So you thought the picture book crowd was tough well, the middle grade critics are pretty hardcore too.
To me, the middle grade market is sort of like the middle sibling, growing in between their younger sister the picture book, and their older brother the young adult, and just like everyone else they want to have a chance to tell their story too.
So here‘s what I’ve found you need to do, when getting to know your Middle grade book.
Know your target group: The middle grade group usually range between 8-12 years old.
Know your word count: This is a tough one because there are many conflicting answers out there, so please take this info as a guide. I guess, because this target age group can be divided between ages 7-10 and 8-12 years old, it can be harder to pin it down. But you’re looking at between 20,000 and 35,000 words, the upper middle grade book can range between 40,000-55,000 which can resemble the YA book obviously with a much less adult theme.
know your voice: Writing for, or indeed as a ten year old child, when you’ve lived for more than a couple of decades in this world, can be more than a little daunting at first. But if that’s who you are trying to depict, getting that voice down is paramount. So begin to think about what it felt like to be a kid of this age, listen to what kids are saying, your families kids, friends who have kids, watch kids shows, find out what they’re talking about. Granted it may not be anything you can use directly, but its perfect research!
Know your books: I would highly recommend that you find out what this age group are reading, what type of stories are out there, and how other people are writing them. It will not only help in your own writing, but give you some well earned rest bite as well.
Know your characters: Who are they? Can your target age group relate to them? What makes the reader want to know more about who they are?
Know your audience: As highlighted in the intro, the middle grade person can be challenging to explore, because they’re still at the beginnings of breaking out of their shell and becoming their own person. I’ll give you a great example: My sisters friends kid who’s nine was overheard talking about ‘Boobs’ to her friends, which I decided to make reference to in a short story for this age group. I never used that word but I definitely alluded to the fact this girl was ‘growing up’. Let’s just say it went down like a ton of bricks, when I showed it to one very freaked out editor. What I’m trying to say is that this group are still learning about who they are, so leave the risky ‘Boob’ talk for the young adults to explore. Goodness knows I’m will be in future lol!
Here are some of my favourite middle grade books are ‘Wonder’ by R.J Palaciao, ‘The black queen’ Michael Morpurgo, ‘How to train a dragon’ Cressida Cowell, and a lot of stuff by Jacqueline wilson.
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What are your favourite middle grade books?