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Happy September!! One month closer to October. Which can only mean we are getting closer to the spookiest, most delicious holiday ever! And to celebrate what I like to call: the spook factor, we have a very special Hot Blogger to start this month off right.
When I first read School of Fear, I thought to myself, “Should I be ashamed that middle grade fiction is totally doing it for me?” When I went back through it to ponder my level of intellegence and/or my maturity, I realized that not only is School of Fear brilliant and hilarious enough for a grown adult to enjoy, but smart, easy and spooktastic enough for a middle grader to love and GET.
So many editors struggle to find… and writers struggle to write that perfect middle grade novel; wobbling as they walk the thin line of uncertainty between older middle grade and younger YA. How do you write for a middle grade reader and not write like a middle grader? Yet how do you successfully write witty, smart, intelligent prose without confusing the middle grade reader? I asked Gitty to share some tips because she, without a doubt, successfully pulls this off in School of Fear. And because she is awesome. Her advice is so delectable, it makes me want to write middle grade humor. In all seriousness, her words of wisdom are truly that: words of wisdom.
Before she Hot Blogs your mind off, watch this awesome little promo video for School of Fear. Isn’t she an absolute doll?
And without any further nonsense from yours truly: Please welcome to This Literary Life, Gitty Daneshvari!
Bree has generously asked me to share my thoughts on writing for a middle grade audience, specifically how to avoid writing down to them. First I must preface this post by saying everyone needs to find their own approach, this just happens to be mine!
I don’t believe in any restrictions while writing a first draft. I use the same vocabulary and humor I do when writing an adult book. This allows me to flesh out my ideas and characters without time consuming self-editing along the way. On occasion when I attempted to mind the reader’s age while writing a first draft I felt stifled and moved at a snail’s pace. Plus, experience has taught me that I will rewrite much of what I have written so I don’t need to agonize over every word and joke on a first draft.
Now when I begin the second draft I look for words that may be too challenging and find an easier synonym. While I change most, I do not change them all, because I think looking up words is an important part of building a vocabulary. I also tend to do an “appropriate” check on my humor. Could any of these jokes be hurtful to the reader? If I am in question, I email a friend with kids or my editor. At the end of the day, you never want to feed into a child’s insecurities, but you also don’t want to over sanitize your work. It’s all about finding the balance.
More than anything, I want to emphasize how much revising and rewriting I do with ALL of my work. Don’t be afraid of a weak first draft, writing is a process, you just need to persevere.
SCHOOL OF FEAR 2: CLASS IS NOT DISMISSED is out this September 2010 from Little Brown. My email is email@example.com.