Comment to 'I wonder if some of you lovely folks would cast an eye over my 2...'
  • Hi Kate,

    It's fun to see Chapter two. I really like your story idea.

    Alison has given you some fantastic feedback. I agree with everything she said. The only thing I would add, but I've said it before with your first chapter, I think you need to get rid of the adults. I'm posting part of an article that might help you :

    Children’s editor Cheryl Klein has since covered this topic in her newsletter and has some useful advice. She writes:

    In present reality, kids must be supervised at all times or parents can be accused of negligence — and many kids like such supervision, in my understanding, or may not want to be without their parents or break the rules. And yet it is also a Great Law of Children’s Literature that any middle-grade novel must be centered on a child who is free to act as necessary, who will drive the action and ultimately solve the story, and grown-ups, by their very nature, get in the way of all of that. It will be very difficult to find an editor who does not believe in this Great Law, so It seems to me you have three options here:

    1. Quash your instincts. If you’re protecting your characters and making sure they’re always adequately supervised, you are acting like your characters’ mother. As much as you might love your characters, you need to remember you are not their mother:  You’re their Fight Club manager, and it’s your job to get them into trouble, or let them get themselves into trouble, and then maximize that drama on behalf of readers. This can be hard to do, but if you want to write an adventure, you have to let go.

    2. Find a way to make the adults less responsible or less able to save the day. The circumstances will depend on the plot of your novel and the nature of your characters, but:  Perhaps the mom is an alcoholic or works the night shift, so while she’s around, she’s not always reliable as a guide. Or perhaps the dad knows he’s a helicopter parent, so he’s consciously trying to step back and have his kid take more risks. Or perhaps the terms of the adventure dictate (for whatever reason) that only a person under the age of 18 can solve the final puzzle. Something like that might let the parents be present, but still provide a limitation on their powers that allows the child to act.

    3. Shape your novel for a market where adult-centrism will be appreciated. I’m not sure about this one, but perhaps your book could work in the Christian children’s fiction market, where readers might appreciate more deference to parental authority?

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    • Great article, Julie. Love the ‘you are not their mother. You’re their fight club manager...’

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      • Thanks Julie. I’m glad you like the idea. That gives me hope it can turn into a book eventually! Having read everyone’s advice and watched more lovely JW webinars I am starting to have more confidence that I know where to go. I am going to get a red pen! There are lots of things that need cutting to make it more relevant and give it more pace. I don’t want to remove the adults altogether. Lots of children’s books, although centred on the kids, have parents, grandparents, teachers, shopkeepers etc. Biff, Chip and Kipper do, Lots of Jeremy Strong books do, even David Walliams books do. But I agree that they need to not get in the way of the kids’ running the show so I am going to prune them a bit! Thanks again for taking the time.

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        • I'm glad to help. You've got a great story and I'm sure you'll figure out a way to make it work with the adults. Plotting is so hard! I'm still trying to figure my storyline out after more than a year😞

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