Monday, July 8, 2013

Middle Grade Stylin'

                                                                                                                         

Yesterday, I attended my monthly writing group. Even though it was a holiday weekend and the lure of sleeping in late on a Sunday morning, was definitely tempting, I'm so happy I dragged myself there. Our discussion centered around middle grade fiction. For me, it was a particularly important discussion since my current WIP is a contemporary middle grade. As I usually do, while I'm writing, I try to read in the genre of my current WIP. While middle grades demonstrate a real variety of characters, maturity levels and experiences, another thing I noticed about this genre is the how varied sentence structure can be. 

Take Kate DiCamillo's Because of Winn-Dixie and compare that to Rebecca Stead's Liar and Spy. Both are solidly middle ground, but Kate DiCamillo's style is spare and straightforward. Her sentences are simple in structure and, only from time to time, does she use a compound sentence. Simple, however, can not be mistaken for drab or dull. On the contrary, DiCamillo's sentences, while unfussy, have real energy and zing behind them.

In Rebecca Stead's book, sentences unfurl like a fisherman's line, arching over, then looping back, before surging forward again. Rebecca Stead's sentences are complex and they take the reader for a ride. While most of us want to read forward to see what happens next, Stead's sentences are nuggets to be enjoyed along the way.  

It's the author's choice how they choose to tell their story and this is what makes middle grade a great place for writers to experiment with words. And hears a cool blog I found that celebrates all things Middle Grade : http://www.debamarshall.com/p/marvelous-middle-grade-mondays.html

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