Saturday, August 27, 2011

HELP! What do you write and how do you know it's a good fit?

So I've been writing this middle grade book... (it's called Parasite's Don't Wear Pink--about an only child adjusting to the idea of having a sibling)  and I love it.  The word count over there is creeping up and I'm almost done with my first draft!  Huzzah!    

I like writing from this eighth grade perspective, because it was a big year for me--I think it was the first time I tried to figure out who I was/wanted to be...(this happens every few years or so).

I'm enjoying it so much, but I don't know if I'm getting it right.   So how do you know?

Here's what I've done so far...

1) I have read a million middle grade contemporary books. I love upper middle grade, it's just fun.

2).  Researched writing MG through blogs, etc.

3.) I'm trying to find a few MG crit partners... (If you need a CRIT PARTNER and you write or read MG, let me know, because I'm still searching...)

When I wrote Etched in Glass...I thought I'd always do YA, but I've had so many ideas lately that just seem like they'd work better for an MG audience... the problem is...I've heard so much about nailing an MG voice and how hard it is... so how do you know??

Why did you pick what you write?

Do you switch it up?

How can you tell it's working?

Seriously I need to know.


  1. It's funny~ I tried writing YA, but I couldn't get the YA voice. It's just not as much fun as writing MG for me. I don't know that I get the MG voice right either :) It's all about doing the reading and practice, practice, practice (feedback, feedback, feedback). Plus I have a 13-year-old boy in the house who gives me a little insight. Critique partners are great for letting you know if something feels right to an outsider. All 8-12-year-olds are different, so there's plenty of room for different voices within the category. Genre can make a difference too. After you've written enough duds, it gets easier to see when you've got something special working :) I remember your query from Becky Wallace's query critique and WriteOnCon. The story sounds spot-on for contemporary MG!

  2. I think you can tell because you love it so much and you're having fun with it. With Etched in Glass, you seemed to be getting kind of tired of it. Also, I think your voice sounds pretty good in Parasites. (I swear I'll get that crit back to you...this has been a bad summer for getting things done.)

  3. Uhh... listen to your gut? For me, I know if I've gotten something right when I just know.

    That is a non-answer, but it's really hard to put a feeling into words. I think you have to write the best book you can, give it to objective people, and then make it better. And better. And better...

  4. Good questions!

    I think we always know if what we're writing isn't quite working. I mean, we don't think we know, but when we look at it, we don't think, "This one is ready to go!" We think, "Time to go to crit group with this." So you know, even if you don't think you do.

    And switching things up is a good idea. I'm working on a Chapter Book that started as a lower-MG novel, then became a CB, then back to a novel again, then back to a CB, and now I'm trying it in third person instead of first person and I'm getting a whole new spin on the story that I think is much better.

    You're doing the right thing by reading tons of MG and looking for crit partners. Just listen to your gut - if you have doubts, then try switching it up for a chapter or two and see if it's working better. Or even if it isn't, it might give you something that you can come back to this current version with to make it better.

    The other thing you need is distance. Put it away for a while, read a ton of MG, then get it out again and read it out loud to yourself.

    And of course, the only way to *really* know that a manuscript is working is to query it and see what response you get. That's the last step, though.

    Good luck with it!