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  1. Penelope Anne Cole
    Penelope Anne Cole December 5, 2012 at 12:02 pm |

    Hi Margo, I agree. Characters should change and grow. If they seem “stuck” and don’t “get it,” we’re frustrated with them. We cheer when they finally accept they have to grow/change to accomplish their goals, make things better, and achieve something. We see that in real life and want it in stories. In my children’s book, “Magical Matthew,” he changes and has to grow because of it. He can’t live in the past. He has to accept the change and grow in order to move on to the next stage of life– like your Anna in “Finding My Place.”

  2. Cathy C. Hall
    Cathy C. Hall December 5, 2012 at 1:31 pm |

    Yes, I think growth is good, and certainly interesting. But I think you can get away with a strong, plot-driven story for young middle grade, especially if you have good characters. Kids fall for a character, right? But the higher-end, 11 and older, a character needs to change to add another layer of depth to the story.

    I think FINDING MY PLACE succeeded for younger middle grade because you had such a unique setting (I mean, what kid hasn’t dreamed of living in a cave???) and lots of interesting historical stuff to throw into the plot. But the depth came from Anna’s growth–it was a coming of age for her–and that made the novel older middle grade.

    I had an editor tell me once that in middle grade, the characters are engaged in the little world around them. In YA, the character is looking for their place in the big, wide world. I thought that was brilliant– (And had to revise my novel!) ;-)

  3. Margo Dill
    Margo Dill December 6, 2012 at 7:43 am |

    @Penelope–I need to read your book. :) I so agree that a character STUCK is so frustrating. Sometimes I notice that more in adult novels than in children’s. That says something about adults, huh?

    @Cathy–I love that about middle grade and YA characters–I think I am going to put that in the class I am teaching in the new year. I will say my brilliant writing friend, Cathy Hall, heard from an even more brilliant editor . . . :)

  4. Mary Horner
    Mary Horner December 6, 2012 at 10:34 pm |

    Great information, Margo. These are questions I need to keep in mind when writing fictional (and nonfictional) characters!

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