For today’s Writing Corner, I’m going to talk about
categorising your novel by age. I see a lot of people on Twitter and forums who
aren’t sure where their novel fits, or how much it matters. If you want to be
published, it does matter, because that is how the publishing industry
categorises fiction, but don’t get too hung up on it.
Middle grade (MG)
MG is generally written for, and features characters, aged
from around 8 to 13 years old. These books are usually shorter than young adult
books, and don’t have as much romance or violence. They often (but not always)
have fun adventures and although they can touch on more serious subject matter,
don’t explore it in as much detail as young adult books.
Young adult (YA)
YA is aimed roughly at those aged 13-18, with characters in
that same age range, though characters are most commonly 15-18 years old. YA explores
more serious subject matter than MG, including more mature content, with
romance playing a much bigger role. YA also has more self-reflection and
focuses more on the personal evolution of a central character. These novels are
often coming of age, looking at the ups and downs of being a teenager. They can
explore relationships, sex, mental illness, death etc. far more than MG. As
well as this, they can often present more of a reflection on our society and
current issues, and explore the characters finding their place in the world.
My writing journey, as far as I can remember, started when I was nine years old. I probably dabbled in writing before then, but there is a particular time that I really remember properly getting into it. For my grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary all of their closest family met up during the Easter holidays in 2006, including me and my parents. To keep me entertained, I had a little green notepad, which I started writing short stories in. I still have this notepad! At the time I was very interested in Ancient Greece as we had been studying it at school, particularly myths. So I wrote my own myths and even drew little drawings to go with them.
The next thing I remember working on was a series of stories probably inspired by Tomb Raider: Legend, which was the first proper single-player action game I played. I wrote two ‘books’ in the series (they were very, very short, only a few pages).
Only a year later in 2008, I advanced to planning an epic fantasy series. Probably as a result of reading The Lord of the Rings. I spent ages drawing maps and characters. I wrote 23,000 words of the first book, which is a pretty substantial amount compared to my previous efforts. I dabbled in the other books in the series (they were connected but separate ‘parts’ of an overall series), and wrote around 42,000 words of the series in total over the course of about three years.
For this month’s Halloween freebie, this list contains scary books and creepy characters or creatures. I haven’t read enough horror books to make a list of spine-tingling novels, so I’ve gone for a mixed list of generally creepy things.
1) The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray by Chris Wooding – I first read this book years ago and remember finding the Wych-kin scary. There’s something really spooky about this book, maybe it’s also the underlying Jack the Ripper vibes in one of the subplots, but it’s definitely a creepy book.
2) Jonathan in the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare – I always found Jonathan to be a creepier and more interesting villain than Valentine.