Thursday, October 27, 2011

The ABC's of Middle Grade: A is for Adventure

A middle grade book without adventure. Well, that's just..... boring, wouldn't you say? More importantly, that's what I believe middle grade readers would say. Characters and point of view and all those other five thousand writerly things are important, but that feeling of "Ohhhhh, I'm on an ADVENTURE!" is the hook of a great middle grade book.

Adventure can mean countless things to a middle grade reader. A faraway place, a time in the past or the future, creeping into the creepy neighbor's house, a leaf with a message on it, almost getting caught at something, or crawling in a tunnel in the backyard (or five thousand other things). Whatever the adventure is, when you write middle grade, you must (MUST!) take your readers on an adventure.

I heard Lois Lowry (!!) speak last March (she knows a thing or two about writing for kids), and she said when she begins a story, she introduces characters and immediately places those characters into conflict.

That, more than any other thing I've heard or read about middle grade writing, has echoed around and around my brain. As I'm readying my manuscript for querying *quivers in boots* (querying is an adventure all its own, huh?), I'm starting with adventure. Does my story have it? Does my story have enough of it?

Let's discuss: In what ways do you keep the adventure flowing in your story? And how do you balance adventure with the other parts of writing?

10 comments:

  1. Great post! (The A graphic is so cute!) One way to keep the adventure flowing is to make sure every chapter ends with a question or conflict. That way the reader wants to turn the page and continue. Plus having conflict at the end of every chapter makes me, as the writer, watch to make sure I have enough conflict and Adventure.

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  2. It's always about the adventure for me, MG or YA! :D Good luck with the querying. You can do it!!

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  3. Good advice. I like the idea of introducing conflict early in a story too.

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  4. I agree with what Lois said (and I'm so jealous you got to hear her speak!).

    Querying truly is a stress-inducing endeavor. I wish you tons of good luck!

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  5. I'd love to hear Lois speak. I agree that especially for MG the story has to have lots of adventure. Good luck with querying.

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  6. Jennifer, conflict at the end of every chapter, I'll be checking that again and again in my revisions! Excellent way of infusing the adventure.

    My querying is still MONTHS away, but thank you to all for the well wishes!

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  7. Whenever I'm writing my novel and I feel bored myself, I immediately cut that bit and skip on to the next part, because I'm sure it's lacking in adventure.

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  8. Lois Lowry is one of my heroes.

    I love how you pointed out how "adventure can mean countless things to a middle grade reader." Spot on!

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  9. (*Sighs*) Lois Lowry. That must have been amazing. Although Richard Peck was very cool.

    Excellent point about adventure in MG. I think my first novel didn't have any real adventure until the last few chapters. So now I've included it from the start and I'm trying to end every chapter on some kind of mini cliff-hanger.

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  10. Joanne, I've set several MS's aside too because the adventure just wasn't there. There was a story, just no adventure. The mine cliff-hangers at the end of chapter is a strong part of MG writing, I think.

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