Monday, January 2, 2012

How To Write Middle Grade Fiction: Advice From My Husband

A few weeks ago my husband and I were sitting together as we often do – each of us with our own laptops, doing our own thing. I was busy writing a chapter for the second book in the Nate Rocks series: Nate Rocks the Boat. Suddenly, my husband looks up and says those seven words every writer wants to hear:

photo credit: Βethan via photo pin cc

“Make sure your second book doesn’t suck.”

Um... sure – I’ll do my best. What he actually meant was that in many series, ‘second books’ just don’t live up to the same wow factor that often accompanies first books.

I agree with the advice... the delivery, not so much – welcome to my husband’s dry sense of humor.

A few days later, when I asked him if he thought it was appropriate to use the word “heck” in a book meant for 7-12 year olds, he had more sage advice for me:

“Sure – just don’t use ...[the F-word] or ...[the P-word...meow]... especially... [the P-word.] That probably wouldn’t go over well.”

I decided to go with heck.

But seriously, it got me thinking about my writing.

In Book 1, Nate Rocks the World, I use the word “stupid.” It is used as a descriptive (This is stupid) not as an insult (You are stupid.) While no one complained, I do feel a bit like I stretched the ‘appropriateness’ boundary a bit. I don’t know, did I? Is it okay to use words like ‘stupid,’ and ‘heck’ in children’s books?

What about the F-word? No not that F-word! I’m talking about the F-word of 7-12 year olds... Fart!

In Book 2, Nate Rocks the Boat, I have a situation where one such fart takes place. Admittedly, I first wrote the scene with the following words: “A gassy sound emitted from his bottom.” What can I say, I really wanted to keep Book 2 clean. But seriously, how many kids walk around saying that? So I deleted that line and wrote, “He farted.”

When you hear your children giggling as they read the next Nate Rocks book, you’ll know why.

...and stay tuned ... my husband says he wants to write a guest post for my blog all about how to write Middle Grade Fiction. You've been warned ...

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