Uncategorized, Writing Craft

Brief Notes on Middle-Grade Voice

I thought I might start posting writing craft tips. I don’t have the time or energy to write actual articles or essays, but I can summon up enough goomph to grab some bullet points from various talks and presentations I’ve given. Below is a bit on voice from a Zoom talk I recently gave to creative writing program at the University of British Columbia. 

One of the things that distinguishes middle-grade fiction from other age categories is voice. Here’re a few bullet points to consider when writing for kids, when analyzing voice, and when developing your own voice:

  • Dialog is not voice.
  • Dialog is a reflection, but not a complete revelation, of interior thoughts and feelings and attitudes.
  • Dialog is how characters talk, but voice permeates every aspect of writing, from description to narrative.
  • Dialog is what comes from the mouth. Voice is what comes from the writer’s brain and heart.
  • How does a pre-teen see the world?
  • How does a pre-teen see themself?
  • What is a pre-teen’s emotional vocabulary?
  • What questions does a pre-teen ask about the world and the way it works?
  • Focus less on what kids sound like than on what it feels like to be a kid.
  • Still don’t know what middle-grade voice is? Read ten recent middle-grade books to get a hint.

Greg van Eekhout

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