Posted by: nancyisanders | August 26, 2011

Middle Grade Novel: Read 3 Books

One of the first things I always do when I start a new book project is read books like the one I am starting to write.

This gets my brain in gear. It trains my brain to think and hopefully write in the language and voice and format and genre that I’m focusing on.

So, for my middle grade novel that I’m writing, I decided to use as my reference two books by Sid Fleischman: Jim Ugly and his the Newbery winner, The Whipping Boy.

Not only are these great examples of middle grade novels, but they’re also great formats to follow for a quick exercise because:
* they only have 5 or 6 characters
* they are short with short chapters
* the plot line is very simple
* the subplots are easy to track
* the use of metaphors and similes adds humor, a great plus for a middle grade novel

So if you’re going to join me in this journey, go online or to your local library and order both these books pronto. It only took me one day to read each one of the titles. As soon as you get your hands on them, read them straight through. Before you move forward much on your own novel. It will be the best guideline you’ll have, and I’ll be referring to these books often.

Also, if you haven’t yet purchased a copy of BOOK IN A MONTH: THE FOOL-PROOF SYSTEM FOR WRITING A NOVEL IN 30 DAYS by Victoria Schmidt, go ahead and get it now. It’s worthwhile investment for your writing career.

She shares a lot of detailed information, encouragement, and strategies for writing a novel that I won’t be including here on my blog. After all, it took her a long time to write that book! That’s not what my blog here will be about.

I’ll be sharing step-by-step strategies I’m taking to actually write a middle grade novel and won’t be going into detail about Schmidt’s great book very much. But you’ll know I’m reading it, too, and incorporating some of her strategies into my strategies for a MG novel.

So start reading! In my next post we’ll talk about brainstorming ideas for your middle grade novel.


  1. how many pages do they usualy have? I don’t relly understand “middle grade” what age??

  2. Ordered. Love your book in a month journeys! Yeah!

    • Hip, hip, hooray! I’m so glad you’ll be following along, Doraine!

  3. Over in Cary trying to escape the hurricane. I’ll be thankful to write a couple of devotions in a month.

    • Stay safe, Jan! And if you want to give this a try when hurricane season is over, just follow the posts on this blog all over again and do the exercises.

  4. Thanks, Nancy! I’ve got the Whipping Boy. Jim Ugly will arrive any day. I’ll order Book on a Month (used) from amazon, today! I’m feeling the excitement! I’ve known the sad truth about picture books circa while.))): But like you, I’ve had a burning desire to write simple middle grade novels. I cant WAIT to go on this journey with you & the others! Hugs(((-:

    • Oh, I’m even more excited just hearing of your excitement, Sherri!!!

  5. Hi, Nancy and everyone! I’ve finished revising my upper MG, and now I’m ready to plot another one. Just ordered the BOOK IN A MONTH. Will go to the local library for the other 2. Wait for me!

    • Oh hooray, Anne! Hopefully you’ll get your hands on these books soon!!!!

  6. I have your book at home. I must read it over again!
    Thanks for your answers!

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