The masses continue to speak.
I think both genres are a challenge because we have to nail everything in only so many pages while competing with all the distractions teens and tweens have these days.
I think YA draws a lot on romantic elements (if not romance outright) and coming of age, which done well, is poignant and heart-breaking. Upper Middle grade seems to be smarter sometimes, to me, because the protags aren’t distracted by hormones.
Part of the challenge of writing MG, IMHO, is that it is pure storytelling – no sex and violence and internal endless monologue and angst to drive the story along.
So having a compelling story, and getting that wide-eyed innocence right in the MC and the tone just right … I think there’s a reason there aren’t a lot of great MG books. They really are difficult to write.
I agree with Susan, a good MG book has to focus on the story. And like Andrea said, we can’t let our adult life experiences muddle up the writing. I guess the key is to channel our inner tween and go for it!
And agent Jill Corcoran speaks her mind about middle grade on her blog. Read the comments to see other writers’ favorite middle grade. (And no, we didn’t coordinate posts.)
The book that always pops up in my mind when thinking of original middle grade with great storytelling is Holes by Louis Sachar. Yes, I love all the oldies too . Well, okay, truth time – I’ve never read The Giver. I can’t get past the creepy old guy on the cover. Or the title. I think I opened and read the first page and still put it back on the shelf. That’s three strikes. But since so many people love it, I’ll eventually read it. Maybe.
So, I’ve been chilling from my first draft and soaking in middle grade. Literally. Not just reading, but reading to learn. And I’m studying great mg mysteries (hard to find), because I got a hankerin’ to write one. So, I have a pretty big to-be-read pile. It’s enormous. Teetering on my dining room table. (Okay, not exactly.)
Oh, and I’m also squeezing in some great YA. (Like The Dust of a Hundred Dogs by A. S. King – which is totally awesome. I love it. In fact, I’m rushing through this post so I can floss my kids’ teeth and finish it tonight. Thanks Ansha for the “word of mouth” recommendation!)
So, I’ll end on a mini-quote from one of my readers. “Channel your inner tween and go for it!”
What’s in your TBR pile? What books have you read for pleasure that you ended up learning from too?