Wednesday, March 20, 2013

How to Write Middle Grade Fiction: Read WRITING IRRESISTIBLE KIDLIT

I recently finished reading Writing Irresistible Kidlit by Mary Kole, a writing guide for middle grade and young adult fiction. It has taken me a couple of months to get through it because it’s so packed with information. Even though I don’t consider myself a ‘newbie’ writer, and I’ve read many craft books, I learned a lot from thinking about the ideas in this book (for example, the explanation of high concept, the emphasis on character’s thoughts and “interiority”, big ideas and themes and what they can do for a novel).   

Many of the points Mary makes are illustrated with examples from both MG and YA literature. So it helps if you’ve read a good selection of books in these categories. I think it’d be worthwhile to take the list of books she’s taken the examples from and read them all, then then re-read her book again. Although it’s not necessary to do this to learn from this book, it’d be great for a second pass through. There is so much in this book, I’m sure I’ll return to it, if only to read specific sections for a particular aspect of the craft that I’m working on.

When I read craft books, I usually jot down points I want to remember and there were lots of those for this book. But I also paused to spend time thinking about how what I was reading applied to my latest project. I ended up making even more notes on my own story than I did on this book. To me, that’s a sign of a really useful craft book.
Reading this book helped me pinpoint what my story needed. It was a little discouraging when I realized how much work it will take to get my story where I now want it to be, but because of Mary Kole’s insights and examples, I have a good sense of what to work on.

A few of the quotes I jotted down from the book:
“A writer is the curator of story. You direct your reader’s attention to all the elements you want her to notice…you’ve got to be very deliberate about your manipulations.”

“…not every line of dialogue needs a tag.”

“Your beginning should create your ending in your reader’s mind.”



  1. I've met Mary Kole and had her critique my stuff. She knows what she's talking about. Thanks for the recommend.

  2. This sounds like a great book! I enjoyed the quotes you shared. Best of luck on your writing. :)

  3. Glad to hear someone I know recommend this book. I had a critique from Mary once, and wasn't too impressed. It seemed like a brief pass through and that she hadn't even read the entire story (it was a pb). But, maybe that's just because I needed to do a lot of work on the manuscript, I don't know. Maybe I will have to check this book out.


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