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Genres & Age Categories => Middle Grade (MG) => Topic started by: John Lucas on June 06, 2019, 05:05 PM

Title: not sure if I'm writing CB or MG
Post by: John Lucas on June 06, 2019, 05:05 PM
I have been thinking of my book as MG, but the more I think about it, the less I'm sure.

My main character is eight years old at the time of the book's events and is looking back at it after the fact, at the age of nine. However, he is based partially on a real kid who has been classified as gifted and has a very advanced vocabulary.

It's a relatively short book, just over 24,000 words.

So I think it is somewhere in between a chapter book and an early middle grade one, but I'm not sure exactly how to classify it. And I suppose I need to be able to do so if I intend to pitch it to agents. (Which I do.)

Hmm....

I am thinking of posting it on this board for critique, but only after an edit and revision.
Title: Re: not sure if I'm writing CB or MG
Post by: David Wright on June 06, 2019, 06:17 PM
What's your expectations for pictures? Some heavily illustrated MGs are short on text.
Title: Re: not sure if I'm writing CB or MG
Post by: Debbie Vilardi on June 06, 2019, 06:35 PM
The age of your main character suggests a CB. What happens if you take out the layer of looking back on events of a year ago and make it just the main a story? It could still be straight past tense, but written from the POV of the 8 year old. I wonder if that will cut your word count.

Another thing to consider is whether you are trying too hard to stick to the real story. Sometimes this works but other times, it interferes wit the fiction. Make sure every detail serves your story and its deeper truths rather than the objective truth of what happened or who the protagonist is.

Posting for critique is a great idea once you've revised. It'll be far easier for us to help you figure out what you have when we can see it.

I hope this helps.
Title: Re: not sure if I'm writing CB or MG
Post by: John Lucas on June 07, 2019, 10:18 AM
What's your expectations for pictures? Some heavily illustrated MGs are short on text.

I am planning on it having about one illustration per chapter.
Title: Re: not sure if I'm writing CB or MG
Post by: John Lucas on June 07, 2019, 10:26 AM
Another thing to consider is whether you are trying too hard to stick to the real story. Sometimes this works but other times, it interferes wit the fiction. Make sure every detail serves your story and its deeper truths rather than the objective truth of what happened or who the protagonist is.

It’s entirely fiction.

I originally wrote it from the protagonist’s first-person POV. That proved too limiting, though, so I switched it to third person, with the odd first-person interjection, almost creating a sort of back-and-forth dynamic between the kid and the narrator. I thought that this would show that this character feels a great sense of ownership over his own story, even if someone else is telling it.

I suppose it breaks the fourth wall a little in those moments, but I’m okay with it.
Title: Re: not sure if I'm writing CB or MG
Post by: Debbie Vilardi on June 07, 2019, 08:55 PM
It’s entirely fiction.

I originally wrote it from the protagonist’s first-person POV. That proved too limiting, though, so I switched it to third person, with the odd first-person interjection, almost creating a sort of back-and-forth dynamic between the kid and the narrator. I thought that this would show that this character feels a great sense of ownership over his own story, even if someone else is telling it.

I suppose it breaks the fourth wall a little in those moments, but I’m okay with it.

That might confuse a CB reader. Can you go for a close third POV where you may have direct thought from the protagonist included in italics? I have a feeling that's what you need. Hard to say without reading some though.
Title: Re: not sure if I'm writing CB or MG
Post by: marie-dentan on June 08, 2019, 01:54 AM
A kid looking back at what happened to them is very unusual for a kid's book. Kids are in the moment, when they read, I believe they want to feel and be the character, so pulling them out of the story by reminiscing on what happened before is going to be tough to sell. Of course you might not be doing this. this is just what I got from your explanation on your story.
Why do feel the need to have an older version of the kid tell the story?
A close third can allow you to pull back to explain things you wouldn't be able to in first person, yet have the reader experience what that kid is experiencing at the time. A third person narrator, even if it is the kid himself, is more remote, and I believe more suitable for an older audience.
Title: Re: not sure if I'm writing CB or MG
Post by: Vijaya on June 08, 2019, 09:11 AM
Marie, I think John probably means the narrator is telling the story in the traditional past tense, looking back over the recent past. But also, flashbacks are common in MG and not an issue for the reader.

A nine-yr-old is solidly in the MG category, on the younger side. CBs tend to have just one plot thread and the language tends to be simpler and the illustrations are there to support the reader. Although there's overlap between these categories, look at some of the shorter MG books like A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban; Pax by Sara Pennypacker. 

Here's a quickie reference guide: https://emmawaltonhamilton.com/is-it-a-chapter-book-or-middle-grade/
Title: Re: not sure if I'm writing CB or MG
Post by: 217mom on June 08, 2019, 10:31 AM
Hard to know without reading it, but I wanted to mention that there is a sub-category of "Young Middle Grade," (ages 8-10 or so?) and the word count fits that. But word count and MC age are just two important pieces, not the whole pie.

{To that sub category you may add another: "Upper Middle-grade." (ages 10-14 or so.) }

Just to make things even more confusing...  :huh Or maybe clarifying.
Title: Re: not sure if I'm writing CB or MG
Post by: marie-dentan on June 08, 2019, 01:43 PM
Thanks for the clarification, Vijaya.
John, I hope we're not getting you even more confused...