MG Lessons

I’ve been reading a lot of middle grade lately. Mostly books I bought for A-Read, but then decided to read, too. It’s fun having our own little book club.

Recently we read:

Rick Riordan’s The Red Pyramid
Sarwat Chadda’s The Savage Fortress
Gennifer Choldenko’s No Passengers Beyond This Point

From these books I’ve learned a number of lessons. Among them:

  • How to depict a sibling relationship; the fights, the responsibilities, the joys.
  • Main characters must have a tangible goal.
  • The most unbelievable things can happen in a book, as long as you make the reader believe.
  • Road trips (or plane trips) don’t have to be boring.
  • I prefer a more subtle type of bad guy.
  • Talking directly to the reader can help build tension. (But it can also pull the reader out of the narrative.)
  • Quirky characters are fun to read.
  • Give the reader something unexpected.

What writing lessons have you learned lately?



Filed under Reading, writing

9 responses to “MG Lessons

  1. I’ve learned that I can change things about how I write (for example, typing a first draft instead of writing it out by hand). And risk-taking! Trying new things, experimenting with format, going out of our comfort zones – these can all be very good things. (Or complete disasters, but, you know, I’m trying to stay positive.)

  2. Cripes girl, I learn something new everyday! What did I learn from books? I don’t really like long descriptions of setting. I don’t care if they are beautiful prose or magically told. I like to see things for myself in my own way. I don’t like recaps every three chapters either. But! I do like relationships and snappy dialogue. I like strong voices and characters that make me forget my troubles. I especially like talking about books with others who get as excited as me. yay!

    I love your list.
    Happy readings!

  3. valentinahepburn

    I agree with Tanya. I also feel I’m learning something new all the time. Light -bulb moments aplenty…something which makes me say, “yes, I love that”. As readers, I guess we’re all looking for the story in which we can lose ourselves: complete escapism. I always wanted to learn how to write that kind of story for my readers. I hope I’ve learnt how to do it…somewhere on this journey.

  4. Ah, Vicki! I read for entertainment and now you’re making me think. lol
    The one thing I’ve learned recently though is that the emotional journey is just as important as the obstacles we place in front of the mc.
    I haven’t read any of the books you listed so I’m looking forward to doing just that in a near future.

  5. Catherine Johnson

    I’ve read some great books where I couldn’t predict what happens next. I like that.

  6. I still need to read the second two books that you mentioned (adding to my TBR list!). Cool topic for a post, and timely for me. I just picked up a Roald Dahl book (The Missing Golden Ticket and other Splendiferous Secrets) and it has all sorts of quotes from Dahl. In terms of writing, Dahl says, “the job of a children’s writer is to try to write a book that is so exciting and fast and wonderful that the child falls in love with it.” So there’s a lesson from a master 🙂

  7. All great lessons! I’d say if the trip isn’t interesting it shouldn’t be in the book! 😀

  8. Worthwhile lessons. Lately I’ve been paying close attention to connectivity in stories. How one little nugget sends out many tendrils. It’s fun to trace them back and see how something that appeared insignificant was an important spark.

  9. I used to be really good about writing down what I learned from books but I’ve gotten lazy. I need to start doing it again! There’s always something to learn.

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