What's the difference between Upper MG and Lower MG?

editing_for_authors
Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

The Second Moon

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 12, 2018
Messages
3,288
Reaction score
258
Website
mimistromauthor.com
I wrote an MG linked short story collection and I don't know if it is Upper MG or Lower. My ideas in the book are generally goofy, like a clone of the president who thinks he's a goat and just all around goofiness. There are also a good bunch emotional parts like are needed in all books.

So what's the difference between Lower and Upper MG? Is it theme, age of the MC(s), syntax, how goofy it is? I just don't know.

Sorry if this is confusing. I'm just having a hard time figuring this out.
 

Dan Rhys

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Sep 1, 2019
Messages
186
Reaction score
13
Location
Los Angeles, CA
Website
www.facebook.com
From what I know, there seems to be a theme/subject matter basis for it. Essentially, the more comical and less intense it is, the closer to lower grade, but if it addresses more serious issues, say depression following bullying, it would be more upper grade. I am going only on my experiences of teaching and what little I've read, though. Someone may be able to give more insight. Based on what you have mentioned about your writing, it sounds lower grade.
 

Bufty

Where have the last ten years gone?
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
May 9, 2005
Messages
16,763
Reaction score
4,642
Location
Scotland
I'm honestly not sure exactly myself but presume it's a mixture of content and manner of execution.

Content for Upper Middle Grade - aimed at readers say between 8/9 and 12 - , I think, would exclude sex and gratuitous violence. Execution to me would cover structure, language and word choice -not childish.

I believe Middle Grade readers usually read about characters a year or two above their age but I doubt any MC would exceed 12. But who wouldn't read a story with a Grandpa as the main character?:Hug2:

That said, nothing preventing you completely going against all of the above. As I said- it all depends upon content and execution.

I wonder if parents probably buy the vast bulk of Middle Grade Books - or Lower Middle Grade at least - to get their children reading.

Who are you writing for? Who do you think would enjoy reading your story?

And in the publishing world, hopefully someone reckons the result is worth publishing.

I look forward to responses from others with more experience and knowledge.
 
Last edited:

The Second Moon

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 12, 2018
Messages
3,288
Reaction score
258
Website
mimistromauthor.com
Thank you everyone. I used to think it was Upper MG, just because of my MC's age (11) but now I think it's Lower MG because of the silliness.

Other people's advice is still welcome, for I'm still slightly debating what it is.
 

Kat M

Ooh, look! String!
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jan 4, 2019
Messages
857
Reaction score
241
Location
Puget Sound
Late to the ballgame. I don't know about industry standards, let's be really clear. This is my experience as a reader.

Your story idea reminds me of Terry Pratchett, who tended to write for older readers. You can tell he wrote for older readers because he had more sophisticated humor and would bring in ideas and themes that were a little more mature. However, his work is still goofy and hilarious. The samples of writing I've read tend to sound more lower middle-grade, and the only reason I can give is that the voice sounds similar to what I read to my second graders.

From this, I'm guessing—I could be wrong—yours could go either way with a bit of tweaking. Which do you want to write?
 

The Second Moon

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 12, 2018
Messages
3,288
Reaction score
258
Website
mimistromauthor.com
Late to the ballgame. I don't know about industry standards, let's be really clear. This is my experience as a reader.

Your story idea reminds me of Terry Pratchett, who tended to write for older readers. You can tell he wrote for older readers because he had more sophisticated humor and would bring in ideas and themes that were a little more mature. However, his work is still goofy and hilarious. The samples of writing I've read tend to sound more lower middle-grade, and the only reason I can give is that the voice sounds similar to what I read to my second graders.

From this, I'm guessing—I could be wrong—yours could go either way with a bit of tweaking. Which do you want to write?

No. Not late at all. Thanks for your input.

I don't know if I want it to be Lower or Upper. I think Lower will appeal to my humor better, but my first book is long, around 49,000 words. That might put me in the Upper MG category.
 

Kat M

Ooh, look! String!
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jan 4, 2019
Messages
857
Reaction score
241
Location
Puget Sound
Well, who do you imagine reading your book?
 

The Second Moon

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 12, 2018
Messages
3,288
Reaction score
258
Website
mimistromauthor.com
Well, who do you imagine reading your book?

That's my problem, I don't know.

But, either today or on Thursday I'll be presenting the first short story of Barney and Mr. Thomas to my creative writing class:eek:. I'll ask them about if it sounds Upper or Lower.
 

neandermagnon

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Oct 25, 2014
Messages
4,618
Reaction score
1,239
Location
Dorset, UK
Website
cavepeopleandstuff.wordpress.com
I think you're worrying too much about the categories. Labels like MG and YA are made by publishers and bookshops to label the books for their most likely target audience. Because not everything fits neatly into categories and age categories are very wide and also have to encompass children of the same age and different reading levels, you end up getting categories within categories. And to make things even more complicated, the categories aren't even the same on each side of the Atlantic. MG isn't even a thing in the UK. Best advice would be to write the story you want to write the way you want to write it and if you're not sure if it's technically lower or upper MG, just call it MG. Maybe it's smack in the middle of the MG category, so you don't need to worry if it's upper or lower. Upper and lower are for those books that kind of fall close to the boundaries of other age ranges.

There are other books that don't fall neatly into an age category. For example The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams. The MC is 12 and at secondary school so from that point of view it ought to be in the Teen category (UK has different categories and secondary school age = teen) however the voice and way it's written is more like books for primary school kids. I would say it's more of a primary age book (age 8-11) than teen. But I know that primary school teachers read to their classes and I wouldn't be surprised if it's read by secondary school kids as well as primary school kids. Anyway, in spite of not fitting neatly in the age categories, it's an extremely successful book that's been made into a CBBC film.
 

Featured Book