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Thread: All Things Middle Grade

  1. #2451
    Fearsome Dragon Mod AW Moderator jvc's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forum and the kidlit gang, CottonChops.
    Jed.

    There comes a time in your life when you just have to run outside and shout 'banana' as loud as you can. Are you there yet?


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  2. #2452
    New fish; Swimming with the current Supergirlofnc's Avatar
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    It's great to meet you CottonChops!

    I researched agents and signed with mine after an email query. I will say he emailed me back about 4 minutes after I sent the query and asked for the ms. I thought my message had bounced back for a moment. I guess we were in sync that day!

  3. #2453
    practical experience, FTW CheG's Avatar
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    Cottonchops- ALL agents wish you luck. It's part of the rejection form letter. It varies a tiny bit from agent to agent but that's all.

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    Carmine Rojas available now
    Carmine Rojas: Dog Fight is---'An explosive mix of gangsters, guns, monsters, magic and mayhem, with dark and gritty action that right-hooks you from page one. Wonderful!' --- Suzanne McLeod, author of the Spellcrackers urban fantasy series.

  4. #2454
    Welcome, CottonChops!
    HEDGEPIGGLING ALONG

  5. #2455
    Hero, villain, angel, demon AW Moderator Sage's Avatar
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    Most agents try to send nice rejections. Occasionally there's a curt reply, but even the form rejects try to be civil.

    Hero/Villain: Fixing, thanks to betas
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  6. #2456
    SchriteFallow CottonChops MacGee's Avatar
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    Thanks everybody. I figured "courtesy" was usually part of the deal. I was more interested in everyone else's tales if they had any though. Especially if anyone had some interesting feedback with helpful info on it.

  7. #2457
    OUTCAST is out now!!!! Toothpaste's Avatar
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    What exactly are you looking for by way of "helpful info"? I tried my best with my response to you, was that what you were looking for or something else? Honestly at the querying stage it's all pretty standard, most experiences are similar: lots of rejection, form responses, the occasional personalised rejection, and some requests for fulls.

    It might help if you asked specific questions of us .

  8. #2458
    practical experience, FTW CheG's Avatar
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    I have very little in the way of anything hopeful to contribute to querying anecdotes.

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    Carmine Rojas available now
    Carmine Rojas: Dog Fight is---'An explosive mix of gangsters, guns, monsters, magic and mayhem, with dark and gritty action that right-hooks you from page one. Wonderful!' --- Suzanne McLeod, author of the Spellcrackers urban fantasy series.

  9. #2459
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Hello,

    I finally registered after reading through the Middle Grade posts for a while now. My background is in business writing and online content but children's fiction is my true love. About a year ago I wrote a junior fiction (lower middle grade) book for my daughter as a Xmas gift because I couldn't find any published books with a main character that shared her name. I enjoyed the process so much that I decided to edit it and send it to some publishers. I received really good feedback and got to the final selection stage with one publisher but in the end they decided that it wasn't strong enough for their list. The publisher encouraged me to try something else and send it in to her, so I have been working on a new idea for about 3 months now.

    My new WIP is a longer book (about 50,000) for older readers, my main characters are 11 and 12. I'm at 43,000 words now and am suddenly having a crisis of confidence!

    The book now is different to the book I started with in chapter one and now I'm worried that I have a confused story. It was originally quite whimsical but towards the last 1/2 to 1/4 of the book there are some more complex issues that come into play and now it's taken a more serious tone.

    I have a couple of questions for you that may help me -

    How many characters is too many? I know in Harry Potter for example there are quite a few when you include the teachers, but I'm worried I have too many minor stories going on that could distract the reader.

    I have my main character (11yr old girl), her best friend (12 yr old boy), main character's parents, an elderly man who is central to the story, a villain character, and a woman who lives in the town who is tied to the mother with a minor story line.

    My other question relates to structure - how closely do you follow the "rules" about where to put plot points etc.? For this book I've tried to loosely follow a plot structure plan but I find it really restricts my creativity and stops the flow of my writing.

    I think I just need to finish it and then go back and do a serious edit before my beta readers look at it, and maybe look at how the structure fits then.

  10. #2460
    practical experience, FTW heza's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BecMountainBlue
    The book now is different to the book I started with in chapter one and now I'm worried that I have a confused story. It was originally quite whimsical but towards the last 1/2 to 1/4 of the book there are some more complex issues that come into play and now it's taken a more serious tone.
    A lot of people, especially early on in learning the craft, sort of drift in and out of different styles and voices while they're trying to find their own. It's normal. And a lot of times, we do end up with a different book than what we thought we started with. So that's all normal. What you do, then, is revise the book and rewrite the parts that don't match so that you have a consistent style and voice throughout. It's okay for a book to start light and get heavier, but if the first half has a lot of whimsy and humor, you do want to make sure you've carried some of that through to the end. If you think things have gotten confused, try creating an outline from your draft. Maybe it will help you see what belongs or doesn't or where a story thread has gone wonky.

    How many characters is too many? I know in Harry Potter for example there are quite a few when you include the teachers, but I'm worried I have too many minor stories going on that could distract the reader.

    I have my main character (11yr old girl), her best friend (12 yr old boy), main character's parents, an elderly man who is central to the story, a villain character, and a woman who lives in the town who is tied to the mother with a minor story line.
    Each story is going to be different, and no one can really tell you (short of having like 200 characters or something) if you have too many without reading the story. I think this is a case where you need to find some beta readers and let them see if they're confused or distracted by too many side plots. But from what you've indicated here, this does not seem like too many characters for an upper MG story.

    My other question relates to structure - how closely do you follow the "rules" about where to put plot points etc.? For this book I've tried to loosely follow a plot structure plan but I find it really restricts my creativity and stops the flow of my writing.
    Well, there are a lot of different rule sets and methods for structure that you could try. I've enjoyed books that follow a strict structure, books that seem loosely based on a structure, and books that seem to just meander around all over. It just depends on the story and the way it's written.

    For my part, I was meandering and needed to start applying some structure. What I was ending up with was just scene after only vaguely related scene and it wasn't going anywhere. So I started trying to follow the structure laid out in Save the Cat!. At first, I felt really confined. It was nice to be putting things into more of an actual story format, but I also felt like I had to remove a lot of my subplots and important events because they didn't fit the structure as I saw it. But recently, I've been looking at examples where people have taken popular stories and shown where the structure is (in Save the Cat!, it's called a Beat Sheet). Those examples showed me that within each "beat" (your catalyst, your turning point, etc), there's actually a lot more happening than I thought there could be, like all the named parts of the story are really just containers around smaller stories that serve larger purposes in the overall plot. So I'm looking at putting some of my other plots back in, now. So maybe you could look at some examples of popular works plotted out or experiment with what you can do within the structure you're using. Some people just use structure as a guideline.

    But yeah, it does sound like a lot of your questions could only be answered (beyond just theoretically) by a good beta. These things can't really be taken in isolation.

    Good luck though. I understand your frustration.
    WIPs

    Untitled <-- Supernatural MG (drafting)
    Tobias Tinker <-- Clockpunk MG (on hold)
    Freak Town <-- Paranormal YA (on hold)
    Huntington House <-- Paranormal YA (on hold)




  11. #2461
    practical experience, FTW CheG's Avatar
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    Is it me or are "talking animals" making a comeback? I stumbled across The Mismantle Chronicles at the library the other day and Tor has a "grimdark Redwall" novella thingie coming out. But why are they all in Medieval times?

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    Carmine Rojas: Dog Fight is---'An explosive mix of gangsters, guns, monsters, magic and mayhem, with dark and gritty action that right-hooks you from page one. Wonderful!' --- Suzanne McLeod, author of the Spellcrackers urban fantasy series.

  12. #2462
    figuring it all out Leema's Avatar
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    Hello all!

    My interest is YA, but I have a MG idea so found my way into this thread. Trying to read some of the MG books I've accrued on my bookshelf to get in the zone. It'll probably be my NaNo project.

  13. #2463
    New fish; Swimming with the current Supergirlofnc's Avatar
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    Welcome to the MG thread Leema! Nice to meet you

  14. #2464
    figuring it all out Leema's Avatar
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    Awesome podcast from Australian Writers Centre with an interview with Andy Griffiths:

    http://www.writerscentre.com.au/ep-67/

  15. #2465
    Alas, poor Yorick, he fed me 'nanas DavidBrett's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CheG View Post
    Is it me or are "talking animals" making a comeback? I stumbled across The Mismantle Chronicles at the library the other day and Tor has a "grimdark Redwall" novella thingie coming out. But why are they all in Medieval times?
    I've noticed that too - not that I'm complaining, particularly, as the Redwall series was a huge staple of my teenage reading life, couldn't get enough. Not so sure we need a "grimdark" variation, though... Redwall was that perfect balance of beauty and grim, the contrast complimenting each. To focus on the darker side purely for "gritty" reasons seems unnecessary, in my humble opinion. I might still give it a try, though.

    As for why they're all medieval ... I think the setting lends itself perfectly to an anthro novel; again, a perfect balance of fantasy that's also grounded enough in historical events and life to lend that extra bit of humanity to the animal characters. They become more believable as people because of that balance, going through struggles humans of the time also experienced rather than overly-fantastical scenarios few would be able to relate to.

    But hey! If you're suggesting we should have someone write the next "Bucky O'Hare", then I say go for it!

    Dave
    Mr Stuffenfluff - My FIRST attempt at horror for over a decade. Feedback welcome!

    Authors warn me writing children's books is a lot of work - signings, school events, literary festivals, a blog, etc. I always reply "I WANT THAT!"

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  16. #2466
    practical experience, FTW CheG's Avatar
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    DavidBrett- I'm a big fan of anything with talking mice! So I'm hoping to come up with a plot for tiny wizard mice I started drawing last year. I thought they would be almost unsellable so I never put much effort into them. But now I'm thinking there might be room for yet MORE mice! I'm glad to see a bit of rekindled interest in talking animals!

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    Carmine Rojas available now
    Carmine Rojas: Dog Fight is---'An explosive mix of gangsters, guns, monsters, magic and mayhem, with dark and gritty action that right-hooks you from page one. Wonderful!' --- Suzanne McLeod, author of the Spellcrackers urban fantasy series.

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