Novelist Peter Lerangis shared middle grade writing advice in front of hundreds of authors at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conference in Los Angeles earlier this month.
Lerangis has written over 160 books, including installments of The 39 Clues and The Seven Wonders series, and had plenty of advice for writing for kids aged 8 to 12 years old, the “middle grade” reading group.
This great article will help you sort through differences between middle grade and young adult fiction. “I hate numbered lists,” Lerangis declared, delivering his wisdom in alphabetically-sorted points.
Middle Grade Writing Advice from Peter Lerangis
A. Start with character always. Populate your story so that characters are driving the plot.
B. Write a killer first, a page that makes it impossible for the reader to not go on. They won’t go to page two if they don’t like page one.
C. Include romance, but only a little.
D. Provide smaller solvable problems and solve them. Fun to include personal dilemmas and little mysteries, confidence builders.
E. Never kill the dog.
F. Everybody likes a great story, but publishing likes a great story with a kick ass proposal. They don’t have a lot of time and you have to grab them the way you grab a reader on the first page.
G. When your book is published, learn to wear several hats. You are part of a team. Your publisher may not have seemed to have done much for you, but they have.