Workshop Transcript

Middle-Grade Fiction

with Linda Joy Singleton


berries Close Window to Return


*** MsEdit has set the topic on channel #Kidlit to workshop: Linda Joy Singleton on midgrades

Suzy-Q: I have the great pleasure to introduce Linda Joy Singleton.. Author of 23 books!!

_LindaJoy: hi, Verla...SQ just introduced me

Verla: Whew. Just in time. Thanks!

Verla: Thanks Kate & sq

_LindaJoy: I wrote up a few notes for tonight, but I figured it would be mostly just queestion & answer

_LindaJoy: I sold my first book in 1988...which makes me quite old, Liz

JustLiz: me too!

JustLiz: I'm 23, and I'm having trouble getting one out!

_LindaJoy: My very first book I sold was my only mid-grade that is not part of a series

_LindaJoy: It was called ALMOST TWINS, and it's still a really special book to me

mizkay: Okay I'll ask a question. If I was writing a mid-grade that was more geared to boys would I want to perhaps not let on that I am female? I heard somewhere that boys that age will not read a book by a woman?

DonaV: I was wondering about that too. Wouldn't your editor tell you if you needed a name change?

_LindaJoy: Mizkay--I don't think it matters if you're female or not

Verla: I think that used to matter more years ago, Mizkay

_LindaJoy: If an editor wants your name differently, they won't hesitate to tell you

_LindaJoy: The series I'm working on now has some books in the boy's point of view and my name will clearly be female

_LindaJoy: I will admit, I think that K.A. Applegate may have chosen initials so boys might be more eager to buy Animorphs

Verla: Linda, would you mind sharing a little of how you decided on writing for middlegrade readers? As opposed to younger children or adults?

_LindaJoy: sure, Verla

_LindaJoy: when I first started writing seriously in '86, I wrote for adults

_LindaJoy: But I was collecting girl series books (like Nancy Drew) and reading kids books.

_LindaJoy: Then one day I got up early and just started writing a mid-grade mystery. For 3 days I got up at 6AM and wrote a chapter.

_LindaJoy: And after that I dropped adult books, and knew I was meant to write for kids.

_LindaJoy: Of course, THAT book never sold. Even my agent doesn't like it.

Verla: Even though that first book never sold, do you feel that writing it helped your career to move forward? Because you learned from it?

_LindaJoy: yes, verla--the first book gave me confidence and experience

_LindaJoy: I see mid-grade books in two basic categories: hardback & paperback originals

Dani257: Is there a difference? Other than the obvious

_LindaJoy: The hardbacks can be ANY type of book and usually have a distinctive feel of the author

_LindaJoy: THe paperbacks are meant to be purchased directly by kids and often are more category, like mystery or fantasy

mizkay: Can fantasy be considered contemporary also?

adnil^: so it's better to sell a paperback book?

_LindaJoy: I would love to have a hardback book! It's one of my goals.

_LindaJoy: I have been told more than once that I'm a "mass market" author -- writing more lighter, trendy books

pearlsue60: LindaJoy--hardback one of your goals, why? Just because it's different?

_LindaJoy: Hardbacks are taken more seriously and MIGHT last longer in libraries

JannaMH: Is hardback considered more "literary?"

_LindaJoy: yes, Janna...more literary is part of it

JustLiz: Is there a difference between adult paperbacks and ya paperbacks other than the obvious?


_LindaJoy: BIG different when you mention YA...YA's tend to be quite serious, issue-oriented books

_LindaJoy: But there are different levels of YA's as no one can decide who the audience is or where to put them in libraries

pearlsue60: Taken nore seriously by the 'community' as opposed to by kids, LJ?

Dani257: You said YA's were serious issue books. Is there room for funny YA's?

pearlsue60: Dani--yes! Daniel Pinkwater, funny YA!

JustLiz: My YA I am doing right now has both humor and serious tones. Is it bad to mix these?

pearlsue60: JustLiz, read HOLES by Sachar--funny and serious, brilliant!

_LindaJoy: Liz--I think humor and serious is GREAT for a mix

JustLiz: Whew!

Verla: I don't think there's any problem with writing something that doesn't "fit" today's pattern of sales, JustLiz and Dani... because the big new "trend" of tomorrow is going to be set by someone with a new idea, a new slant, a new way of telling a story. Why not let that person be YOU?

_LindaJoy: Actually, I've heard there is a trend for romance/teen right now, although I haven't seen many teen romances published yet

JustLiz: I have a teen Christain romance just waiting

_LindaJoy: I can't speak for the Christian market--but it seems like it's growing and it's more open to a variety of stories

Verla: yes, I think sometimes your book DOES have to wait, JustLiz...wait until the "timing" is right for it to be published

JustLiz: It has been waiting for 16 years so a few more minutes won't hurt!

Dani257: (wait, isn't this supposed to be midgrades?(g)

mizkay: When the word 'contemporary' is used to describe a book, what exactly is meant by that?

Verla: Here are two questions you missed, Linda...mizkay: Can fantasy be considered contemporary also?

_LindaJoy: Contemporary means present day--not a historical or in a fantasy world

Verla: adnil^: so it's better to sell a paperback book?

_LindaJoy: and there's really no better or worse for paperback or hardbacks, just different styles & publishers

JannaMH: Contemporary is current real-life stuff, right?

_LindaJoy: I would consider my GHOST series a reality-based fantasy

MsEdit: reality-based fantasy? can you define that, please?

_LindaJoy: reality-based fantasy: contemporary setting for today's kids but with some magic tossed in

pearlsue60: Harry Potter!

MsEdit: ah, thanks.

DanielJack: Harry Potter was a mid-grade.

_LindaJoy: I LOVED Harry Potter!!!

DanielJack: It was a fabulous book.

pearlsue60: Just finished the sequel, Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets

_LindaJoy: Pearl--where did you get the sequel? I want to read it!

pearlsue60: LJ--ordered it from (not com).uk. It came in two days!

pearlsue60: Will be out here in the U.S. in Sept.

_LindaJoy: thanks, Pearl

LisaMit: Linda Joy, after your first (non-series) book, what made you decide to try a series? Was it your idea or your editor's?

_LindaJoy: Lisa--I always wanted to write a series. I submitted my GHOST series with short outlines for additional books

_Enchanted: Linda, what was your background -- education and/or writing before you wrote your first book?

_LindaJoy: My background was just high school, Enchanted...another area I feel inadequate in sometimes

_LindaJoy: But I spent my entire childhood writing constantly in notebooks

_Enchanted: It doesn't look that way, Linda!

_LindaJoy: I wrote my first book when I was 11 years old --200 pages

mizkay: what was that first 200 page book called?

_LindaJoy: Did I miss any questions?

_LindaJoy: If not, I'll go on....

mizkay: My son wants to know what the name of the book you wrote at age 11 was.

_LindaJoy: I called it HOLIDAY TERROR, then the one I did at 14 (these did NOT sell) was PHANTOM OF THE MIRROR MAZE

DonaV: GREAT titles!

Suzy-Q: I like to do titles

Verla: Nice titles, Linda

JannaMH wonders if Linda's mother worried about her back then...

_LindaJoy: When I was 14, I tried to join a mail writer's school--but was turned down because of my age

adnil^: Linda's mom is cool!

JustLiz: <G>

_LindaJoy: Janna--no, Mom didn't worry about me --she loved hearing my stories

JannaMH: <G>

Verla: Linda's mom is wonderful. I tried to steal her but Linda wouldn't let me...

_LindaJoy: (My Mom STILL complains about the stories I start and never finish)

DanielJack: When you want to write a mid-grade or YA, do you plan it out, or just sit down and write?

_LindaJoy: Daniel--before I write, I plot on paper and wait for it to come full circle in my mind - beg & ending

Verla: So you DO have the start and ending of your book solidly in your mind before you's just the middle that you let "unfold" as you write?

_LindaJoy: Yes, Verla...for me, anyway I don't start writing until I can FEEL the whole story take shape

DanielJack: Do you outline the entire thing?

_LindaJoy: Daniel--I HAVE outlined some of my stories, and I think it's a great tool to stay focused with, but right now I'm writing almost BLINDLY

Verla: (I find it VERY hard to outline...harder than to write the whole thing!)

mizkay: I agree about outlining, finding it kind of restricting.

JannaMH: Does the character come first for you, LJ, or the plot?

JustLiz: I tried to do an outline once and threw it away. It confused me too much!

pearlsue60: For my midgrades, I use what I call a rough outline.

Verla: Ohhhhh. please share the "rough" outline technique with us, pearl?

pearlsue60: Verla--it's just notes, really. Ideas that I get for scenes later in the book, I jot down a line or two, satisfies the craving and keeps me from jumping around too much. I have 'Major Events' that I want to happen listed...but 'rough' means completely flexible. I check back with it from time to time and often haven't kept to it at all. But it's tremendously useful when I'm stuck.

Verla: Hmmm. Now that sounds like a method that even MY scattered mind could cope with.

LisaMit: I have a question about the MG that I'm writing right now. For the 1st four chapters, my main character is 8. Then, in Ch. 5, I skip ahead 5 years and she's 13. Wondering if this will work for readers who are anywhere from 8- to 12-yrs-old...


pearlsue60: LisaMit--the kind of age jumping around you're talking about is possible...but there has to be a very good reason for doing it.

mizkay: Please provide your best three tips on looking for an agent.

JustLiz: { I am all ears}

Verla: Linda? Are you still here?

Amishka: Did she get bumped?

Verla: I don't know, Ami...

pearlsue60: She's still on the list...

MsEdit: she's not on my list anymore

mizkay: she is on mine.

Verla: no? she's on mine

pearlsue60: Figures, MsEdit--I have a moron chat server ;-)

Amishka: Hara was still on the list yesterday and she got bubped

adnil^: she's still on my list too

JannaMH: Two of me have been on the list. Don't trust the list.

pearlsue60: LOL, Janna!

JannaMH: See? There are two Daniels right now.

JannaMH: He cloned.

JustLiz: I have 2 of you too Daniel

adnil^: bummer if we lost the main speaker!

MsEdit: oh, she's got a _ in front of her name

Verla: I'm going to kick her...she's NEVER silent this long...and since her name is still here, she won't be able to get back in unless I kick her name out of the room.

Verla: Hey! I can't even KICK her!

MsEdit: I see her now ... on my list, that is.

Pumpy_: And my name changed

Pumpy_: I'm Dani

Verla: weird!

*** _LindaJoy has been kicked off channel #Kidlit by Verla (Sorry about that!)

Verla: there she went

Verla: Now she should be able to get back in

Amishka: I hope she wasn't typing, Verla

Verla: me, too, ami..but she types WAY too fast for that to be a problem!

Amishka: She's gone

JannaMH: Verla, can you kick the extra Daniel?

DanielJack: Why are there two of me?

JustLiz: Ghosties!

Pumpy_: PARTY!

DanielJack: Strange!

mizkay: she's gone from mine

Verla: Just give her a minute

Verla: She'll be back

*** _LindaJ has joined channel #Kidlit

Verla: there she is!

Verla: Welcome back, Linda

_LindaJ: I'm assuming I got bumped?

MsEdit: wb Linda

Amishka: WB Linda

NOTE: WB = Welcome Back

ClaraRose: Welcome back Linda

_LindaJ: what's the last you heard from me?

MsEdit: Here's the last we heard from you..

MsEdit: _LindaJoy: Daniel--I HAVE outlined some of my stories, and I think it's a great tool to stay focused with, but right now I'm writing almost BLINDLY

_LindaJ: (wow, Kate--I wrote TONS after that comment!)

Pumpy_: wb, Linda

MrsSASE: We missed you so, Linda

_LindaJ: I was talking and talking...and no one asked ANY questions!

mizkay: welcome back.

JustLiz: Glad your back. Hope the bump didn't give you bruses!

_LindaJ: So what questions did I miss?

_LindaJ: Did you get my list of Good things about writing mid-grade?

Verla: No! We missed it, Linda.

JannaMH: Well...I wanted to know if character or plot came first for you.

_LindaJ: Janna--title often comes first with me (g)

JannaMH: LOL! That comes last for me...

mizkay: It must come that way eventually, intuitively?

_LindaJ: But basically, plot comes first with me and then I create a character to fit the plot

pearlsue60: Janna--character with a problem, for me. That's character and plot together! :-)

_LindaJ: the plot and title come first

Verla: mizkay: Please provide your best three tips on looking for an agent.

_LindaJ: okay--for getting an agent...#1. go to conferences, ask friends, query carefully

LisaMit: LJ, here's a question that you missed: I have a question about the MG that I'm writing right now. For the 1st four

JannaMH: Someone has been trying to ask if it's okay to advance a character's age, from 8 to 13.

_LindaJ: Janna--if the character sounds 13, then it's fine

_LindaJ: Age 13 is a great age for mid-grade

_LindaJ: And as for the question about jumping the characters age, that could be tricky to do, but go with what the story needs

Verla: I'm wondering if 4 chapters at the younger age at the very beginning will keep older kids from reading the story, though,....

cagathoc: Don't they usually want to read about someone their age or older?

_LindaJ: yes, cag...that's why my latest books have 15 year old characters

cagathoc: Do you write each chapter like a short story - kind of self contained or write and then divide into chapters later?

_LindaJ: Each of my chapters is usually just one scene, with a cliff-hanger sort of ending

cagathoc: so you want to read the next one...

DanielJack: About how many words is the average mid-grade?

_LindaJ: I think the average mid-grade is about 35-40,000 words

_LindaJ: But it differs with authors and editors

aliceLuh: how many characters do you usually have?

DonaV: linda, does that word count hold for paperback MGs too?

_LindaJ: wordcount is usually 250 words per page--so 100 pages is 25,000 words

_LindaJ: But keep in mind, I'm writing paperback books. For hardback single-title books, you can be more individual

mizkay: What about length of chapters? I have done the cliffhanger thing with my mg too but the chapters are very short. I thought that might be okay given the age I'm writing for, maybe good for reluctant readers too?

_LindaJ: I used to write 3 scenes and chapters about 10-15 pages, but since Goosebumps changed the style, I go with 4-6 page chapters now, one scene

_LindaJ: I think all kids like short chapters

Verla: Kind of like, speeding up the reading process so kids feel like the book is moving faster because the chapters aren't so long, Linda?

_LindaJ: Kids are used to tv's fast pace and quick commericals--it's good to have fast-paced books

aliceLuh: Linda, did you hear my question about number of characters?

_LindaJ: what, alice? (Must have missed it)

aliceLuh: I am just wondering how many characters is typical?

_LindaJ: Alice, do you mean main characters or total characters?

aliceLuh: total.

_LindaJ: Alice--I don't really worry about total characters, but I try not to have too many characters in one scene

cagathoc: Do you have teenagers around the house or just a good memory? <G>

_LindaJ: Cag--I have teenagers, which helps for now

Verla: Linda has two teenagers, but they aren't surly, aren't obnoxious, aren't ornery, aren't even selfish or totally self-centered, so they really don't COUNT as teenagers.

JannaMH: <chuckle> good, Verla.

_LindaJ: Verla--LOL!!

Verla: (I'm still trying to trade my one teenager for her two....)

Amishka: Bruce?

Verla: yes, ami

Verla: LOL

LisaMit: LJ, have you done any historical MG fiction? (I'm wondering if I should have an expert check my ms. for historical accuracy, or will the publishing house do that when reviewing? I think some do.)

JannaMH: Oh, Lisa, I wouldn't leave anything to the pub house that you didn't have to.

_LindaJ: Lisa--no historical yet. The closest was when I researched a historical era for the Sweet Valley Twin I wrote

LisaMit: OK

Amishka: Verla could answer that one

Verla: did some reasearch for your Mission book, too, Linda

_LindaJ: But I think right now the market is still VERY ripe for historical

JannaMH: Get friendly with a history professor.

_LindaJ: In fact, I think historical and non-fiction are the hottest sellers in mid-grade right now

LisaMit: If I approach a hist prof, should I just ask if they'd be willing to read a chapter or two?

_LindaJ: Lisa--maybe our historical writers here can answer that

JannaMH: I'd do it conversationally. Most professors don't mind discussing their passions. Just say, "Hey, tell me something, would a kid in the [era] have this kind of experience? And they'll probably talk right through mealtime.

Verla: It can't HURT to ask a professor if they are willing to check your manuscript for possible errors, LisaMit...the worst they can do is say, NO.

pearlsue60: LisaMit--my answer, no. Not unless you're doubtful of your research--in which case it's not ready to submit anyway, right? For one of my midgrades, the editor sent it out to an expert *after* acceptance.

pearlsue60: Of course, if you are friendly with someone who's an expert in the field, by all means ask them to review it!

pearlsue60: But if you're talkiing about a total stranger, then that's something your publisher will do if s/he thinks it's necessary.

Verla: yes, I agree, Pearl.

Verla: I heard that MillBrook Press will have an expert checking the facts in the biography I just sold them

pearlsue60: Verla--for midgrades, copyeditors do some basic fact-checking too.

Verla: And LisaMit...if you do ask an expert to check the book, be SURE you have some kind of dedication or thank you to that person for their assistance printed in the book

aliceLuh: Excuse me. Linda, how do you handle kids cursing in your books?

_LindaJ: I had a father say "Dam*" but I don't use bad words, will have a sentence: He swore under his breath.

aliceLuh: what do you think a publisher would think of a couple of bad words, if they were in character?

_LindaJ: I know that Judy Blume used a certain F word in one of her books, but it was controversial...not an easy sell for mid-grade

Amishka: But times have changed

pearlsue60: That's right, LJ, cursing is one of the dividing lines for midgrade-YA

aliceLuh: yea, I suspect it is really dicey

_LindaJ: yea, YA you can swear, but not in mid-grade

_LindaJ: In fact, my Sci-Clone series is going to be called YA, but it's at the low end of YA--I include no swearing, no sex, no violence

MelLane: Lucia (my 5th grader) has read several books that have swear words. (She didn't really like it, though)

_LindaJ: And I suspect Pearl's midgrades are the very upper of mid-grade level

DonaV: Linda, I'm confused as to how many books constitutes a series. Are trilogies considered series?

_LindaJ: The official series-book organization says 3 books equals a series

Verla: AhHA....I didn't know that about the number of books that makes up a series, Linda...I thought two would do it. Thanks for asking that question, Dona

MelLane: How hard is it for a beginner to sell a series? And, how do you recommend they attempt it?

_LindaJ: Mel--I would NEVER tell someone not to attempt something, because publishing is built on luck

_LindaJ: But I'll admit it's quite hard to sell a series without an agent...hard, but not impossible

_LindaJ: Since the viewpoint question has been brought up a lot lately...

_LindaJ: I picked up some of my mid-grades (by other authors) and checked viewpoint...just a random choice and guess which was used most?

MelLane: third?

DonaV: first person?

_LindaJ: Nope--3rd person

DonaV: is it 3rd limited or 3rd omniscient?

_LindaJ: (3rd limited!)

Verla: yep. I understand it's mostly 3rd person in MG books and more 1st in YA's.

DanielJack: What is the difference betweent 3rd limited or 3rd omniscient?

_LindaJ: Daniel--3rd person limited means you only write what that 3rd person experiences

pearlsue60: Daniel--third limited, you can only 'see' through one character's eyes--in his/her head. Omniscient, you can be in everybody's head.

_LindaJ: But you seldom find omniscient in mid-grade novels

pearlsue60: LJ--in *today's* midgrades. Lots of omniscient in the oldies!

_LindaJ: true, Pearl...and I have many of those oldies in my collection

DanielJack: That's interesting!......thanks.

_LindaJ: You do find multiple viewpoint, though -- I used 4 viewpoints in my 5th CHEER SQUAD

_LindaJ: I once asked an author I admire a lot if it was better to use first or third person...and she said...

_LindaJ: ...that if you do 3rd person well, it can feel like first person and it's more of a challenge

pearlsue60: Lion Witch Wardrobe--Lewis gives most of the characters a whack, even the troll...

_LindaJ: Certainly some books work well in unusual viewpoints...but I personally prefer 1st or 3rd person

pearlsue60: Unusual viewpoints very big right the recent awards and well-reviewed midgrades...

_LindaJ: But again, I don't want to discourage someone from being their unique self -- it might sell

Dani257: What kind of unusual?

_LindaJ: I haven't read the most recent books, so Pearl knows more (g)

DonaV: linda, what about mixing/using first person and third person in the same book?

MelLane: yes, linda, what about mixing them?

Verla: I don't know about others, Dona...but I personally wouldn't read a book with two different kinds of viewpoints like that. I find them confusing and frustrating..but of course, it would all depend on HOW they were used...and if they were used to lead the reader into a certain state of mind, then perhaps they would be fantastic and the book would be a trend-setter. LOL

_LindaJ: Dona--normally I would say that would be very odd to mix viewpoints...except that I'm doing it

pearlsue60: Daniel, some examples: Two POVs--Armageddon Summer. Five POVs--View from Saturday. 23 POVs--Bat 6. 14 POVs--Making Up Megaboy.

NOTE: POV = Point of View

pearlsue60: Holes--Storytelling at two different levels, one third limited, the other third omniscient, two different time frames.

JannaMH: 23 POVs? Wow.

DanielJack: And most of those seem to be new, popular books!

Dani257: That brings up another question. Is it wise to read up on current books?

pearlsue60: Dani--my answer would be to rephrase your question slightly. To me it is *essential* to read up on GREAT books, current and past!

Verla: Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES, Dani! Reading the current books is the BEST way to see what publishers and readers today are looking for.

JannaMH: And may I remind you all that you *can* deduct books purchased for research as a business expense for tax purposes...<G>

pearlsue60: Verla--but remember, not a good idea to read current books looking for 'trends'. Books published today were accepted between two and four years ago. If you try to trend-spot from them, you'll be way behind the game. Write from your heart instead!

Dani257: So, are there some things that won't work anymore in books today that did yesterday?

Verla: Lodia? Are you Linda?

Lodia: No, It's Mel.

Verla: AWK. Mel! You have been cloned! You're back in another guise.

Lodia: I got STUCK... please kick me! (G)

Verla: Okay. Sheesh.

*** MelLane has been kicked off channel #Kidlit by Verla (Sorry about that!)

Lodia: Thanks! (rubbing rear)

*** _LindaJoy has joined channel #Kidlit

Verla: There she is!

_LindaJoy: I was bumped again, right?

JannaMH: No, Verla kicked you <GGG>

Dani257: Hold Verla's feet down

Verla: Yes, so I bumped your leftover body

_LindaJoy: hey, Verla!

_LindaJoy: geez---and here I was typing away....

Verla: Only your clone, linda!

Verla: I only bumped the you that WASN'T you

_LindaJoy: (Hey, I have been researching clones lately)

_LindaJoy: Okay--what question am I on now?

Lodia: Did you answer the one about multiple viewpoints?

_LindaJoy: I was talking about doing my book in 1st person but with 3rd person italic chapters....

_LindaJoy: I LIKE multiple viewpoints if clearly defined

Verla: You stopped in midsentence,'s what we heard before you disappeared..._LindaJ: Dona--normally I would say that would be very odd to mix viewpoints...except that I'm doing it

_LindaJoy: thanks, V

Lodia: What is your suggestion on clearly defining them?

_LindaJoy: I use the italic short chapters, so they look different

_LindaJoy: When I wrote CHEER SQUAD #5, each girl had a journal

_LindaJoy: so when she wrote her viewpoint in the journal, the print was different

Verla: Ahhh, now in a case like THAT, I can see how the two viewpoints would work well..

_LindaJoy: (That was a really fun book if anyone ever sees it)

_LindaJoy: I had 4 viewpoints in CHEER #5

Dani257: kind of like the Babysitters Club books?

_LindaJoy: yup--but then I write paperback originals, so they have a certain similarity to them

adnil^: better than the Babysitter Club!

Dani257: Naturally

DonaV: At the very least, you would probably want to change chapters when you changed viewpoints, right?

_LindaJoy: yes, Dona .. I would personally not mix viewpoints in the same chapter

Verla: I would, Dona. (change chapters with each viewpoint change)

Verla: AWK! Only five minutes left! you have anything special you want to say before we run out of time? Or should we just ask everyone to bombard you with questions?

_LindaJoy: Well, I was going to talk about using kid-like dialogue

_LindaJoy: And I wanted to say to write the stories that EXCITE you

_LindaJoy: Most sales will be hardback, except for series, and to sell

_LindaJoy: a hardback the stories have to be LARGE -- offer more than just a fun story

Verla: What about the dialogue???

Leesius: Please talk about kid dialogue!

Lodia: Please!

Verla: Yes, since we "lost" you for a few minutes, Linda...I think we can afford to run the workshop over for a couple of minutes to make up for your lost time.

Verla: (She disappeared on PURPOSE just to get extra time, I bet, gang....)

_LindaJoy: sure, Verla (g)

_LindaJoy: Okay--kid dialogue isn't really how kids speak, it's how EDITORS think kids speak

Leesius: GOOOOOD Point Linda!

_LindaJoy: So to learn this, you have to study published books

_LindaJoy: The best way to really feel the dialogue is to read it aloud

  _LindaJoy: Note the slang that's used, the movement tags

Dani257: Ah, another good reason to read the current books

Verla: I find when writing dialogue, that it helps a LOT to say it OUT LOUD

Verla: Then I can hear what sounds stupid, unreal

_LindaJoy: When you read it silently, you don't pick up the same rhythm of spoken words

DonaV: I actually read all my writing out loud. Not just dialogue. May sound silly, but you sure do catch a lot of your mistakes.

_LindaJoy: very true, Dona...outloud is SO easy, yet it works

Verla: Doesn't sound silly at ALL to me, Dona. I catch a LOT of rough spots and errors by reading aloud

_LindaJoy: There's a rhythm in words and if you listen, you can write it

JannaMH: Is current media--sitcoms, movies--a good source for what is believed to be kidspeak?

Verla: ohhh. Good question, Janna!

Verla leans forward to hear Linda's answer

_LindaJoy: yes, Janna!

_LindaJoy: I advise you to watch kid shows and read their magazines

Verla: Ah HA

Leesius: Another GOOOOD point, Linda!

_LindaJoy: In fact, when I wanted to write edgier, I read the (ex) magazine SASSY before I went to bed

JannaMH: Sassy! EX?

JannaMH: How sad. There's another now, though, similar concept.

_LindaJoy: (Sassy isn't being published anymore--but many new edgy ones are)

_LindaJoy: (Note: editors still tell me I'm not edgy enough!)

Lodia: What do you mean by "edgy"?

_LindaJoy: edgy is a sharper feel to language and rhythm...often it's cynicism

JannaMH: Sarcasm.

JannaMH: Street-wise attitude.

Leesius: As a 6th grade teacher, it's unfortunate but I can say that what's on TV really ISN'T what kids speak that often. Only a few of them.

Lodia: I love PEPPER ANN on Saturday mornings.

_LindaJoy: But what's on tv is how EDITORS usually perceive kids speaking

_LindaJoy: I once had an editor make me change a school scene because they didn't understand schools with open grass areas

Amishka: Oh no!

Verla: what, Linda????? They wouldn't let you write about what you KNOW?

_LindaJoy: Verla--they didn't understand Calif school styles

Lodia: Texas, too, Linda.

Leesius: Is anyone else bothered by the fact that we have to unwrite things that we know are true just because that's the way the EDITOR wants it. What kind of books is that giving to kids???

_LindaJoy: Leesius--once you have a working relationship with an editor, you can relax and be yourself more

_LindaJoy: It's the SELLING to an editor in the first place that's a challenge

Leesius: Good to know that, Linda...

Lodia: But if you're writing regional and that's not part of the region, do you still put it in?

Lodia: What if these things don't fit the region you're writing about?

DonaV: speaking of regions, is it best to pin your book down to a specific region, even if it could take place anywhere.

_LindaJoy: I'm not sure, Dona...I use California mostly because I've never lived anywhere else

Verla: I think it's better, Dona...because that way all your facts will mesh well

_LindaJoy: You can always point out the facts ... I just found it easier to comply in that case

Verla: And the publisher will usually require changes anyhow...


DanielJack: But you still want to keep each character's dialogue distinctive, right?

_LindaJoy: It's always good to make the characters different, give certain traits to identify

_LindaJoy: Also for those writing YA's or mid-grades with older characters,

_LindaJoy: be careful about having them drive -- CA just changed the laws

woolfff: Linda, could you please make a 'sassy' statement, then rephrase into an 'edgy' one?

_LindaJoy: woolff...I don't know if I can on short notice (g)

Verla: And then...we are going to have to close, folks....because now even our extended deadline has expired.

_LindaJoy: Edgy isn't so much the words used, but it's the attitude of the kids

Verla: Like harder?

Leesius: Sassy would be kinda Valley Girl-like. Edgy would be a bit more street-smart type of phrasology.

Verla: Ohhh. Good comparison, Leesius

_LindaJoy: I meant "Sassy" as in the magazine that used to be a rival to TEEN until TEEN bought it out

_LindaJoy: If you have any old TEEN Magazines, I wrote one story for them that's quite edgy

_LindaJoy: any last questions?

LisaMit: THANK YOU, Linda Joy, Verla, and everyone else who has been so helpful!

Lodia: Wonderful, Linda! What I could get in to hear.

ClaraRose: Good job, Linda

Dani257: Great job, Linda!

Verla: Pearl said to tell you this, Linda...she had to leave....I have to go now. Please tell Linda Joy from me, super workshop!

Leesius: Thanks for a great time Linda, all ten minutes that I got in. Just got back from a (ugh) dental appointment!

_LindaJoy: thanks everyone!

DanielJack: Thank you Linda!!

_Enchanted: Thank you, Linda and Verla.

Windy2u1: Thanks Linda

woolfff: Great, Linda!

_LindaJoy: email me if I missed

DonaV: LOT'S of helpful information, Linda!

KarmaWilso: Thanks Linda! What I heard was GREAT!

Verla: Wonderful workshop, Linda! Yeah!!!!!!

MrsSASE: Thank you, was wonderful.

DonaV: Great workshop!

Verla: Whistle whistle STOMP STOMP STOMP!

DonSS_: Thanks Linda

_Enchanted: Who brought the silly string? Revenge is sweet, y'know.

_LindaJoy: you're all welcome...and I'm exhaling a huge breath--lotsa typing!

DonaV leads a round of applause for Linda

Harazin: Thanks Linda--Sorry I was late--I had trouble getting in.

JannaMH hits Linda in the chest with red silly string

_LindaJoy: There's still so much about mid-grade I'm learning, wasn't sure if I was qualified to talk about it

Lodia showers Linda with confetti...

_LindaJoy: I like red silly string

MrsSASE: You did a great job

DonaV: You did an excellent job, Linda!

Lodia: Of COURSE you qualify, Linda!

Immatek: Thank You very much

JannaMH: It was great, Linda, thanks.

DonSS_: edgy is what the senate is trying to avoid at all cost on TV. LOL

KarmaWilso: I have a question for the published folks....

_LindaJoy: Karma--you are now one of the published folks!

KarmaWilso: Well, more experienced then!

Dani257: Someone ask Karma a question:-)

NOTE: :-) = A sideways smiley face

KarmaWilso: A freind of mine from Englad works in the Putnam division over there (which is HUGE)

KarmaWilso: And she talked to an acquisition editor there who might be interested in Bear Snores On, and would like to see it.

KarmaWilso: How DO foriegn rights work???

KarmaWilso: Do they wait for the book to be published?

_LindaJoy: it's up to your agent, Karma

DonaV: karma, usually your agent handles that. Give HIM the info and he'll probably follow up on it

_LindaJoy: Karma--they usually wait, but with Steve they might just beat the U.S.

KarmaWilso: Oh, I know he'll handle it.

KarmaWilso: I just don't want to ask him a dumb question.

DonaV: It's not dumb to give him a CONTACT. It's SMART!

_LindaJoy: When my CHEER books were in manuscript only, my agent looked into the Germany market--but it didn't sell

KarmaWilso: LOL! I don't know what's smart and dumb.

KarmaWilso: I'm a duck out of water.

Dani257: Isn't that fish?

DonSS_: Asking dumb questions Karma is one way of becoming wiser. That's a fact.

_LindaJoy: ah--I just found the TEEN Magazine I wrote my "edgy" story in

DonaV: what issue, linda?

_LindaJoy: If anyone has old TEEN, I wrote the story in Oct. 1990 called I DARE YOU

Verla: Thanks, Linda! This was great. :-)




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