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Writing Irresistible KidLit: The Ultimate Guide to Crafting Fiction for Young Adult and Middle Grade Readers

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Writing for young adult (YA) and middle grade (MG) audiences isn't just "kid's stuff" anymore--it's kidlit! The YA and MG book markets are healthier and more robust than ever, and that means the competition is fiercer, too. In Writing Irresistible Kidlit, literary agent Mary Kole shares her expertise on writing novels for young adult and middle grade readers and teaches yo Writing for young adult (YA) and middle grade (MG) audiences isn't just "kid's stuff" anymore--it's kidlit! The YA and MG book markets are healthier and more robust than ever, and that means the competition is fiercer, too. In Writing Irresistible Kidlit, literary agent Mary Kole shares her expertise on writing novels for young adult and middle grade readers and teaches you how to: Recognize the differences between middle grade and young adult audiences and how it impacts your writing. Tailor your manuscript's tone, length, and content to your readership. Avoid common mistakes and cliches that are prevalent in YA and MG fiction, in respect to characters, story ideas, plot structure and more. Develop themes and ideas in your novel that will strike emotional chords. Mary Kole's candid commentary and insightful observations, as well as a collection of book excerpts and personal insights from bestselling authors and editors who specialize in the children's book market, are invaluable tools for your kidlit career. If you want the skills, techniques, and know-how you need to craft memorable stories for teens and tweens, Writing Irresistible Kidlit can give them to you.


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Writing for young adult (YA) and middle grade (MG) audiences isn't just "kid's stuff" anymore--it's kidlit! The YA and MG book markets are healthier and more robust than ever, and that means the competition is fiercer, too. In Writing Irresistible Kidlit, literary agent Mary Kole shares her expertise on writing novels for young adult and middle grade readers and teaches yo Writing for young adult (YA) and middle grade (MG) audiences isn't just "kid's stuff" anymore--it's kidlit! The YA and MG book markets are healthier and more robust than ever, and that means the competition is fiercer, too. In Writing Irresistible Kidlit, literary agent Mary Kole shares her expertise on writing novels for young adult and middle grade readers and teaches you how to: Recognize the differences between middle grade and young adult audiences and how it impacts your writing. Tailor your manuscript's tone, length, and content to your readership. Avoid common mistakes and cliches that are prevalent in YA and MG fiction, in respect to characters, story ideas, plot structure and more. Develop themes and ideas in your novel that will strike emotional chords. Mary Kole's candid commentary and insightful observations, as well as a collection of book excerpts and personal insights from bestselling authors and editors who specialize in the children's book market, are invaluable tools for your kidlit career. If you want the skills, techniques, and know-how you need to craft memorable stories for teens and tweens, Writing Irresistible Kidlit can give them to you.

30 review for Writing Irresistible KidLit: The Ultimate Guide to Crafting Fiction for Young Adult and Middle Grade Readers

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Peto

    Perhaps I beat a dead dog by reading writing books. I have a long list of goals when I do but actually realizing them requires an elusive, intangible application of knowledge, call it skill or talent if you like, a lament I’ve made at the start of one of these reviews at least one other time. The process is worthwhile and satisfying though - call me old-fashioned. I also sincerely believe writing can be taught. I just hope it does not take 10,000 hours of practice or a million words of tenacious Perhaps I beat a dead dog by reading writing books. I have a long list of goals when I do but actually realizing them requires an elusive, intangible application of knowledge, call it skill or talent if you like, a lament I’ve made at the start of one of these reviews at least one other time. The process is worthwhile and satisfying though - call me old-fashioned. I also sincerely believe writing can be taught. I just hope it does not take 10,000 hours of practice or a million words of tenacious writing. I’m willing to sell out in a shorter amount of time, people! After at least ten years of weekends, I’m not even half way there! I’ll show some restraint, I hope, and some decency, with a quick review: Writing Irresistible KidLit contains useful knowledge, especially if you enjoy reviews of the basics and the semi-basics. A lot of it was familiar: character, plot, imagery, big ideas. Most of that was not specific to writing for the middle grade or YA markets, which did not surprise me. About twenty pages at the beginning addresses the middle grade and YA markets and the mindsets of those readers. It was not exhaustive, but it was thoughtful. Although I read The Horn Book regularly, I benefited. One of the best things were the excerpts. The examples, mainly from her clients’ books I believe (the author is a literary agent), were often interesting, even illuminating. It’s worthwhile, but don’t let reading this eat into your writing time, though that’s always true, isn’t it?

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ashlee Willis

    Ok ... THIS is an awesome book. There is advice here for any writer who is seeking to WRITE young adult or middle grade fiction. I emphasize "write" because so many books now focus on publishing, promoting, platform, marketing, pitching, etc., etc., ETC.!! This book, however, focuses solely on writing in its purest form - the CRAFT of writing. The advice is wonderful, thoughtful, and so clearly written that no writer could read this book and not walk away with something gained from it. Kole does Ok ... THIS is an awesome book. There is advice here for any writer who is seeking to WRITE young adult or middle grade fiction. I emphasize "write" because so many books now focus on publishing, promoting, platform, marketing, pitching, etc., etc., ETC.!! This book, however, focuses solely on writing in its purest form - the CRAFT of writing. The advice is wonderful, thoughtful, and so clearly written that no writer could read this book and not walk away with something gained from it. Kole does an excellent job of pinpointing the areas that writers need to work on the most - the important things - and then clearly illustrating how to shape your own writing accordingly. She gives loads of examples from her own "shelves" to help get her point across in each chapter. Another great thing is the lists of writing exercises that accompany many of her sections, which - if completed - are an enormous help in grasping the ideas she is trying to get across. VERY in-depth look at writing for children and teens. I loved the differences that Kole makes between MG and YA as well - because there IS a difference and it is important to understand it before you begin writing in either of these groups. Recommend, recommend, RECOMMEND!!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lynley

    The title promises a lot, and the author is certainly qualified, with a background in writing, publishing and acting. The first and last chapters are all about the publishing industry, so the title should really say something about 'writing AND PUBLISHING' kidlit. Actually, this dates the book somewhat, with the assumption that everyone is still interested in the traditional publishing route, completely putting aside that a lot of new writers will have decided to self-publish. But even if you do The title promises a lot, and the author is certainly qualified, with a background in writing, publishing and acting. The first and last chapters are all about the publishing industry, so the title should really say something about 'writing AND PUBLISHING' kidlit. Actually, this dates the book somewhat, with the assumption that everyone is still interested in the traditional publishing route, completely putting aside that a lot of new writers will have decided to self-publish. But even if you do prefer the traditional route, if you're a regular reader of the biggest publishing blogs, these chapters may not offer much. The rest of the book might offer a lot, if this were the first book on writing that you'd ever read, and if you've stayed away from the chestnuts of writing groups. Instead of this book, you might read Self-Editing For Fiction Writers for the technical bits, Save The Cat and McKee for the plotting bits, and Bird By Bird for the inspirational bits. Kole's chapter on 'Advanced' Kidlit is nothing of the sort, and borders on condescending. Imagery is a part of the Year 10 English curriculum where I come from. What this book does offer that other (non kidlit) writing books don't is examples from the kidlit world. But as acknowledged by the author herself, out of context some of those excerpts can't teach much. Better to read the whole book. In the end, maybe the thing I took away is that writing for kids isn't all that different from writing for adults. Apart from the voice, which Kole doesn't manage to describe any better than most. Better off just 'absorbing' voice by reading lots of great writing than trying to pin it down, I conclude. And as Maria Nikolajeva writes in 'Children's Literature Comes Of Age': 'There is still another viewpoint which research on children's literature has quite ignored, and that is to approach children's literature as literature.' She points out that the writing of Astrid Lindgren, when analysed, is more demanding than the average book written for adults. In this book I guess I was just hoping for something more rigorous, and for something more specifically about kidlit. I was hoping for the kidlit equivalent of James Wood's 'How Fiction Works', which really made me think in a new way about... well, how fiction works. That, too, has a big title that promises some sort of breadth, and isn't anything of the sort, but I'd recommend that book to any writer. This book has introduced me to some excellent kidlit though, and I've now got some excellent new YA books on my to-read list.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    This is a thorough, top notch writer's guide. Mary Kole brings years of solid experience and insight to the art of writing literature for younger audiences. She highlights specific kid lit categories, and shows how to craft stories that meet their criteria. In terms of characterization, plotting, tone, length, etc., she shows what to do as well as what not to do in order to make your writing stand out in a very competitive market. Highly recommended. This is a thorough, top notch writer's guide. Mary Kole brings years of solid experience and insight to the art of writing literature for younger audiences. She highlights specific kid lit categories, and shows how to craft stories that meet their criteria. In terms of characterization, plotting, tone, length, etc., she shows what to do as well as what not to do in order to make your writing stand out in a very competitive market. Highly recommended.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Melanie Kilsby

    This was such a great resource and was an insightful guide for writing KidLit. I wish there wasn't swearing (which took me a bit to hurdle through), but the examples she gave through literature that was on the market today, and the way she explained how to craft Literature geared towards kids, was superb! It confirmed what I was doing and helped me to achieve things I never truly considered thoroughly. This was such a great resource and was an insightful guide for writing KidLit. I wish there wasn't swearing (which took me a bit to hurdle through), but the examples she gave through literature that was on the market today, and the way she explained how to craft Literature geared towards kids, was superb! It confirmed what I was doing and helped me to achieve things I never truly considered thoroughly.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Patti

    I had the dubious honor of receiving one of Ms. Kole's form rejections last summer. And after finishing this book I know why. In the second to last chapter she discusses queries/submissions. And to quote her: If you're only getting form declines, something's not working, and I'm betting it's your writing sample. Yes, your writing sample. Not your query, as so many writers hope. We can overlook a heinous query if the writing is brilliant, but never the other way around. (pg 259) The good thing is, I had the dubious honor of receiving one of Ms. Kole's form rejections last summer. And after finishing this book I know why. In the second to last chapter she discusses queries/submissions. And to quote her: If you're only getting form declines, something's not working, and I'm betting it's your writing sample. Yes, your writing sample. Not your query, as so many writers hope. We can overlook a heinous query if the writing is brilliant, but never the other way around. (pg 259) The good thing is, is that the entire book before this quote give us concrete examples on how to stop getting those form rejections. How our writing must sing, be fresh, deep and true, all at the same time. There is something to the adage one must write a million words before becoming an real writer. There were a lot of things in this book that opened my eyes. Her chapter on Big Ideas, Characters, and Plots held so many gems I can't list them all. My daughter gave me an appalled look when she saw me underlining sentences in red. But it needed to be done. The only reason why I've given this book only four stars is because I really wished she'd have put a chapter about revision in there including a look at how she approaches revising her clients' books. But maybe she's saving that for book 2. I can only hope that after applying and incorporating her thoughts on writing, the next time I query Ms. Kole, I'll at least get a personalized rejection. I'll consider that a success.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kita

    Most books for writers are written by writers, which makes sense of course. Writing Irresistible Kidlit is written by an agent. She offers an interesting perspective. For example, she includes several lists of clichés that she sees all the time in the slush pile (plot clichés, character clichés, opening scene clichés etc.) And she has lots of tidbits of good advice, like: "Never be satisfied with the level of conflict you've engineered. Always twist it, always find a way to make it worse... But Most books for writers are written by writers, which makes sense of course. Writing Irresistible Kidlit is written by an agent. She offers an interesting perspective. For example, she includes several lists of clichés that she sees all the time in the slush pile (plot clichés, character clichés, opening scene clichés etc.) And she has lots of tidbits of good advice, like: "Never be satisfied with the level of conflict you've engineered. Always twist it, always find a way to make it worse... But be careful - high stakes should never slide into histrionics. Melodrama happens when big emotions clash with a too-thin underlying Objective." and "In an effort to technically dodge the "Show, don't tell" bullet, a lot of writers have taken the external route to conveying character emotions: rumbling stomachs, beating hearts, twisting guts... and on and on.... If I were to go on an actual stage and check my watch or tap my foot to convey impatience, a director would yell at me for being way too obvious. But novelists do this all the time." Some of the book was geared to beginning writers (lots of basic definitions), but I think writers at any stage could learn from it. And she offers a lot of advice that isn't just relevant to YA and MG authors.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Claire Caterer

    I used to devour books on writing. Now I rarely pick one up, mostly because I realized I needed to spend more time doing the writing and less time reading about doing the writing. But I attended a lecture by Mary Kole at my local SCBWI chapter conference last fall and was intrigued enough to buy her book. And really, no matter where you are in your writing career, this book has lots to teach you. Kole gives real-world examples of what she's talking about in terms of published YA/MG novels. She of I used to devour books on writing. Now I rarely pick one up, mostly because I realized I needed to spend more time doing the writing and less time reading about doing the writing. But I attended a lecture by Mary Kole at my local SCBWI chapter conference last fall and was intrigued enough to buy her book. And really, no matter where you are in your writing career, this book has lots to teach you. Kole gives real-world examples of what she's talking about in terms of published YA/MG novels. She offers advice on each topic from other writers and editors. And she gives you exercises to do-- but not hippy-dippy exercises that don't apply to your work. She has you think about these topics in terms of your own novel. She writes concretely and specifically. She doesn't tell you how to write a best seller--just how to write your best story. I can't recommend this book highly enough--just go read it. You won't be sorry.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Audrey

    Fantastic. Don't make my mistake and read it after you've written your first novel. Read it first. How-to for everything. Fantastic. Don't make my mistake and read it after you've written your first novel. Read it first. How-to for everything.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Wow. Like the title states, this really is "The Ultimate Guide" for writing "kidlit." A few things I loved about this book: - Ms. Kole uses excerpts from 35 kidlit books to illustrate the writing craft techniques. - The whole book is a lesson on good "voice." Her book uses a conversational tone that made it feel like she was just sitting at the table teaching me. - The market sections. She gives an overview of the YA and MG markets, the YA and MG mindset, and the business side of getting your book Wow. Like the title states, this really is "The Ultimate Guide" for writing "kidlit." A few things I loved about this book: - Ms. Kole uses excerpts from 35 kidlit books to illustrate the writing craft techniques. - The whole book is a lesson on good "voice." Her book uses a conversational tone that made it feel like she was just sitting at the table teaching me. - The market sections. She gives an overview of the YA and MG markets, the YA and MG mindset, and the business side of getting your book traditionally published. - The craft sections. She talks about how to come up with a "big idea," great storytelling, developing irresistible characters and plot, and "advance kidlit," like using imagery and setting, word choice and voice, and authority and authenticity. I'm going to read it again with a highlighter and sticky notes in hand. It is truly the YA and MG writer's bible. Go forth and read!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Terri Lynn

    This is okay if you want to write middle grade and YA fiction but is too serious and stuffy for me. It is like reading an encyclopedia article by a PhD. Stuffy and boring and dull, oh my! There is a lack of examples. If you are looking for an interesting, conversational guide that is full of examples and real help, this isn't for you. Move on along. This is okay if you want to write middle grade and YA fiction but is too serious and stuffy for me. It is like reading an encyclopedia article by a PhD. Stuffy and boring and dull, oh my! There is a lack of examples. If you are looking for an interesting, conversational guide that is full of examples and real help, this isn't for you. Move on along.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Danielle Burns

    Read this How-To Book with a notebook by my side. I’m so glad I did, otherwise it would have been twice it’s size with all the post it tabs I would have wanted to add! The author (a US literary agent) reinforces all the old themes about setting, characterisation & theme but does so with practical examples from well known US kidlit along with insightful comments from other literary agents & publishers. There are exercises to complete at the end of each chapter and although I skipped a few most of Read this How-To Book with a notebook by my side. I’m so glad I did, otherwise it would have been twice it’s size with all the post it tabs I would have wanted to add! The author (a US literary agent) reinforces all the old themes about setting, characterisation & theme but does so with practical examples from well known US kidlit along with insightful comments from other literary agents & publishers. There are exercises to complete at the end of each chapter and although I skipped a few most of them were very worthwhile even if they just reinforced my own work in progress while others set me off on exciting entirety new tangents. Hopefully my messy jottings in the notebook will reveal even more nuggets once I can decipher my own handwriting! After hearing this book recommended by a local literary agent I set out on a book hunt. I did eventually get my hands on a copy for 2 weeks through inter library loan before I finally found a much thumbed (& filled with pencilled notes) second hand copy at a city op shop. I’m glad now that I put in the effort as this is definitely a book to add to the reference shelves of any aspiring MG/YA writer.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    I've read a lot of How To Become An Awesome writer type books. I've attended conferences, webnairs, and followed a lot of writer blogs, and out of all of those great tools and resources, kidlit.com has always been a favorite of mine. So when I heard that Mary Kole was writing a book, I was intrigued. The book is broken down into the important things you need to know when writing for the YA or MG marketplace. It starts with an overview of the Kidlit Market then moves to describing the MG and YA r I've read a lot of How To Become An Awesome writer type books. I've attended conferences, webnairs, and followed a lot of writer blogs, and out of all of those great tools and resources, kidlit.com has always been a favorite of mine. So when I heard that Mary Kole was writing a book, I was intrigued. The book is broken down into the important things you need to know when writing for the YA or MG marketplace. It starts with an overview of the Kidlit Market then moves to describing the MG and YA reader's mindset. I'd like to think I'm well educated with both, but Kole gave insights I hadn't thought about. She then talks about the importance of a Big Idea in stories, the foundation of storytelling, how to make a great YA or MG character, how to structure plots, and she talks about advanced skills (such how imagery, voice, theme, author authority and authenticity. In case you haven't considered the traditional publishing route, the last chapter breaks down everything you need to know about it. The role of literary agents, the query letter, submitting your work, and a few more bonus tips and tricks. Again, I'm well versed in those areas but Kole brought a new point of view and a very interesting one since she's a literary agent herself. Reading this book was fun. It forced me to think about my own writing and gives exercises to help you find problems with my plot or characters. Editors, YA and MG authors, and other literary agents give bonus tips and insights throughout the book as well. Kole reinforces everything she says by showing examples from popular YA and MG books. She gives plenty of time to both sections of the kidlits. I honestly think that this book is a must read for anyone aspiring to write YA or MG books.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    Dammit. My stack of unread and nearly-due library ebooks mounts. I could not persuade my thumb to move past Mary Kole's Writing Irresistible Kidlit without pressing in for a quick peek, and now I've gone and read the whole thing. I own this book, yet I had to read it through before all those others with their ticking expiration dates. Good stuff, this. I'm wading through revisions on a years-old manuscript, and Ms. Kole's insights are both practical and inspiring enough to effect real, story-alt Dammit. My stack of unread and nearly-due library ebooks mounts. I could not persuade my thumb to move past Mary Kole's Writing Irresistible Kidlit without pressing in for a quick peek, and now I've gone and read the whole thing. I own this book, yet I had to read it through before all those others with their ticking expiration dates. Good stuff, this. I'm wading through revisions on a years-old manuscript, and Ms. Kole's insights are both practical and inspiring enough to effect real, story-altering change. I would be moved to send Ms. Kole fan mail, or at the very least an enthusiastic tweet, were I the sort to do such things. As it is, I offer a solid five-star rating and the promise of many word-of-mouth recommendations, instead. On second thought, let me also express my enthusiasm in the form of a squee: Squeeeeeee! This book is so. good. Go read it for yourself and stop loitering in my humble review space. Shoo.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lia Marcoux

    I really enjoy Kole's Kidlit blog, but the book seems to focus more on writing that sells than writing craft (which is great for someone seeking that practical guide). Kole is an experienced professional with a successful list, so she obviously knows her stuff, but a couple of those commercial guidelines (which are not her fault) made me sad. Bitter emphasis entirely my own: "Try to give all issues, like experiencing racism probably, to secondary characters. And pack your YA with romance because I really enjoy Kole's Kidlit blog, but the book seems to focus more on writing that sells than writing craft (which is great for someone seeking that practical guide). Kole is an experienced professional with a successful list, so she obviously knows her stuff, but a couple of those commercial guidelines (which are not her fault) made me sad. Bitter emphasis entirely my own: "Try to give all issues, like experiencing racism probably, to secondary characters. And pack your YA with romance because girls can't get enough of that crap." After a certain point she probably could have started referring to "Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things by Lenore Look, illustrated by LeUyen Pham" as "Alvin Ho". And maybe use fewer fonts. But this does seem like it would be a great tool for someone trying to get their book off the ground, at any level of experience.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    Mary Kole is a kid lit agent, so the advice she gives in this info-packed guide comes from a deep knowledge of the industry. For example, there's a list of cliched openings - and mine was one (not wanting to go to your first day of a new school). Ack! But better to know now than after submitting to an agent. I found myself getting lots of ideas for my book, and wound up reading it with my laptop on my lap so I could jot down plot or setting or character points without having to get up. Absolutel Mary Kole is a kid lit agent, so the advice she gives in this info-packed guide comes from a deep knowledge of the industry. For example, there's a list of cliched openings - and mine was one (not wanting to go to your first day of a new school). Ack! But better to know now than after submitting to an agent. I found myself getting lots of ideas for my book, and wound up reading it with my laptop on my lap so I could jot down plot or setting or character points without having to get up. Absolutely invaluable and highly recommended to anyone thinking of writing a MG or YA novel.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Meagan

    This book was recommended to me by a writer friend and I devoured it in a matter of days. It is excellent, filled with great reminders of stuff I already know but sometimes forget, and many new-to-me ideas as well. I would highly recommend this to anyone who is seriously interested in writing publishable fiction, especially if you already have something in the works that you want to improve. I am nearing the end of the first rewrite of the novel I am working on, and this book has me totally ener This book was recommended to me by a writer friend and I devoured it in a matter of days. It is excellent, filled with great reminders of stuff I already know but sometimes forget, and many new-to-me ideas as well. I would highly recommend this to anyone who is seriously interested in writing publishable fiction, especially if you already have something in the works that you want to improve. I am nearing the end of the first rewrite of the novel I am working on, and this book has me totally energized with fresh ideas on what I want to do in my next round of revisions!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Dianna Winget

    This is an excellent book on writing, and I've read my share of craft books. I love Mary's examples and how she's able to put you in the mind of both middle graders and young adults. I would highly recommend this helpful aid. This is an excellent book on writing, and I've read my share of craft books. I love Mary's examples and how she's able to put you in the mind of both middle graders and young adults. I would highly recommend this helpful aid.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Anyta Sunday

    Solid. It's always great to get the basis drummed into you again and again. I particularly liked the examples, my only qualm with it is that it has increased my 'to read' pile by another 20. Need more reading time!!! Solid. It's always great to get the basis drummed into you again and again. I particularly liked the examples, my only qualm with it is that it has increased my 'to read' pile by another 20. Need more reading time!!!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Courtney

    This is a must-read book by the awesome agent Mary Kole for anyone writing for children. She is a master, and loved her words of encouragement at the end, too. My favorite quote: Novels are written one word at a time, and every word is a choice.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Shaffer

    If you're thinking of writing YA/MG fiction, you need to read this book. Even if you write it already, I'm sure you would enjoy it as well. If you're thinking of writing YA/MG fiction, you need to read this book. Even if you write it already, I'm sure you would enjoy it as well.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Anika

    Great tool for MG/YA writers.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Toni Suzuki

    I went into this book hoping that the advice it contained would be geared a bit more specifically towards writing for kids and young adults. The first chapter delivered exactly what I wanted! Unfortunately, everything after that was general writing advice. And though all of it is solid and true advice, as someone who has read several craft books at this point, none of it was new to me. Also, some of the points made in the book, especially related to the market at the moment, are a tad dated. Do b I went into this book hoping that the advice it contained would be geared a bit more specifically towards writing for kids and young adults. The first chapter delivered exactly what I wanted! Unfortunately, everything after that was general writing advice. And though all of it is solid and true advice, as someone who has read several craft books at this point, none of it was new to me. Also, some of the points made in the book, especially related to the market at the moment, are a tad dated. Do be aware of that while you're reading. If you are a beginner writer who plans to write YA and MG books and hasn't read any craft books yet, then this one would be great to start with! However, if you're a more experienced writer, then the majority of the book will just be repeating what you already know.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Olivia Cornwell

    This was really useful to me. I've read writing books before, so a lot of the material was familiar to me. But I wanted that YA/MG "setting," since that's what I write. It was a helpful read, in understanding what teens/middle graders feel and experience (since, I suspect, I had a vastly different growing-up time than the average person). Some of that, though, I was iffy on (I was concerned, for example, that young adults/kids find a fascination in dark stuff like death and suicide and such???? This was really useful to me. I've read writing books before, so a lot of the material was familiar to me. But I wanted that YA/MG "setting," since that's what I write. It was a helpful read, in understanding what teens/middle graders feel and experience (since, I suspect, I had a vastly different growing-up time than the average person). Some of that, though, I was iffy on (I was concerned, for example, that young adults/kids find a fascination in dark stuff like death and suicide and such???? Why?!), but it was interesting to learn. I felt like calling YA/MG books collectively as "kidlit" was odd. It felt kind of like it was making it seem young and light and inconsequential (if that makes sense) when it's the farthest thing from it.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Maggie Holman

    Mary Kole really knows what she's talking about! This book has completely turned around how I was approaching my children's and YA writing. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Each chapter contains relevant, useful and insightful information about writing and about the book world. Kole doesn't just tell us things from her own point of view. She refers throughout the book to contextual examples from current books to support her points, and asks also writers and agents for their thoughts and cont Mary Kole really knows what she's talking about! This book has completely turned around how I was approaching my children's and YA writing. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Each chapter contains relevant, useful and insightful information about writing and about the book world. Kole doesn't just tell us things from her own point of view. She refers throughout the book to contextual examples from current books to support her points, and asks also writers and agents for their thoughts and contextual choices. I'll always have this book within easy reach when I want the best children's and YA writing advice!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Linda Judd

    This is a wonderful guide for story crafters and writers. Even though its aim is for Middle Grade and Young Adult, the development of characters is the same for any genre. Mary Kole has brought to light every aspect of creating characters with specific examples from published books, all works of novel length. Lots of examples, to cover plot development, that even the young reader would appreciate.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Clare Bird

    I was given this book as a gift my brother- who has been consistently cheering me on in my endeavor to become an author. I enjoy writing YA and felt like Mary Kole had great advice. I found it a slow read, not because it boring, but because I really wanted to let it all soak in and be beneficial to me. I made sure to add the books she provided examples from. I'm excited to see the changes in my writing and approach to plot and even querying. I was given this book as a gift my brother- who has been consistently cheering me on in my endeavor to become an author. I enjoy writing YA and felt like Mary Kole had great advice. I found it a slow read, not because it boring, but because I really wanted to let it all soak in and be beneficial to me. I made sure to add the books she provided examples from. I'm excited to see the changes in my writing and approach to plot and even querying.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Melody Loomis

    If you enjoy writing and reading about writing, and especially if you write MG or YA, this is a good one to read. I’m working on my query letter and going to use her tips on it. She seems to know what she’s talking about. This book is going on my shelf to keep as a reference. I’m sure I’ll need to refer back to it later on as I work on my next book!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Savannah Hendricks

    I found this book rather helpful, but not a easily spelled out as a few other books on writing that I have read. That said, it is a heavier read and there is a lot to take in. Se of the chapters seemed for writers just starting out, while other chapters felt more for advanced writers. Even though it's marketed as MG and YA, the book works for adult fiction also. I found this book rather helpful, but not a easily spelled out as a few other books on writing that I have read. That said, it is a heavier read and there is a lot to take in. Se of the chapters seemed for writers just starting out, while other chapters felt more for advanced writers. Even though it's marketed as MG and YA, the book works for adult fiction also.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Roxanne Troup

    Definitely geared more toward the higher end of the kid-lit spectrum, I enjoyed this book's library (excerpts used as examples) of good voice, theme, character, setting, etc. Nothing earth-shattering here, but solid advice none-the-less. I would have like to see more middle-grade examples given--most seemed to be YA. Definitely geared more toward the higher end of the kid-lit spectrum, I enjoyed this book's library (excerpts used as examples) of good voice, theme, character, setting, etc. Nothing earth-shattering here, but solid advice none-the-less. I would have like to see more middle-grade examples given--most seemed to be YA.

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