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Writer's Room => Chapter Books, Easy Readers, and Middle Grade (MG) => Topic started by: maxi on April 12, 2017, 07:24 AM

Title: Back story in chapter books and MG
Post by: maxi on April 12, 2017, 07:24 AM
Can anyone help on the topic of back story? I'm looking for examples of it woven into chapter books or MG. I'm teetering on where my MS fits in as it definitely crosses over, so examples from either would be great.

I don't think it would help the pace of the story to just cram it all into the first chapter as there are a series of events that took place before my MC was born. As the story progresses, MC realises that things are changing and ideally I want that to coordinate with the back story by releasing small parts of it in between chapters. At the moment, I have a continuing '11 Years Earlier' section threaded throughout.

Does this seem too complex? The chapters are short and clear so I don't think a 9-10 year old would lose the thread of the story but I'm not 9-10 and there isn't a lot of info on this out there.  :bewildered

Any thoughts would be very much appreciated :)
Title: Re: Back story in chapter books and MG
Post by: writg tchr on April 13, 2017, 07:02 AM
It seems like an "Eleven Years Earlier" thread would not fit into a chapter book, which is short and precise and focuses on one main problem/character goal/plot thread with minor subplots. A chapter book for ages 7-10 would end up around 10,000 words, 15,000 tops- according to my research.  How long  is your book? While the MC could discover what happened in the past, I don't think a chapter book would have a lot of backstory but it can certainly be woven into a MG . A young MG might have under 30,000 words (25,000-30,000?)
Just my guess here but this sounds more like MG to me.
Title: Re: Back story in chapter books and MG
Post by: Kell on April 13, 2017, 09:34 AM
That structure sounds more like MG than a chapter book to me. It's not just length but simple structure and complexity that make a chapter book. The portal framework of the Magic Tree House or Never Girls books is probably about as complex as they get.

Or maybe think about The Spiderwick Chronicles books. They are quite short but have a more complex structure and are categorized as middle grade.
Title: Re: Back story in chapter books and MG
Post by: read lisa scott on April 13, 2017, 12:28 PM
I agree that it sounds more like MG than chapter book. My editor won't let me switch POV in chapter books. They really do need to be simple for beginning readers. I can't imagine seeing that in a chapter book.
Title: Re: Back story in chapter books and MG
Post by: Debbie Vilardi on April 16, 2017, 08:57 PM
If it's at all possible to feed this information in throughout the main narrative, consider doing so. Otherwise you may find readers skipping these parts to get back to the main story. That's a concern for both chapter books and middle grade, unless these scenes are very compelling. Consider how the main character discovers the info and reacts to it. As you have it, it would have to be middle grade. Chapter book readers are still in the concrete operational phase of development. Two time periods may be too much for them to keep track of. Good luck.
Title: Re: Back story in chapter books and MG
Post by: maxi on April 17, 2017, 01:06 AM
Thanks for your replies. It would make more sense to change my thinking and start treating this MS as MG. It's 6000 words at present (I've still got a lot or work to do) and it just wouldn't have the same outcome without weaving these bits of info through. The only way I can think of to do that, is by a series of old letters that the MC finds along the way...but even that sounds more like MG, doesn't it.
Title: Re: Back story in chapter books and MG
Post by: Melody on April 17, 2017, 08:49 AM
Hi, Maxi:

I write and read MG but right now I am having a hard time finding a MG on my shelf that uses a flashback. In BECAUSE OF WINN DIXIE her father tells her about her mother's past. In the BINGO BROWN series his mother refers to the day he was born and there is a bit of time shifting in a few spots.

In general, it seems that most MGs use a straight forward time line so you are probably on the right track with weaving in past information bit by bit. Good luck with this.
Title: Re: Back story in chapter books and MG
Post by: Long Hair on April 17, 2017, 02:36 PM
I read THE THICKETY out of order, actually I skipped the first book altogether, and the back story was woven throughout the book so well that I didn't know it was the second book until I started looking for the sequel.  The back story included some info that was before her time, but most of it was her childhood and it was done so well I'm reading the third book of the series and still don't feel like I need the first book at all.