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