Monday, July 28, 2014

Operation Tree Roper: An Eye Above by Robert Polk... BOOK TRAILER REVEAL!

Anaiah Press is revealing the trailer for OPERATION TREE ROPER: AN EYE ABOVE by Robert Polk today and we have it here on the blog!


Twelve-year-old Declan Parker was born with only one eye, but all he seems to have trouble seeing in proper perspective is himself.  All he wants is for kids to see him as normal before he starts a new school in the fall. To that end, he sets out to make money helping with his dad’s tree care business.

Unfortunately, when his dad lands in the hospital after a climbing accident, Declan’s surgery hopes are wrecked. His only hope remains in a neighbor girl and her uncle, a wounded army veteran. Can they help him save his dad’s business, or will Declan’s once-courageous drive turn into total despair?

Operation Tree Roper: An Eye Above is a well-crafted story about a strong, dauntless young man who redefines the value of self-reflection. Declan is a character you won’t be able to forget.

Welcome to your new favorite book...

Release Date:
October 7, 2014

Book Links:

Author Bio:

Robert Polk lives in western Nebraska where he shares his love of books and the great outdoors with his wife and seven children. He is a former school counselor, business owner, and tree climbing arborist. Robert participates in his church and local community, currently serving on several non-profit boards.

Author Links:
Goodreads: https://

Friday, July 25, 2014

Basics Of Plot Structure

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about plot. Specifically, things I wish I’d known when I first started writing (find it here). If you’ve read, understood and implemented the points in the first plot post you’ll probably have a pretty good start when it comes to plot structure but it’s a truly interesting topic to dig into. Below, I’ve listed out the most common major points in a strong plot structure.

 You can use these basic plot structure points to plan a new novel idea and make sure you’ll have a full, impactful story before you even get started. Or you can use it as a check list for a finished novel when you want to be sure you’re not missing anything.

Step One: Set Up

     What’s normal to your character? This should be quick, as short as one sentence and not much longer than one page. The truth is, we need to know what normal is to your character or we won’t really understand why the changes matter. If normal is, well, normal (school, homework, parents, siblings etc.) you won’t want to share much or you’ll run the risk of boring the reader. One sentence is enough to establish normal and it doesn’t necessarily have to be the first sentence. “If Grams had only warned me about the demon below the stairs I would have never hid there during hide and seek”. (yes, I just made that up) That sentence works because it shows both the normal and the not-normal. I know this character has a grandma he calls Grams and he was playing hide and seek. There is still a whole lot more to know but at least I have an idea of what his normal is. We can learn more as the story progresses.

Step Two: Inciting incident

      This is the very first event that starts the ball rolling for the rest of the plot. This is the very first big change in your character’s world. The thing that prompts the character’s call to action. It should come as close to the beginning as possible.

Step Three: Character makes a choice
     This is the specific moment that the character chooses to act. It might be during the inciting incident, it could be the next scene, could be a few scenes later. It all depends on your story. 
 Step Four: Fun and Games


      My editor explained this to me as what you see on your cover. The cool parts of the story. In a romance, this is where the characters fall in love. In a mystery it’s where the character finds that super cool clue. In an adventure, it’s the most exciting, fun part of the adventure. This is the fun part before things turn south and start to fall apart. The higher the hill of a roller coaster, the better/scarier the dip when things finally start to fall. Establish a high for your character so when things fall we get the best stomach sinking feeling possible.  

Step Five: Midpoint
      The top moment of the fun and games. The midpoint is either the most “high” moment or the “low” moment (the latter being the minority and very difficult to pull off). I’ve heard this described as the moment your character thinks the story is over. They’ve achieved their goal, or there is NO way they’ll ever win.

Step Six: All is lost
      This is usually the next scene and should be the opposite of the midpoint. If your midpoint is high, you’ll need that twist that brings it all crashing down, if your midpoint is low, you’ll need that moment where things start looking up. Basically, in the midpoint, your character comes to a conclusion and in the next scene learns they were wrong.

Step Seven: The choice
      The character clears their head of the horror of the All Is Lost Moment and makes a plan for success (make this a tough plan, not an easily achieved)

Step Eight:  Finale  
      The big moment, for better or worse the story will end on this moment. This might be the long awaited battle with the big bad guy, or it might be a more personal “proving a point” moment. If it’s the latter, make sure it something that’s been set up from the beginning, something your character would never have done at the beginning of the story. It should cost something.

The End!!
 Congratulations! You have a fully plotted novel.
Now, it's time to get writing, or revising or maybe even querying (depending on when you can across this list)

The plot points above are the powerful moments in the story, with them you’ll be sure to have an impactful story for all readers. Does your story fit these plot points? Can you think of a successful story that doesn’t? Do you use another plot structure or do you even worry about structure? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Whitley Abell of Inklings Literary Agency gets Middle Grade Minded

Middle Grade Minded is pleased to host literary agent Whitley Abell of Inklings Literary Agency on the blog today.
Whitley Abell joined Inklings Literary Agency in 2013. Before joining Inklings, she completed successful internships with Carol Mann Agency and P.S. Literary Agency. She is based in St. Louis, MO, where she daylights as a production manager for several medical and S & T journals. She graduated in 2011 BA in English and Creative Writing, and again in 2012 with a MAT in Secondary English Education, which basically means she can tell you anything there is to know about feminist literary theory and the Common Core Standards.

Whitley was kind enough to answer some questions about querying and specifically querying middle grade. 

1.) What do you look for in a submission? 

In general, I'm looking for something that I can get excited about and something I can picture the audience for. In terms of middle grade specifically, I look for either a fun concept or an interesting twist or something I can easily relate to the Common Core Standards, characters that resonate with my inner child and the characters I loved growing up, and writing that feels authentic (bonus if the voice and personality can make me laugh). I also really look for authentic emotions; looking back at my middle grade years, this was when I really started getting connected to the characters, caring about them as though they were friends and worrying about their well-being while reading. This was also when, in the case of books like Number the Stars, I discovered the power of the cathartic cry fest that comes with reading.

2.) What things do you think define Middle Grade and set it apart from the other age groups?

Middle grade has the widest spread in terms of targeted age groups. Despite common belief, Middle Grade is not synonymous with middle school. It's not just the "tween" market (that's "upper MG"). Middle grade is where the morality line really begins to blur. There’s more grey area between right and wrong in MG than in children's chapter books…especially in upper MG. Protagonists are much more subversive and the adults are no longer portrayed as perfect pillars of society. Think of Harry Potter; if it were a chapter book instead of MG, more lessons in discipline would be learned… breaking the rules certainly wouldn't save the day and be rewarded in the end. And MG is the growing middle ground doing everything you're told and gaining the sense independence and autonomy found as a teenager. Also, there is a general lack of romantic plot line that is so prelevant in YA. Little crushes are one thing, but it's like the first season of Lizzie McGuire vs The Lizzie McGuire Movie. Or Ron's awkward crush on Fleur Delacour (MG) vs his snog-fest filled relationship with Lavender Brown (YA).

3.) We frequently hear that Middle Grade voice is difficult to get right. Why do you think it's so tough to get Middle Grade voice right? And what can a writer do to help nail down their Middle Grade voice?

Middle grade—especially upper MG—is so difficult in voice because the readers are at a point where they can tell when they're being talked down to, and they know when they're being told a story to teach them a lesson (and they don't like it!). But as authors and as grow-ups, it is so easy to still view them as children. Authors can't write to MGers, they have to write as MGers. And that's hard, because it's not as easy to slip into the 8-12 year old mindset as it is your teenage mind. If you're the type to think "well, when I was a kid…" or roll your eyes at the antics of Luke on Modern Family, then MG is probably not the right market for you. It's so, so easy to come out feeling forced. The best thing a writer can do is read as much MG fiction as they can and, if possible, connect with an actual MG reader. I have a little brother who just turned 13 and in the past few years, he has really helped keep me grounded and aware of just how middle grade readers think and act and speak.

4.) What are the most common mistakes you see in submissions?

Reading the market wrong: I see book pitched as lower MG that are really still chapter books, and upper MG pitched as YA (and vice versa).

MG Redo: I see a lot of pitches that are a MG version of a YA bestseller. Trust me, if it's a best seller in YA, then the upper MG readers have already read it. We don't need a MG version of the Hunger Games.

A glaring mismatch between the age of the protagonist and the intended reader: A 12 year old doesn't want to read about a 6 year old or a 60 year old, they want to read about someone in the same general age group. And actually, a 12 year old would prefer to read about a 14 year old, and a 10 year old about a 12 year old, and so on.

Word count: I see so many upper middle grade pitches come in with books that are 20,000-25,000 words, which is too short. Though nothing is definitive, lower MG should stick around 20,000-35,000, while upper MG is around 40,000-70,000.

Overreaching comparative titles or trying too hard to emulate the best sellers (ex: Diary of a Wimpy Kid).  I hate to break it to you, but comparing your writing to Percy Jackson or Harry Potter isn't a selling point. It's OK to say that it would appeal to fans of…, but really, everyone is a fan of Harry Potter, so we'll need a lesser known title as well.

 5.) Aside from lack of interest in the premise, what makes you stop reading a submission?

The story feeling too young to MG readers (I prefer upper MG, mainly). The writing feeling  forced, didactic, or much too young. The thought that I've seen this before. (By the way, I see A LOT of MG superhero submissions in my inbox). Telling me what lesson you hope your book will teach (this isn't Seventh Heaven, and MG readers don't want to read life lessons).

6.) What are you dying to see in your inbox?

A great historical novel that gives and alternative and relatable P.O.V. to the events and people in history text books. It can be focused on a certain event (ex: Number the Stars, Letters from Rifka) or simply set in another time (ex: Beth Hilgartner's A Murder for Her Majesty).

An awesome magical realism or contemporary fantasy adventure; something that weaves the surreal into the character's everyday life. Something like A Bridge to Terabithia or Over Sea, Under Stone, both of which still pop into my mind 15 years after reading them for the first time.

A contemporary novel with a hilarious heroine that's not just poking fun of herself or mocking others and story with the depth and poignancy I've come to crave in contemporary fiction I loved Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's Alice series when I was a kid because of how honest and funny Alice McKinley was, and I positively adored Linda Urban's A Perfect Kind of Crooked (which I finally got around to reading.

And now for some fun questions. Since I know you love Harry Potter and I'm a huge fan as well, let's hop on the Hogwarts Express.

1.) What Hogwarts house would you be in?

Ravenclaw! Luna and I would totally be besties.

2.) If you could have any mythological pet from the series what would it be?

A phoenix. I've always found them fascinating. Plus I'm always cold, they could be my personal, little heater.

3.) What position would you play on the Quidditch Pitch?

Err, I'd love to say seeker, but really I have always had the worst hand-eye coordination and get easily distracted, so I probably wouldn't make it on the team. So I guess I'd be the Hermione like character, sitting in the stands looking for options to use my awesome handling of magic to catch the bad guys and help my team.

4.) What would be your best subject at Hogwarts?

Probably charms or transfiguration… I'd love to learn to take the things I imagine being able to do and make it real with a swish and flick of my wand. Either way, it definitely would not be potions; science and I so do not mix.

5.) And if you could make up a spell to do anything, what would it be?

A spell to slow down time so I can get more sleep… and read more books.

A BIG thank you to Whitley for stopping by the blog! 

Whitley is now open to queries.
She is primarily interested in Young Adult, Middle Grade, and select Upmarket Women's fiction. She likes characters who are relatable yet flawed, hooks that offer new points of view and exciting adventures, vibrant settings that become active characters in their own right, and a story that sticks with the reader long after turning the last page, be it contemporary or historical, realistic or supernatural, tragic or quirky.

She loves mythology and literary re-imaginings, heartbreaking contemporary novels, historical suspense, and craving cute romantic comedies for YA through adult (ex: Sophie Kinsella, Lauren Morrill, Stephanie Perkins).

She is not interested in vampires, werewolves, angels, zombies, dystopian societies, steampunk, or epic fantasy. Please no paranormal / fantasy for adults.

To query Whitley visit the Inklings Literary Agency website. Make sure you follow the submission guidelines!

Friday, July 18, 2014

If You Love the Water

Last summer, when my son Fulton was just a baby, we went swimming a few times each week. Every time his skin would hit the pool he would smile and and giggle. I would put his belly on the surface and fly him over the pool like he was a super hero. Some of my kids haven't taken to water in quite the same way, but Fulton? He loved it.

But this summer was a whole new experience for my now toddler because Fulton doesn't remember last summer. To him, this was like his first time. The first day we went out, I took him with the other kids to one of those big city pools, the ones that have the zero depth entrance for the little kids. As soon as I set him down on the concrete, he checked out all the other kids running around, people jumping off the sides and splashing. As summertime chaos raged around him, his eyes grew huge with wonder- and probably more than a little fear.

I led him to a little yellow slide, the kind where small kids go up two or three steps and slide down into about a foot of water. He didn't want to go. He was freaked out. But I finally got him to the steps, and he hugged the side of the wall, his eyes darting back and forth as he tried to figure out exactly what the other kids were doing.

You could see the wheels turning. He simply didn't know what to do. He watched others, he got a little more comfortable and finally he made those last two steps and slid down into the water. He promptly fell backwards, gulped a huge amount of water and started to cough. I helped him turn over, get upright, and then I led him back to the slide. This time, he was a little more confident and when he made his way down the slide, he hit the water, kept himself upright and smiled the world's largest smile.

I don't know how many times Fulton went down the slide that day (it felt like a thousand). But I know this, no kid in the history of the world has ever had as much fun as he had that day. And you know what? Of course he did...because...well, he loves the water.

Writing is kind of like that. At the beginning, we don't know what the hell we are doing. We look around, see how other people do it, we bump into things, and we fall. And to a lot of people this is all discouraging. And once you get through the initial discouragement, there is more to come. Rejections, bad reviews, your mom hates it, whatever. And if you got into writing for the money or for the wrong reasons, then plenty of this might derail you.

But of course you didn't. Presumably, you got into writing because you love it.

Remember that, never forget it. Yes, along the way, there are things you need to do that you won't love but....BUT...never forget to find a way to write, and to write about the things, that continue to make you love it. That's where your true voice will shine.

And when you bump into things, have bad days, and generally don't feel like you have a clue, just remember this....if you truly love the water then everything will work out...eventually.

Monday, July 14, 2014

MG readers share their thoughts

Several middle grade readers live in our family, and I asked them to share their expertise with us. In the questions below, I ask about their reading habits and tastes. Perhaps you can learn a bit from their answers. (I know I picked up a few good tips.)

1.      About how many books have you read in the last year?

b-11 “At least twenty, but some of the books I would like to read are not published yet, or my parents won’t let me read them. Like, Allegiant, for example.”

g-11 “NO IDEA!”

g-9 “About a dozen.”

(I’m certain all of these estimates are low. I see these kids reading ALL THE TIME! Often they are rereading their favorite books.)

2.      Of the books you’ve read in the last year, which are your favorites, and why?

b-11 “My two favorite series are The Heroes of Olympus, by Rick Riordan, and The Kane Chronicles, by Rick Riordan. I like them because a.) They both get connected in the last book in the Kane Chronicles.  b.) They help you learn. c.) They both have a lot of suspense and adventure.”

g-11 “The Heroes of Olympus series, by Rick Riordan, because they make me feel like I’m a part in their quest. Usually I imagine somebody is making my story. I pretend I am reading a book like rick Riordan’s that explains how I am feeling & what I’m going through. The books are so well written.”

g-9 “The Harry Potter series, Out of My Mind, and the Half Upon a Time series. Because I really like there was magic in the Harry Potter and Half Upon a Time series. And in Out of My Mind, an eleven year old girl is in a wheelchair and can’t move or talk, except for her thumbs, which she uses to press keys on a computer to help her communicate. She is one of the smartest kids in her school, but at first, no one knows.”

(Now I have to read that one. I’m a sucker for contemporary realism.)

3.      Are there certain things you like or look for in the books you choose to read?

b-11 “I look for adventure, suspense, sci-fi, drama, and mysteries. Oh, and fantasy.”

g-11 “Well, I like adventure and humor in a book.”

g-9 “Fantasy, realistic fiction, and animal books.”

4.      Has anything made you stop reading a book? If so, what?

b-11 “No. But I won’t read a book unless it has a good description on the back.”

g-11 “Yes. Like it’s not my type, or…huh. That’s it.”

g-9 “No, but if I don’t like what it says on the back, I won’t read it.”


5.      Do you recommend books to your friends?

b-11 “Yes! I always will recommend a good book to someone.”

g-11 “Heck yeah! Just did to my dad & sister! J

g-9 “Yes, because if I really like a book, I want my friends to see if they like it.”

      6.      What types of books would you like to read more?

b-11 “I would love to see more sci-fi books, mostly because I love technology, and it fascinates me at how it has advanced, and is still advancing.”

g-11 “I’d like to read more fantasy.”

g-9 “I answered that in number 3.” (Correct, as usual my lady.)

7.      Is there anything else you’d like to share with our blog readers and middle grade writers?

b-11 “If you have not read Rick Riordan’s books, I highly recommend you do. He packs a bunch of humor into a very serious plot/goal. Like how it would happen in real life. Please take his tips in his books. HE IS A GREAT AUTHOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (<--That's 41 exclamation points, in case you wondered.)

g-9 “The picture on the front of the book is a very important part of the book. It draws the reader’s attention. You should make the front cover relate to the story in some way.”

The kids agreed to give some reviews of their favorite books for my next post in three weeks. Hope to see you then. (I guess it’s time for me to reread a Rick Riordan book from a writer’s mindset.)

Happy writing, everyone! 

Friday, July 11, 2014


I am extremely honored to post a fellow MIDDLE GRADE MINDED author's cover reveal. As much as I want to build suspense, I can't hold it in, because I am absolutely digging this cover. So without further adieu, I give you Robert A. Polk's kick butt cover for his new novel..CHECK IT OUT!

Operation Tree Roper: An Eye Above

 by Robert Polk

Adventures, Anaiah Press


Twelve-year-old Declan Parker was born with only one eye, but all he seems to have trouble seeing in proper perspective is himself.  All he wants is for kids to see him as normal before he starts a new school in the fall. To that end, he sets out to make money helping with his dad’s tree care business.

Unfortunately, when his dad lands in the hospital after a climbing accident, Declan’s surgery hopes are wrecked. His only hope remains in a neighbor girl and her uncle, a wounded army veteran. Can they help him save his dad’s business, or will Declan’s once-courageous drive turn into total despair?

Operation Tree Roper: An Eye Above is a well-crafted story about a strong, dauntless young man who redefines the value of self-reflection. Declan is a character you won’t be able to forget.

Welcome to your new favorite book...

Release Date:
October 7, 2014

Book Links:

Author Bio:

Robert Polk lives in western Nebraska where he shares his love of books and the great outdoors with his wife and seven children. He is a former school counselor, business owner, and tree climbing arborist. Robert participates in his church and local community, currently serving on several non-profit boards.

Author Links:

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

We Want You... To Join our Team

Do you write Middle Grade literature?

Do you like to share writing knowledge and experiences?

Do you like interviewing others?

Do you like reviewing Middle Grade books?

Do you like blogging?

Would you be willing to write one blog post a month?

If you answered yes to most if not all of those questions then you might be the perfect addition to the Middle Grade Minded team!

We are currently looking for additional bloggers to write posts on writing craft and experiences, review middle grade literature, and/or perform interviews with agents, authors, editors, teachers, and even middle grade readers. If you are interested in joining the team please answer the questions below and send them to with the subject line "I want to blog for Middle Grade Minded"


1.) Do you write? If so what age group/genre?

2.) Why do you want to blog for Middle Grade Minded? 

3.) What kinds of things would you most like to blog about?

4.) What do you hope to bring to the Middle Grade Minded team

5.) Do you currently have a personal blog? If so please link us to it.

6.) What social media platforms are you on? Please include handles or links.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Great MG Book Bomb of 2014!

The incredible Ginger Lee Malacko, author of Spark: Kindled Book One, has inspired us here at Middle Grade Minded to hop on an event that we'd be crazy not to help promote.

The MG Book Bomb of 2014!

So what is a Book Bomb? Don't worry--it doesn't involve harming any of our hard-covered or paper-backed friends.

But what it does involve is you and a book!

Here's the information from Ginger:

On July 19th, authors from all over the map will leave a copy of their book somewhere for some lucky reader to find. It could be on a park bench, a mall food court table, a shop window ledge, a seat on the bus. It could even be stuffed inside a fire hydrant.

Okay, maybe not a fire hydrant, but you get the idea.

You can find out where authors have hidden their books by checking out the hashtag #mgbookbomb on twitter, the day of the drop.

To all authors who wish to participate, just leave your book somewhere accessible to readers on Saturday, July 19th. Take a photo of your book in its secret location and tweet it (#mgbookbomb), instagram it, facebook it--basically just get it out there for fans to see.

Authors can leave as many copies of their book in as many locations as they choose, leave clues on social media as to their whereabouts, and add their own promo goodies such as bookmarks or buttons, etc.

Be sure to watch the twitterfeed throughout the day and RT the photos of the most creative drops you see.

Leave your own personalized note if you like. Sign the book if you like. Or you can print off these handy book tags (just click to enlarge). Just make sure you let your lucky new reader know that you're participating in the MG Book Bomb.

Now, when I first read this, I thought the idea was incredible. What better way to snag a random reader for a book that you've written? Our very own Rob Polk is going to be dropping his book, Operation Tree Roper: An Eye Above. And from what I've heard, he's already got some incredibly clever spots picked out!

But what if you don't have a book published? What if you're like a lot of us here at Middle Grade Minded, having to wait until 2015 or 2016 before your book even comes out? Well we thought of that. So if you've got your own book--awesome!

Sign it, drop it, snap a picture of it, and tweet it using the #mgbookbomb hashtag.

But if you don't, then just drop a MG book that you love. One that you want to share. Or drop a book and include a note about your book's release date. However you choose to do it, just remember--use the hashtag, include a picture, and leave a clue to where you've dropped your book.

Be sure to show some MG Book Bomb support by adding this awesome little button to your own blog or website. Just copy and paste the following bit of code below.

<a href=""><img src="" width="240" height="240" alt="book bomb button-001" /></a>

So get cracking on figuring out where you'll be dropping your MG book! And who knows? You might actually snag a brand new MG novel from someone else. Even if you don't have a book to drop, you can still help out by RTing the best "book bombs" you see. The owner of the picture with the most RTs will be dubbed the 2014 Best Book Bombardier! Be sure to check Ginger's website for award details. 

We'll see you on Book Bomb Day--July 19th!

Friday, July 4, 2014

The things I wish I’d know about plotting when I first started writing

For every new writer there is a steep learning curve. There are a gazzillon things we’ll need to learn before we’re ready for publication. Some things come easy, some take time. Everyone has different talents and different struggles, things we’ll need to work harder to overcome. For me, one of the things that took me the longest to learn is about plot.

Sure, we all have a story to tell but a story doesn’t always mean we have a plot.

Now, I’m still learning, but over the last year I've gathered quite a bit of information that I truly wish I’d known when I was just starting out. Even if you’re fairly good with plot, there may be a thing or two you could still learn. It also may help you catch a problem with a plot you never noticed before.

1.     Plot means conflict, yes, but it also means the call for action.
            There is no story without conflict, it should be inherent on each and every page, but conflict alone isn’t enough to carry a plot. There needs to be a call for action that connects with the conflict. What needs to happen in this story and why? It should be something only your character can or will do.

2.     Your character needs a goal
            This goes along with number one because the call to action is a goal. Don’t make things just happen to your character, those things might push your character into the plot, but there needs to be a thing or two that makes your character active in this story. What does your character want other than surviving?
             Even “down the rabbit hole” plots need to have something active within the “get out alive” goal.
            The best way to beef up a story is to have two different layers of conflict: internal and external. Sometimes those goals can even conflict with each other. They have a goal, now what connects that goal to their emotional journey?

3.     Every scene needs to move the plot forward.
            When I first started writing this was my worst habit. I’d make the inciting incident happen in chapter 12, thinking that all the things that happened before were important (hint: they aren’t). If you can cut scenes without changing how the story pans out, you’re probably falling into his pit hole.
            Every scene needs to matter, needs to change something. It can be personal, the way the character thinks about something, or it can include a hint that pulls them further towards the end goal, or maybe it makes things worse, deepens the conflict. Look at every scene in your story and decide if you NEED it there. Even subplots should connect back to the main conflict, even if it’s not right away.

4.      Stakes
            What happens if your character fails at his/her goal? There should be some very scary consequence to failing. The world ending? Well, yes, that’s a pretty easy go-to. But honestly, something personal is usually more compelling. Death, the loss of a family member, being hated by someone they care about, making their parents proud. With Middle Grade, those stakes CAN be a bit smaller than adult works because sometimes peer or parent acknowledgment is the most important thing to this age group. That’s okay. So long as it truly matters to your character, it will matter to the reader.

5.     Subplots
            Developing the goals of side characters is a great way to deepen a plot. I won’t go into huge detail about this subject since Jamie wrote a great post about subplots a few weeks back:

6.     Structure
I plan to write a full post about this because it can get kind of in depth. If you’re worried about plot structure try using a beat sheet like this one: There are some really interesting theories to plot structure that can make any story line much stronger. 

I’m still learning about plot myself, and it’s one of those things that is different for every story (and that’s a good thing, otherwise all our stories would be the same), but there are always ways to make it stronger, to make it more compelling to readers. What have you learned about plot? Any more tips for me or books you really enjoyed reading about the topic? I’d love to hear them!