This year for NaNoWriMo I’m writing my first “official” middle grade story. Two years ago I worked on Power of the Stars which some could call MG, but because it has such a large cast with ages from 11 to 17 or so and some of the situations involved, I opted to dub it young adult. So anyhow, I’m writing this MG story with a 12 (almost 13) year old main character and I’m finding it harder to relate!
I’m often having to stop down and reword some of my dialog knowing that my characters who are young shouldn’t be saying certain things or maybe have knowledge on a specific topic. I want to have a slight bit of a budding romance to it because I love the thought of those first feelings of “OMG when did boys become cute?” I had my first boyfriend at 13 so I think it can be realistic. There won’t be full out snogging sessions or anything (Heh I love the term snogging) but I’m struggling to make it realistic with sweaty palms and tingly feelings. That’s not to say characters in a YA series don’t have those feelings, but I think by late teens, they are expected and the characters get that there’s some kind of connection there. With a younger character, the whole concept of love and relationship is very different. They’re just getting into the puberty thing and then to have those weird sensations? It’s very WTH?! for them I think.
It’s a different experience for me, but I think it will help me grow in the long run. Just like writing short stories or flash fiction, writing in different genres or for different ages can help your writing improve. Sometimes you have to take a chance and write outside your comfort zone to push your boundaries and see what you’re good or not so good at.
What do you think are important aspects to a middle grade story?