LTUE 2018 YA Vs Middlegrade

Published: February 2018

Wifyr - Writing illustrating for young readers - Workshop.

Brandon Mull, Alcatraz Vs The Evil Librarians.

J. Scott Savage

Three Factors that Distinguish
1) Characters
2) Grey Areas
3) Spheres of influence.

Types of books
- Picture book
- Early Reader - Magic school bus
- Middlegrade - Thirdgrade
- Tween - first 5 Harry Potters - Percy Jackson
- Young Adult
- New Adult
- Adult


What to consider
- Protagonist Age - Middlegrade generally not over 14. A year or two older than your primary reader.
- Page Count - No longer than 45k - 50k. In general. YA 75k - 80k. Early reader - 8k
- Content - You can get away with fantasy violence. But you can’t get it connected to the real world. Think of the story you want to tell. How would you tell it to your 10 yo. Lots of potty humor. Zombie kid is smart fiction. Should enjoy it on a different level. Con’t turn off the gatekeepers - Teachers & Parents.
- Romance - Holding hands or kiss on the cheek is the limit.
- Violence - Fantasy violence.
- Cool pictures


Protagonist - Whose shoulders are on the camera.
- History
- Goals
- Motives
- Prejudices

Major Characters
Can have the above but less detailed

Minor Characters
Mostly have traits or characteristics

Everything is wrong under some circumstances.

Going in a direction until something happens to change their life.

Book Thief

Create an event that is strong enough to change the characters course. Set it up so that the reader understands why.

Motivations collide.

The older the reader the more complex the motive. The younger they are the more self centered the motive is.

Middlegrade - Ramona the pest (A to B, easy to define)
Tween - Precy Jackson (More motives and more complex motives, not as easy to define e.g. betrayal by a friend)
YA - Hunger Games / Divergent / Maze Runner (Find identity)

Grey Area

Ender’s Game - As soon as ender considers whether killing the formics makes him the monster it stops becoming a YA.

Conflicting motives - Ender’s Game Save Earth by destroying civilization os save your soul and let earth be destroyed.

Always choose friend in Middlegrade. Reader always knows what the right choice is.

YA has to have ambiguous choices. There is no right choice.

Sphere of Influence

  • Early Reader - How does this effect me?
  • Middlegrade - How does this affect me, my friends, and my family - have to save the best friend first. Can try to save the world but the focus is on who is directly around them.
  • YA - How does this affect me my friends, my family, and the rest of the world.

YA = self discovery. In adult you are who you are.