Tag Archives: Middle Grade

11.Bonus-02: Horrifying the Children, with Darren Shan

Darren Shan, whose name you might know from Cirque du Freak (or any of fifty other books,) joined Howard, and Dan, and Steve Diamond at the World Horror Convention for a discussion about writing horror for children and young adults. We talk about which lines his publishers didn’t want him to cross, how he first became drawn to the horror genre, and then we dig into how the “safe scare” of horror can be constructed.

Credits: This episode was mastered by Alex Jackson, and was made possible by the generous support of the GenCon Indy Writer’s Symposium, and the Writing Excuses patrons at Patreon.

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Think back to your own childhood, and write up one of your young fears into a story.

The Thin Executioner, by Darren Shan

11.33: Crossover Fiction, with Victoria Schwab

Victoria Schwab, who also writes as V.E. Schwab, joined us in Phoenix to talk about crossover fiction—in this context the term means books that target a given demographic but which have a much broader appeal, or books which straddle the line between age demographics.

We discuss some good crossover examples, and how some of the boundaries work, and then we cover some of the techniques we use when writing crossover works.

 

Credits: this episode was recorded live at Phoenix Comic Con by Jeff Cools, and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Write a story about a book that cannot be read until you are dead.

Ghost Talkers, by Mary Robinette Kowal, and also narrated by Mary

Writing Excuses 8.25: Middle Grade with E.J. Patten

Eric Patten joins us for a cast on Middle Grade fiction. His series, The Hunter Chronicles (Return to Exile and The Legend Thief have both been released) is delightful.

As Dan points out, there’s no faster way to start an argument among publishers, editors, and authors than to ask them to define “middle grade.” That said, Brandon’s definition is pretty helpful. Paraphrasing:

Middle Grade books are those which a school librarian gives to a child, rather than the child buying it for him or herself.

Nevertheless, we argue a bit about the fuzzy line between YA and Middle Grade, and we recount where we were getting our books at that age.

Eric talks to us about how he writes Middle Grade, and how it differs from writing YA, specifically with regard to the process of change. We cover some of the escapist elements, and how they differ between the age groups. We also talk about simplifying things without “dumbing them down.” Eric’s Return to Exile comes in at 115,000 words, which is more than twice what most Middle Grade books weigh in at.

Production Trivia: While this was not the last one recorded, this episode is the last one to air from our 2012 mega-session. Back in May of 2012 we recorded forty-plus episodes in the course of five days. Our hope is to never, never do that again…

Episode What Now? (Yes, yes… the number that Mary says at the beginning of this episode is not the one that this episode actually uses. Producer Jordo and byline-writer Howard disagreed on the episode order, and Howard neglected to tell Jordo that he’d made a snap decision while wielding admin access…)

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Write a Middle Grade book with a four-year-old protagonist.

The Red Pyramid, by Rick Riordan, narrated by Kevin R. Free and Katherine Kellgren

Writing Excuses 5.14: Visual Components of Novels with Scott Westerfeld

Scott Westerfeld joins Brandon and Howard for a discussion of the visual components of novels. His novel Leviathan is set in an alternate history 1914, and is designed to look like a book from 1914, complete with illustrations. Keith Thompson designed the art to look like period art, and it adds a significant dimension to the book.

Brandon talks about how he employed these same principles in The Way of Kings, which has in-world maps and in-world illustrations throughout its thousand pages. And of course Howard points how these things apply in the illustration-dependent Schlock Mercenary.

We move into a discussion of how the illustrations affect both the publication process and the storytelling, and how things like deck-plans and engineering diagrams feed back into the story.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Leviathan, by Scott Westerfeld, narrated by Alan Cumming

Writing Prompt: Draw the floor plan of the house or building you’re in. Knock out a wall, and write an action scene involving that.

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Writing Excuses 4.10: Writing for Young Adults

Jessica Day George joins the Writing Excuses crew again, this time for a discussion of writing for young adults, and maybe for teens, or even middle-grade readers. This isn’t a podcast about rigidly defining the boundary between the YA and middle-grade genres, though. That’s publishing. We’re talking about writing.

If you enjoyed last week’s discussion with the sweeping generalizations and the appropriate application thereof, this ‘cast should be every bit as intriguing. What are teenagers interested in, and how is that different from what interests adults? Do stories need to be simplified for teenagers, or are we underestimating them when we do that? How does the age of your protagonist determine the age-group to whom your publisher will market the book? Why is it genre-appropriate for Dumbledore to repeatedly withhold crucial information from Harry, Hermione, and Ron?

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Dragon’s Blood by Jane Yolen, because a pit-fighting dragon is way cooler than the dragons of Christopher Paolini.

Writing Prompt: Take a protagonist younger than about 16 and put him or her in charge of a group of adults.

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.

Visit http://AudiblePodcast.com/excuse for a free trial membership*.

*Note: From the Audible website, here are the terms of the free membership. Read the fine print, please!

Audible® Free Trial Details
Get your first 14 days of the AudibleListener® Gold membership plan free, which includes one audiobook credit. After your 14 day trial, your membership will renew each month for just $14.95 per month so you can continue to receive one audiobook credit per month plus members-only discounts on all audio purchases. A very small number of titles are more than one credit. Cancel your membership before your free trial period is up and you will not be charged. Thereafter, cancel anytime, effective the next billing cycle. Any unused audiobook credits will be lost at cancellation.

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