Monday, March 19, 2018

Five Things to Know About the Middle Grade Market


Being in the middle of wrestling with middle grade myself, I am thrilled to bring you this helpful guest post from award winning author Robyn Field. 
Five Things to Know About the Middle Grade Market

The middle grade market is my absolute favorite genre to write! There’s just something about those very first slow dances, the awkward moments between friends, the tension of growing and changing…I didn’t love these times when I was in the thick of them, but I sure do love writing about them now, and I love giving kids characters in which they can see themselves.
 If you’re also interested in the middle grade genre, here are a few things to keep in mind:
 The Age Range: Middle grade spans roughly ages 8-12, and is typically separated into lower (8-9) and upper (10-12) years. Any younger, and you’re getting into chapter books. Any older, and you’re getting into young adult.
 The Protagonist’s Age Rule: Kids this age always want to be one year older – that much closer to the much-dreamed-about teenage years! Therefore, make your protagonist one year older than your target audience. For example, if you’re target audience is age 12, make your protagonist 13. If your target audience is age 8 or 9, make your main character 10.
 Romance: To Be or Not to Be? To be! Upper middle grade readers love reading about middle school crushes, princesses getting married, or older siblings having boyfriends or girlfriends. But here’s the catch: the romance MUST be innocent, pure, and age-appropriate. Young adult is the genre in which you can dive into more deep or controversial aspects of relationships, but middle grade is the genre in which you simply celebrate the innocent joys of “tweendom” or commiserate the common awkward blushes and conversations between coming-of-age kids.
 The Tension of Growing Up: Middle grade readers are still kids, but they’re also dreaming of teen years and are headed into them quickly. No matter the plot, your middle grade protagonist should always be pulling and pushing internally with the tension that comes from growing up. For example, maybe your character is excited to go to the movies alone with her friends for the first time, but while she’s there, she secretly misses the popcorn she and her dad usually share at the movies. Kids this age want to grow up, but they also don’t want to leave security behind. This tension should always be present.
 What About Animals? You might be surprised to hear this, but in the middle grade genre, you can use animals as your characters! You must do it well, of course, and the plot certainly can’t be a picture-book type of story. Your animals must have human emotions and relationships – they MUST be relatable to your reader in the way human characters would be.
 Want More Info? The best resource I’ve come across in studying the middle grade genre is Mary Cole’s Writing Irresistible Kidlit. This book addresses word count questions, plot issues, character creation, and more – all for young adult and middle grade writers.
 Have fun, and happy writing!
 You can find Robyn and follow her writing journey over on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/robynfieldwriting/ or on her personal Christian living blog, www.fieldsofgraceblog.com . She is a 2017 Writer's Digest Writing Competition Award Winner.

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