I think I'm on the right track. This is my first attempt at MG. I've finished and published some YA, and had no trouble with it. I need to know the basic differences between MG and YA. I have four characters, ages, 13, 12, 12 and 11. I guess that could might qualify as lower YA or upper middle. My four kids take a portal to several fantasy lands and change the lifestyles of the inhabitants for positive purposes. That sounds more YA, I think. Anyway, I'll check out some posts here and see if I can learn anything.

  8. #2508
    Livin' la vida biblia ASeiple's Avatar
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    Hey there! I'm a newbie author, looking to get into the middle grade market next year. I've published some superhero stuff before, but for a decidedly older audience. I've got a high fantasy MG manuscript draft done, it's just going through beta reading now. After that will come editing, and several rounds of queries.
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  9. #2509
    THE EXPLORERS is out now!! Toothpaste's Avatar
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    Hi triceretops - honestly those ages and plot read really MG to me. What about it feels like it would be more YA?

    Some thoughts without my having much info to go on: The big thing I suppose would be tone. There's more to MG than just age and subject matter. Do you want to post maybe the first chapter on SYW maybe? Also if it was YA you'd definitely have to age those characters up. Also while reading instruction manuals is great, I hope you are also reading recently published MG. There's no better set of instructions than reading what's out there right now.

  10. #2510
    practical experience, FTW
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    triceretops - I can't echo what Toothpaste said enough. You basically have to drown yourself in MG fiction to the point that you just know it when you see it. Think of it like learning a new language. When you are learning it you are trying to remember all the rules and your words and sentences come out clunky. But when you are fluent you just say things that might not be technically right but it sounds right. I don't know, might not be the best example (nor am I probably expressing my thought accurately) but that is how I view it.

    Congrats ASeiple!

  11. #2511
    Super Browser triceretops's Avatar
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    Hi, Toothpaste and playground. I only thought that it might be YA in a sense that the kids use their knowledge and power for change. I was under the impression that MG had characters that were discovering the world around them and how to fit in. I think I picked that up in a video. My understanding that general MG is for about the ages of eight to 12. that's why I thought I was a little high. I'm 1.5 chapters into it, and I gotta tell ya I'm pretty scared about this. I'm sure you hit right on it when you said the tone has to be set, and I think so from the start. I'm having doubts about suspension of disbelief and I think that has to do with tone and revelation. I would call this an MG "portal" fantasy, like Alice in Wonderland or such.

    I feel if I post the first chapter in SYW I might get swarmed with too many things at once. Now I would mind swapping first chapters with somebody here. I think it's a good idea for me to be given some guidance on tone, pace, dialogue and such. Any takers out there?
    And what word count are you comfortable with for an MG story? They say 25,000 to 45,000 words. Didn't Harry Potter start off in the MG realm and go much long than that?

  12. #2512
    THE EXPLORERS is out now!! Toothpaste's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by triceretops View Post
    Hi, Toothpaste and playground. I only thought that it might be YA in a sense that the kids use their knowledge and power for change. I was under the impression that MG had characters that were discovering the world around them and how to fit in. I think I picked that up in a video.
    Well but I mean . . . main characters regardless of age have to DO things. You reference Harry Potter down below, and yes the first three books are solidly MG. Wouldn't you say that they are using their knowledge and power for change? I mean Harry defeats Voldemort in the very first book . Yes MG characters are also learning about the world around them, but they have to be active, they have to do something otherwise what's the point of the story? And while Alice in Wonderland is MG, it is old fashioned. The idea of a character falling into a world and just interacting in a whimsical fashion is not what current MGs are all about. Hence the suggestion that you read what's out there now. Even more so than instructional manuals. Quite honestly, I don't really trust those.


    Quote Originally Posted by triceretops View Post
    My understanding that general MG is for about the ages of eight to 12. that's why I thought I was a little high.
    Yes but readers read up. So a 13 yearold protagonist is a fine age. It's certainly not YA age, too young.


    Quote Originally Posted by triceretops View Post
    I'm 1.5 chapters into it, and I gotta tell ya I'm pretty scared about this. I'm sure you hit right on it when you said the tone has to be set, and I think so from the start. I'm having doubts about suspension of disbelief and I think that has to do with tone and revelation. I would call this an MG "portal" fantasy, like Alice in Wonderland or such.
    Keep going. You most likely will find the tone as you go along. You can always come back to the beginning and change it to match what you discover later on. But please please read current MGs. That will really help you with tone. A lot. Heck, not so sure it's helpful at all since it's only one chapter, but chapter one of mine out next year is available to preview online (scroll down to "Read an excerpt"): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-...063?type=eBook

    Quote Originally Posted by triceretops View Post
    I feel if I post the first chapter in SYW I might get swarmed with too many things at once. Now I would mind swapping first chapters with somebody here. I think it's a good idea for me to be given some guidance on tone, pace, dialogue and such. Any takers out there?
    I think if you say that you are super new at this and that you are looking specifically for notes on specific things and that you want people to be kind and patient with you that would result in a calmer kind of SYW critique. Also there aren't as many of us in that part of SYW so you won't be swarmed the way Query Letter Hell is for example

    Quote Originally Posted by triceretops View Post
    And what word count are you comfortable with for an MG story? They say 25,000 to 45,000 words. Didn't Harry Potter start off in the MG realm and go much long than that?
    Yup that's a good length but it isn't the be all and end all. My first MG was 80K. This latest one out next year is 60K. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was 70K. Short and sweet is the norm, but there are always exceptions. Write the book first and go from there .

  13. #2513
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin technoglobe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by triceretops View Post
    They say 25,000 to 45,000 words. Didn't Harry Potter start off in the MG realm and go much long than that?
    Just a warning, I'm unpublished, so I could be off base here. I've heard that MG fantasy (especially upper MG) runs more on the long end. I've heard 50k-60k on a couple of blogs.
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  14. #2514
    Super Browser triceretops's Avatar
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    Thanks, Toothpaste. All great advice and I will have a look at your excerpt. Good advice about forging on and developing the tone and then coming back to make some tweaks. I think a sense of foreboding is what I'm after. I picked up Roald Dahl's Witches from our kids' room, but that might be too far into the classic style, and much older than what's out there. I might try SYW, if I get up the nerve. Haven't been there in a while. First chapters any genre? Or is there a kid's section?

  15. #2515
    Super Browser triceretops's Avatar
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    Nice excerpt, Adrienne. You have a good lead-in and I can see that it's not rushed. We have a little background of the family and Sebastian's education. The Explorers Society is the hook of interest, and the MC is wrestling with his curiosity of the door. Just from reading this, I think I might need a little more set-up. I'm very rushed and into the mystery too quickly. I think there is a lesson in pulling the reader along rather than shoving. I shoved very fast and hard , to get the action sequence out. I see that later in the chapter/excerpt, mood begins to creep into it--a foreboding. Consequences seem right around the corner.
    Last edited by triceretops; 12-10-2016 at 06:44 PM.

  16. #2516
    Typing away 1 word at a time erica_henry's Avatar
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    Hello everyone. I wanted to say I'm a newbie to MG but not writing. I'm almost finished editing my first MG and getting ready to start querying it. I'm so excited and nervous. I currently have a chapter book making it's rounds with agents, and my MG will be going around soon as well. I absolutely hate querying. It's like asking people to go out with you and having them laugh in your face for even asking. Ok, it really isn't all that bad, but still not fun lol.
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  17. #2517
    THE EXPLORERS is out now!! Toothpaste's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by triceretops View Post
    Thanks, Toothpaste. All great advice and I will have a look at your excerpt. Good advice about forging on and developing the tone and then coming back to make some tweaks. I think a sense of foreboding is what I'm after. I picked up Roald Dahl's Witches from our kids' room, but that might be too far into the classic style, and much older than what's out there. I might try SYW, if I get up the nerve. Haven't been there in a while. First chapters any genre? Or is there a kid's section?
    If you are looking to create a sense of forboding may I recommend Kenneth Oppel's THE NEST. It's a MG book that came out this year, really really creepy, and it's been winning a ton of awards and stuff. I also highly recommend you go to a bookstore and have a scan of the 8 - 12 yearold section. Maybe the front table where the more popular books are located. Take a day when you aren't rushed and maybe read a couple first chapters of various books, heck maybe if a couple intrigue you buy them and have a read.

    And yes, there's a kid section in SYW, just scroll down to "Children's"





    Quote Originally Posted by triceretops View Post
    Nice excerpt, Adrienne. You have a good lead-in and I can see that it's not rushed. We have a little background of the family and Sebastian's education. The Explorers Society is the hook of interest, and the MC is wrestling with his curiosity of the door. Just from reading this, I think I might need a little more set-up. I'm very rushed and into the mystery too quickly. I think there is a lesson in pulling the reader along rather than shoving. I shoved very fast and hard , to get the action sequence out. I see that later in the chapter/excerpt, mood begins to creep into it--a foreboding. Consequences seem right around the corner.
    Thank you! That's very lovely of you to say .

    And I think yes, this is a problem many writers (of all genres and markets) face these days. We are told so much by agents and publishers that we need to start with a metaphorical bang that I think we as authors panic a bit and sometimes rush to get into the story without really giving the beginning its due. The key to starting with a bang is simply starting with interest. Starting in a place that the reader goes, "Ooh, okay, let's see what happens!" Sometimes yes writers start too soon, a few chapters too early and there's far too much set up and not enough story. But because of this warning I think many authors have now taken it to the extreme on the other side. They rush into things now a bit too fast.

    Taking your time is important. Also don't forget: this is your first draft. You can edit the crap out of this in time. You might be in a position right now where you need to write more not less in order to figure out your story and style. You can cut things later if you need to.

  18. #2518
    Super Browser triceretops's Avatar
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    Ah, thanks. I agree that editors and agents have this notion of a lightening start--a real grabber. I've had quite a few comments about "the first pages didn't grab me." It's all in technique really, not so much a fireworks display. Should have interest in the MC up there so we care about him/her--that can be a great hook/grabber in itself. And there is nothing wrong with a little set-up. I just have to watch my backstory getting crowded in there like I have done with many books.

    Oh, and thanks. Kid section--SYW. I just might be headed that way after some grammar work and a few tweaks.
    Last edited by triceretops; 12-10-2016 at 10:27 PM.

  19. #2519
    THE EXPLORERS is out now!! Toothpaste's Avatar
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    Exactly. It's not about being EXCITING!!!!!! It's about being compelling. And ultimately yes, it's all about the main character. I do think sometimes in MG people get all wrapped up in the cool fantastical world they created, or the whimsy, or teaching a lesson, or being funny or whatever that they forget that the thing even child readers need most (just like adult) is an interesting main character (this isn't to say that adult writers don't fall into the exact same trap)

    And great! Let us know when you do

  20. #2520
    Super Browser triceretops's Avatar
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    Okay, I headed over the SYW kids and laid my first chapter down. We'll see how it goes. Like I say, YA has pretty much been my thing. I'm interested in the differences between the two or how wide the gap may or may not be.

  21. #2521
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    Right now, I'm writing a novel for young adults, but I'm definitely interested in writing for MG.
    Hang in there.

  22. #2522
    Super Browser triceretops's Avatar
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    I got some very valuable feedback on SYW. It was pretty much dead-on, all of it. TP, thanks for all those observations. And thanks, remister for calling me on word choice and redundancy. I thought for sure I was in third limited. I'll recheck to see that I'm not straying out of it.

  23. #2523
    Super Browser triceretops's Avatar
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    Just a quick question here. I have a 1,300 word non-fiction science story entitled, The Mysteries of the La Brea Tar Pits. Now I thought I was in the realm of a picture book, which I am certainly not, which is about 500 words or so long. Then what do I have here? Is this what they call a chapter book? If not, what might this be? It's in the tone of the picture book generation--an easy read.

  24. #2524
    I aim to misbehave Myrealana's Avatar
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    At my son's urging, I started a Middle Grade book, but I got lost somewhere in the middle.

    He really wants me to go back and finish it, so I might have to do that after I get my current adult novel off to the editor.
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  25. #2525
    THE EXPLORERS is out now!! Toothpaste's Avatar
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    triceretops - glad we could be of help! When it comes to third limited, you are basically telling the story from one character's point of view, it's almost like writing in first person. There were some things in you first chapter, descriptions of other characters, that were done in such a way that the main character wouldn't think that/know that about them. Mostly though, when one is just going about one's day to day life one doesn't narrate one's life as, "Triceretops, the leader of their gang, was walking down the street in front." That's too distant. You wouldn't think that about yourself. At most you'd think, "Triceretops had decided he was the leader, and looking around as the others followed him he could tell they agreed." See the difference? Maybe try writing the chapter in first person just to see how that would change the perspective and then make it third limited after that?

    As to your other story, again this isn't something someone can just answer without reading it. Also non-fiction is a totally different beast. I don't know it very well but I don't think it has the same categories. Like I would think short factual books that are used to teach kids something aren't called "chapter books". Might be time to do some research about writing non-fiction for kids.

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