Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Why I Write Middle Grade - by Jamie Krakover

I didn't originally intend on writing Middle Grade fiction. In fact, I thought I was writing a Young Adult book. I buy most of my books in the YA section of the book store and it's practically all I read. So when I started writing, naturally, I gravitated toward young adult fiction. So it came as a huge shock when both an editor and an agent at a writer’s conference told me my book read like a middle grade. Of course, I was new to writing and had made some serious rookie mistakes. And for the sake of learning, I'll mention that I started the book with my main character in his room, and gave him the age of fourteen which falls in that unhappy no man’s land that sometimes makes shelving your book difficult. Even worse, I had no idea what the difference between MG and YA really was.

After the conference, I scoured the internet on the differences between YA and MG and still struggled to understand what separated one from the other. In the meantime, my main character lost a year of his life and became thirteen as the wise agent suggested. Then I changed the opening scene to my book as the editor recommended. Despite the wise advice, I still felt completely lost in the Middle Grade world. It's been twenty years since I was that age. But once I started thinking about why I wrote the book, things fell into place.

There are many things in my life that I love. Two things I'm very passionate about are science fiction and children. I babysat a ton growing up and did the camp counselor thing for several years. I even took cadet teaching in high school despite knowing that I didn't want to be a teacher. I loved working with kids, watching them overcome challenges, and seeing them discover new things. At the same time, I grew up on science fiction because my parents are huge fans. They introduced me to numerous TV shows and movies in the realm of sci fi. I also discovered a love for science fiction books in high school. Unfortunately, I was a bit late to the reading game. But in looking at those two loves, I realized that not only did I want to write science fiction and share it with the world, but I wanted to turn kids onto it at a young age like my parents had done for me. And in generating that goal, I realized that writing for Middle Grade was right where I wanted to be.

Jamie age 11

Middle school is tough. It was probably some of the worst years of my life, and not just because I didn't know what a hairbrush was. In middle school I wanted an escape. But I didn't have an escape because I didn't read. There was a whole host of reasons for not reading in my free time. One of the biggest reasons was that I couldn't find a single children’s book I wanted to read. The adult books that I might have found interesting were too high of a reading level for me. So when I set out to write what would become my first MG manuscript, I not only wrote something that would get kids into science fiction but I also wrote the book that I desperately wanted to read as a kid but couldn't find. The escape for my seventh grade self to a land of imagination where anything, and I mean anything, is possible. And that is why I write middle grade.

As part of the blog launch, I'm hosting a giveaway! YAY throws stardust! I'm giving away a query and synopsis critique!!! Yes, I said and! Many of my critique partners call me the synopsis wizard because my forte is wielding my magical editing axe and getting synopsis into the 1-2 page range. So hopefully I can use my powers for good and help one of you! My specialties are MG/YA science fiction and fantasy, but I'm also open to adventure, mystery, and other genres. Fair warning, I'm not great with contemporary but I will still critique a contemporary query and synopsis if you feel so inclined to enter. Good luck to all who enter!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

8 comments:

  1. Am I allowed the enter this? I need synopsis help! Ahh! :)

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    1. haha I don't think you are eligible. We wouldn't want to appear like we are playing favorites... No teachers pets here ;)

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  2. I still think a story about a talking interstellar crime fighting astronaut cat that leads a double life in a quiet English Countryside with her human that enjoys making and talking to fruit her fruit pies, who was a cat in a previous life, is quite a good idea. :p

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  3. Your hair appears brushed in that picture. (Your mom do that?) Glad you are writing MG scifi and looking forward to following your journey!

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    1. Thanks! and it's funny you say that, cause it's not really that brushed. My hair is supposed to be stick straight, or at least it was then! But that's pretty tame compared to some pictures I have ;)

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  4. Great post. I remember you giving great feedback on WriteOnCon :)

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    1. Thank you! And thanks for your feedback during WriteOnCon. I definitely remember seeing you around the boards :) Thanks for stopping by!

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