Question about giving feedback on a MG manuscript

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Woollybear

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Hiya.

Are there differences in the style of description, character, sentence length, paragraph length, complexity, etc that a person should strive for in MG compared to adult?

I know the answer must be yes, but I guess what I'm hoping for is a little clarity on how to adjust my beta feedback for a MG manuscript. I mostly read adult, and I'm worried my feedback will be toward more complexity in the storyline and so on. I worry that I will give feedback that is not appropriate for a MG novel. But, I also know that kids are smart.

So I think I stand a good chance of screwing up this beta feedback in one way or another! :)

I'm hoping you all can give me some pointers on the sorts of differences you'd expect from a beta reader on a MG manuscript compared to an adult one.

Thanks!
 
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Bufty

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All I can contribute here, Patty, is that I believe middle grade readers want to believe what they read, don't want to be talked down to, and want the story to keep moving. I'm not sure that complexity is an issue per se provided they can follow the story.

And the reader is usually considered to be a year or two below the mc.

Not much help, I'm afraid. I myself am on the receiving end. :flag:
 
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mccardey

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Best thing (unless you're prepared to do a quick reading course in very current MG) would be to explain to the writer that you can't crit on MG suitability because you don't know current trends, so you'll only be able to crit on the other aspects of it.

It's really the writer's task to make sure the WiP is going to suitable readers. They might already be perfectly au fait with current MG, but be looking to you for plot, grammar, typos, characters, compulsivity or coffee and sympathy.

As long as they know what you can and can't provide, your feedback will still be very useful.
 
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Woollybear

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These are both very helpful answers. Thank you. I will take the plunge and do my best and be certain to repeat in my feedback that I'm not a heavy reader of MG.
 

neandermagnon

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Complexity of the plot isn't so much of an issue. It's more whether the subject matter is something a child can relate to.

Also, maybe read some MG books. I don't get much time to read but still manage to raid my kids' bookshelves as they're not usually particularly long reads. If you're the sort of person who can read books really quickly (I'm not, due to dyslexia) you can probably read one in an afternoon.
 

Putputt

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I would qualify the crit with a disclaimer that you don't read much MG so can't comment on much of the MG-specific aspects, but you can still critique the usual stuff: the writing itself, character development, structure, plot holes, world building inconsistencies and so on!
 

Woollybear

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Thank you all.

Does middle grade tend to use a greater narrative distance than YA and A? Or tighter, or the same?

Probably variable, right? Still, is an omniscient narrator more sought after in MG than in other categories? The author wants to query the manuscript and I have a feeling that we should feel a closer third (since I see agents requesting it for YA/A) but that's a ton of work to switch, especially for a first novel, and maybe MG doesn't have that same push for close third.

??
 

Putputt

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I see more instances of omni PoV in MG, including stories where the omni narrator even makes little jokes or remarks about the story as it unfolds. I love those. I also enjoy close third and first person. It all really just depends on the execution. I would be cautious about giving industry advice because 1. You're not familiar with the age category, and 2. Agents often say they want X, but by the time we write X, the trend has moved on to Y, and so on and so forth, so it's kind of a risky thing to change an entire book for. Again, if it's just objectively bad due to poor execution, that's a whole different story.
 

Woollybear

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Thank you. I could only think of one example--very glad to hear some experience here.
 

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