Ever Wondered What Makes a Book Young Adult (YA) or Middle Grade (MG)? I read three good articles today answering this question, plus an extra article about writing for boys (links below).
I found the info very insightful. Just like in one of the posts, I also prefer to read MG and I think it is because in MG (especially fantasy), the main character (MC) can save the world or have big adventures; while in YA the focus is often on something very small like how the girl feels about her boyfriend or whatever. I liked the explanation that Harry Potter was really MG even though Harry got older and moved into the YA age group.
From my old Institute of Children’s Literatue manual, the age groups break MG into three levels: 8/9-12 (12,000-25,000 words), 9-13 or 10+ (20-40,000 words), 12+ (25,000-60,000); and then YA from 40,000 – 80,000, though I think Harry Potter upped the numbers allowed especially for fantasy/sci fi. Anyway, it is a place to begin for figuring out how many words your book needs.
ICL also states “common problems and concerns” for various ages of kids so when you’re writing about a certain topic you can determine what age your MC “should” be and determine if it is a MG or YA. Here are some condensed lists. For ages 9-12 – independence, honesty, growing pains, friendship, being new in a situation, appearance, goals, earning money, popularity. For teens: dating and romance, morals of indivduals or society, peer pressure, appearance, parents, competition, friendship, being different, religion, social issues. Universal concerns: death, family problems, immediate environment, larger environment, survival. Notice how some topics are in both groups. And again, some genres like fantasy or historical fiction may vary things a little because in another time or world, things might not be as they are currently on earth, for example kids may have more responsibilites at a younger age.
ICL http://www.institutechildrenslit.com/ is a great program for new writers or for learning basics.
Enough for today. Happy writing everyone!
Hannah Moskowitz details the thematic differences between YA and MG books http://hannahmosk.blogspot.com/2010/09/mg-vs-ya.html.
Mary Kole gives some insight into voice and character in MG boy books http://kidlit.com/2010/08/18/voice-in-mg-boy-books/.
And Roni Loren shares some secrets in developing an authentic male YA voice http://fictiongroupie.blogspot.com/2010/09/creating-authentic-teen-guys-voice.html.
More on writing for boys http://hannahmosk.blogspot.com/2010/07/boy-problem.html.