Today I'm pleased to present a guest post from Stephanie Faris! Ms. Faris is the author of the MG books 30 Days of No Gossip, 25 Roses, and the upcoming Best. Night. Ever. (Written with six other authors!), which releases August 25th.
Here we go!
Understanding Middle Grade
by Stephanie Faris
The first two books I ever sold were in the middle grade genre. Prior to that, I’d only written fiction about adults, but the tween age group was the perfect fit for my voice, I felt. Even when I wrote adult fiction, I preferred lighthearted comedies over dark thrillers or mysteries.
In 2015, I attempted my first chapter book after reading a stack of Junie B. Jones and Magic Tree House novels. As I immersed myself in the world of a seven-year-old, I gained an all new perspective on the 13-year-old characters I create in my middle grade books. Here are a few essential differences I’ve noticed.
Tweens Are in Limbo
There’s something frustrating about being a preteen. You’re not quite at the “dating” stage, but you’re not satisfied with lollipops and Santa Claus, either. I’ve found in middle grade, it’s mostly about friends. Characters may have crushes, but the biggest conflicts in their lives relate to the various dramas they experience among their same-sex peers. In chapter books, friendship dramas are less sophisticated. A girl’s best friend may get mad at her over a silly thing, but it won’t seem as earth-shattering as it feels in a middle grade book.
Parents Are Secondary Characters
Parents also play a limbo-style role in MG. They’re often very present in chapter books and not present at all in YA. In MG, they come and go, usually taking a backburner to the characters’ peers. In more literary or darker MG, they may play a much bigger role, though, sometimes even serving as the source of the main character’s conflict.
Worlds Are Bigger
Compared to YA and adult fiction, MG characters lead fairly sheltered lives. They can’t drive yet, so their world is limited to their home, school, and friends’ houses. If they want to hang out with friends, a parent probably has to drive them unless they’re in a small enough town to ride a bike. For chapter book characters, that world shrinks even farther.
There are many different age groups in children’s fiction, each very unique. Sometimes reading books for other age groups can give us an appreciation for what we’re writing. In the end, though, we’re all very lucky to be able to writing books that connect with kids, whatever age they are!
Awesome post! And thank you so much to Ms. Faris for participating in this event! :)
Author bio: Stephanie Faris knew she wanted to be an author from a very young age. In fact, her mother often told her to stop reading so much and go outside and play with the other kids. After graduating from Middle Tennessee State University she somehow found herself working in information technology. But she never stopped writing. When she isn’t crafting fiction, Stephanie is indulging her gadget geek side by writing for online technology sites. Her work is regularly featured on a wide variety of blogs and websites, both under her own name and as a ghostwriter. She lives in Nashville with her husband, Neil.
Here are a few links: