Please welcome Ron Estrada today—Ron’s a familiar face in the Writer Unboxed community, and we’re happy to have him as a guest! Ron grew up a Navy brat, which explains his lack of a home town and why his (soon to be published) middle grade novels involve other hometown-less Navy brats. By day he is an ill-tempered engineer with a quality software company, perched high above Interstate 75 just north of Detroit. By night he chills out with a glass of Petit Sirah and his Macbook, which explains the many, many spelling errors, which his beautiful wife of 25 years corrects. On a really cool note, Ron’s recently acquired agent played defensive lineman for the University of Michigan, even though he’s from Ohio (he can no longer travel through the Buckeye State).
I fell into writing for young adults and tweens several years ago after realizing that young protagonists didn’t have to worry about things like jobs or political opinions, which made them much more interesting. Seriously, I was the average teen who thought I was the only kid who thought the way I did. I want to show young readers that they are spectacular individuals who have a lot more to offer than they could ever dream (hopefully, they will dream it by the time they finish my books).
Writing Your Middle Grade Character (aka The Center of Her Universe)
“It’s all about me!”
Got that? Okay, that’s my post.
What? You desire detail?
Fine. I’m missing a Snapchat and will probably end up an outcast and never have any friends and living in a home for losers in some remote, desolate pit…like Ohio.
Now, my friends, we’re getting somewhere.
Most of us likely began our writing careers in an adult world. Your characters were people like you. Loving, caring, willing to drop everything to rescue your best friend from yet another disastrous relationship.
Because that’s what we’re supposed to do, right? Make our characters likable. Give them depth. A black moment in their past that has defined them but one they must overcome in order to sacrifice themselves, blow up the Death Star, and be forever united with the cute barista at Starbucks.
That was then. Now you’re dealing with middle-graders. Be afraid. From your character’s point of view, it is truly “all about me.” Middle-grade characters range in age from 8 to 13. However, as Sophie Masson pointed out in her post, that’s quite a range. The thoughts and “feels” of an 8 year-old are a (small) world away from a 13 year-old’s. This is why we separate middle-grade between “lower” MG and “upper” MG.
So let’s break it down.
Creating the Lower Middle Grade Character
She is 8-10 years old and truly the center of her universe. She can be loving or spiteful, but cannot fathom that others think differently. If she likes Frozen, it is impossible to comprehend someone not liking Frozen. Her world begins in her Frozen decorated bedroom and ends at the school playground. She hears the news from time to time, but has no reaction to any disaster that doesn’t touch her life directly. [Read more…]