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“You enter the extraordinary by way of the ordinary.” ~Frederick Buechner

Friday, April 3, 2015


Workshop: An Introduction to Writing for Children and Young Adults

“The memories must turn to blood within us before the images, ideas, the sounds of the heart can come forth.”  Katherine Paterson

Hopefully you enjoyed working on the journal exercises last week and are discovering a voice or theme that you want to develop. Don’t worry if you are still not sure about an age for your personal voice. The other side of voice is the story’s voice, which is usually heard through the narrator. So first, it’s important to recognize the voices of each age category, and then hear how they develop into genre, which we’ll look at next week.

All of the below divisions are general. And each publishing house may have specific guidelines for their readers within each category division.  If you have a particular publisher that you enjoy, request a copy of their catalogue if there isn’t one online.

 Twice a year Publisher’s Weekly puts out a specific issue geared solely for the children and young adult markets. It’s an excellent resource to study publishing houses and new trends. Check out your local library for a copy of the most recent edition. Note which books grab your interest and why and write them down in your idea file, or reading file. However, also remember that the market changes at a rapid pace, so it’s more important to find out what age and genre and topic you love rather than follow trends, which can change in an instant. 


Picture books: Tend to separate into two main categories age wise. Ages 3-6 are predominately the more familiar versions where the author and illustrator’s talent merge to create a visual and auditory voice that invites their readers into a new experience.
 Storybooks lean more to the 4-8 year olds and are heavier in text with illustrations that maybe highlights as opposed to integrated storytelling—basically both text and illustrations could stand on their own. However both categories also intermix across all ages, which can add a little confusion.

Easy readers: Predominately for ages 7-9, 1,000-1,500 words.
For Pre-school-1st grade there is often repetition and simple concepts.
            For 2nd –3rd grades there is a more developed plot and more complex sentences.

Chapter Books: Age range usually stretches from 7-10, 40-80 pages, 1,500-10,000 words, usually 8-10 short chapters.

Middle-grade 9-12, 10,000-16,000 words, 64-150 pages, and usually contains cliffhangers, even for the quiet stories.

YA 12 + can range from 120-150 pages on average, (to much longer depending on genre and publisher) 16,000 words, and can address complex subjects. Many houses differentiate between the lower age of 12 to 15 with some subject and language boundaries, but accept more intensity with the upper end of 15 to 18, as long as the material is pertinent to the story itself and not gratuitous.

Action Steps:

1.     Choose one memory from last week’s action steps that really caught you by surprise and/or intensity.

2.     Pick two age categories from the list above. Find one publisher’s online catalogue and read the blurbs for them.  Notice which ones you begin to skim over and which grab your interest.

3.     Now draft your moment as a blurb for each of your two categories.

Share: Do you find yourself leaning towards a particular age yet? Why? And are you surprised?

Read deep, marcy

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"The Seeker" Rachel Marks | Content Copyright Marcy Weydemuller | Site by Eagle Designs
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