Tuesday, September 28, 2010
What Makes Middle Grade?
Some time ago, I participated in a writing exercise. Now, I’m not too fond of writing exercises in general—I write much better by instinct, not on command—but this one was actually pretty easy and very interesting to boot. To help me better understand the genre, I was suppose to describe what I thought defined middle grade. Now we all know the technical definition of middle grade—stories for 8- to 12-year-old readers (or 9- to 12-year-old readers, or 9- to 13-year-old readers, depending on who you ask)—but this exercise went a little deeper than that. What qualities and characteristics, we were asked, make up this fun and fantastic genre? This turned out to be a very useful exercise—I still take my list into consideration when I need a reminder about exactly who my audience is and what I think they’re looking for in a middle-grade read. Obviously, this is very subjective, but here’s what I came up with: