Having recently wrapped up my third MG novel of my Frenchie series, Writer’s Digest’s promotion of Mary Kole’s book, “Writing Irresistible KIDLIT –The Ultimate Guide to Crafting Fiction for Young Adult and Middle Grade Readers” caught my attention. All authors are interested in perfecting their skill set and craft. It’s an invaluable aid challenging authors to go back into one’s manuscript, ask the hard questions, and revise, revise, revise!
10 reasons KIDLIT writers should read Mary Kole’s guide:
1. Mary Kole is well educated, knowledgeable, experienced and a published author herself. She has credence as a Senior Literary Manager, someone who teaches webinars on all aspects of children’s book craft and she blogs at kidlit.com.
2. She reassures authors that there is an audience for MG readers and of course, for the extremely popular YA audience.
3. She clarifies the appropriate length of MG and YA novels. Her justification for why MG novels should average 35,000 words made perfect sense to me as an educator. (Shorter books have the potential to capture a wider variety of readers. Not all readers at this level are advanced in their reading skills and a shorter book encourages them to pick it up.)
4. She backs up her advice with successful, well-written book excerpts that demonstrate these literary strengths in successful, exemplary books.
5. The guide supplies advice and bonus tips throughout by editors, best-selling authors and agents specializing in KIDLIT. An example of this is Holly Black’s quote, “Write for your reader self and not your writer self.”
6. Mary Kole addresses the characteristics of good writing (storytelling foundations, characterization, action, plot, tension, climax, etc.) and at the end of each chapter, she challenges the reader to return to their own manuscript to see the strengths of their writing…or the changes required to improve one’s story.
7. Mary Kole understands the tween/teen. She makes statements that resonate with those who are developing their writing skills as MG/YA authors. For e.g., “Readers want to see themselves in stories- that’s how they care.” She “gets” what MG and YA readers are looking for in the books they read. Do you know what it is? It’s connection. Mary describes the kids and characters of this age group in this way:
“They are totally wrapped up their own experiences, blow things out of proportion, and see the world through a very self-centered lens. They have no brakes in certain situations and often blurt things out way before the notion of “consequences” enters their brains. They’ll push boundaries, laugh at the worst possible time, and completely lose their cool.” (p. 106)
As a retired educator/elementary school principal and single mom of two sons, let me just say, she totally understands the readers for whom we write.
8. WRITING IRRISTIBLE KIDLIT has voice. Mary Kole models this throughout the guide for us. The reader relates to her as:
- a highly effective editor,
- well-grounded (not necessarily seeking the next vampire or dystopian story),
- professional with high standards and expectations,
- human with a sense of humor and sarcasm,
- and, above all, competent in what she does.
9. Mary Kole clearly explains what an agent and editor will be seeking in a manuscript. She inspires you go into your draft in depth and ask yourself the hard questions:
- Have I hooked my readers from the start? Will readers be sympathetic and interested? Will they relate to the character?
- What’s the inciting incident that rocks my character’s world?
- Am I showing, not telling?
- What’s the Big Idea or Big Question being tackled in the theme of my novel?
- Is there lingering tension at the end of a chapter? How has the plot become more complicated?
- Has my character changed? Will my readers care? Are there signs of maturity and coming of age?
- Is there emotional impact for the reader at the end of the novel?
10. You will have a preparatory toolbox when seeking agents and publishers for your novels. She demystifies the query process and provides authors with a concise template when preparing submissions.
KIDLIT writers check out this resource and have your highlighter ready! No matter how successful or experienced as authors, there is always something to be gleaned to further the depth of one’s craft. Be inspired!
If this post was worthwhile to any of you, please leave a comment on my blog. As well, if you know of another KIDLIT author who might be interested in this resource, please share my blog link: http://twocandobooks.wordpress.com