A few weeks ago, I had my first Zoom meeting with my Golden Egg Academy editor. It went really well. By the end of our hour-long chat, we had agreed that I would work on several things:
- Reorder the first chapter so things happen in chronological order. (At the moment I jump about a bit in time. Don’t ask me how this happened.)
- Make my main character’s ‘commit to goal’ moment more obvious. (Did you know all MCs need to have this moment in order for the reader to care/know what the story is about? Nope, me neither until I started the Golden Egg course.)
- Simplify things and combine two characters into one. (This is an easy one – I was thinking about doing this anyway. Phew.)
- ‘Big up’ the midpoint of my story and raise the stakes for my MC. (Yup, on it.)
So far so good. And then she threw a spanner in the works: “You know, I think you’re writing a book for 7–9-year-olds.”
To appreciate the significance of this, you need to understand that for the past 8 or so years, I have been writing a novel for 9-12s. I have immersed myself in this world – reading copious books for this age range, making notes, following authors on social media, and reading/listening to endless advice about writing a middle grade novel (I did a typo just then and typed Miffle Grade novel, which I think could catch on).
Admittedly, I had begun to suspect that a story for younger readers might be more my thing, but I had been doing my best to ignore this, primarily because it meant more re-shuffling, re-working, re-everything. And I wasn’t sure I was up to it.
After my editorial feedback, I changed tack. I spent the summer staring into space, muttering to myself, and reading books for 7-9-year-olds. It turns out, they are vastly different to books for 9-12s. Some of my favourites so far include Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball (Laura Ellen Anderson) and Evie and the Animals (Matt Haig).
And finally, it’s all beginning to make sense. If you look at my bookshelf (see photo above), you’ll see some of my much-loved childhood books. And there isn’t a middle grade novel in sight. They are all books for 7-9s or younger. Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, Roger Hargreaves, Dr Seuss, Michael Bond, Joan Robinson – they each have a special place in my heart.
So it makes total sense that I would write a story for this age group.
Don’t ask me why I didn’t see this before because it’s SO BLOOMING OBVIOUS. But I didn’t. And now I do.
And with that said and done, after a temporary hiatus, normal writing service has resumed.