The Fun of Writing a Middle Grade Novel

Coming up with the main character wasn’t difficult at all. Maybe I shouldn’t say that. Maybe I should say I spent sleepless nights, endless days in turmoil over the identity of my protagonist. But I didn’t. His name just came to me.

He’s a freckle-faced kid, twelve years old, in the seventh grade. He’s been in love with the same girl since first grade, she just doesn’t know it. In fact, he’s never spoken to her even though they were in the same class twice in elementary school, and now have two classes together. He’s been writing poems and love notes to her since he was six, and still has each one. They’re hidden in a tin box behind a trap door in his closet on the second floor of the old house.

There is another girl driving him crazy, but for different reasons. She’s perfectly perfect. Plays the piano, dresses like a beauty queen, thinks she’s the answer to every question, and likes him.

He and his best friend have been inseparable since second grade when they threw up on their desks at the same time. It seemed planned, but obviously wasn’t. His friend lives on a dairy farm and hates it. The two wish they could trade lives.

His family has owned the hardware store in town for several generations. His father dreams of him taking over the store one day, and he wants nothing to do with it.

Singing “Springtime in My Love’s Caress” in choir class is almost the worst part of his day. “…feeling such a warmth within my breast…” is too much. He can’t sing it.

I read excerpts of my MG novel to classes of middle grade students. I was pleased with their response. Especially when I sang “Softly, softly, sweeping through the meadow, feeling such a warmth within my breast…”. The boys turned red. Just what I was looking for. I told my seventh grade Psychology History class that when the book is published I will include all of their names in the acknowledgements.

Query letter, synopsis, word-count, outline, chapters, editing, thinking, re-thinking, thinking again. It was really sort of a let-down when I typed, “The End”. I missed the characters. Watching them develop and evolve was exciting. I wonder what they’re thinking now.