Posts Tagged ‘middle grade book’ Archive

Dusting Off My Middle Grade Novel

Gabriela Lessa has given me a great reason to dust off my only completed novel: a contest! Rupert is my middle grade novel. It holds a special place in my heart since it is the only novel I’ve managed to finish (although, when you think I’ve only been at this since the new year, it doesn’t sound that bad).

I’m supposed to write a one sentence pitch (which I would love some help with!) and post my first paragraph. Lots of you will have seen this before when I posted it a few months back, but for those of you it’s new to, feel free to share your thoughts!

Name: Juliana Brandt
Title: Rupert Reginald Robinson, XI & the Mysterious House Next Door
Genre: Middle Grade
Manuscript word count: 23,000
Judge: Aubrey Poole
One-Sentence Pitch: Rupert must defeat a powerful pirate when he discovers imaginary creatures live in his next door neighbor’s house. (Ick, I know this is bad. Thoughts??)

First paragraph:

Rupert Reginald Robinson clutched a thick book to his chest; his forehead rested against the glass of the backseat car window.  The car bumped across the road.  His head slid to a new place and left a smudge of grease on the glass.

(I am guest posting over at Jack Flacco’s on being a critique partner. Go check it out!)

The First 312 Words

Gabi Lessa is having a fabulous contest on her blog in honor of her birthday!

Here are the rules if you’d like to join!

  1. Visit her blog to sign up for the contest. You have until noon on Saturday, March 12th, to sign up.
  2. The contest is open for everyone. You can enter either a finished manuscript or a work in progress.
  3. Post the first 312 words of your manuscript on your blog. Just the first 312! It doesn’t matter if it ends mid-sentence, that’s ok. But please be sure to count! 312 words, not one more, not one less!
  4. When you post your entry, post your title, your genre and your manuscript’s status (finished or in progress).

So…here’s Rupert!

TitleRupert Reginald Robinson, the ninth & the House Next Door
GenreMiddle Grade
First 312 Words:

Rupert Reginald Robinson clutched a thick book to his chest, his forehead rested against the glass of the backseat car window.  The car bumped across the road.  His head slid to a new place and left a smudge of grease on the glass.

“Ouch,” he said as his head whacked against the glass for a third time.  He released his book and rubbed his forehead with two fingers.

In his left hand he gripped a baseball.  The ball was worn and frayed as if a dog had chewed on the red bindings.  As the car bounced down the road the ball rotated around, his fingers moved methodically so the ball was always in motion.

Rupert placed his head back against the glass and looked out onto the street.  At the corner stood Bobby.

Bobby was the school bully.  A small grey rat rode on his shoulder.  This rat was his favorite form of torture.  Bobby would hide it in kids’ lockers to scare them.  He scowled when he saw Rupert spying him through the glass.

“Aunt Miriam?”  Rupert asked and looked up to the front seat.

“Hmm?”  Miriam kept her eyes on the road.

“Are we almost there?”

“No Rupert, we are not almost there.  Do not ask again.”

Rupert turned back to stare out the window.

Beside him, his cousin sat in a booster seat playing with dolls.  She hummed quietly to herself as the dolls clicked against each other.  Rupert could hear her lips moving as she silently talked to herself

“Mom? Are we there yet?” Delilah asked absentmindedly.

“We’ll be there in just a few minutes, sweetie.”  Miriam said and reached back to pat her daughter on the knee.

Rupert rolled his eyes.

The car came to a halt in their driveway and Delilah began to squirm in her seat.  She quickly dropped both her dolls to the car…

Major Conflict

Today I am reworking the second chapter of Rupert.  Sophia, a wonderful woman who has read/critiqued my first chapter, commented that since Rupert is a middle grade book the major conflict needs to come pretty quickly.  Geez, how did I miss that!  Here I am, writing a book where the major conflict doesn’t come in until the fourth chapter, that’s 1/4 of the way through the book (there are twelve chapters currently planned and written).

At first when I realized this I was pretty bummed and didn’t know how to rework those first few chapters as I love what I have already written.  Writing is a process of editing and knowing when to delete and change.  I have decided to write a new second chapter and introduce the conflict earlier.  Doing this, I am avoiding having to completely delete my second-fourth chapters, but I will have to change them a little.  Clever, eh?  haha

Anyways, there’s where Rupert is currently at.

Also, here’s a great piece of advice Dad gave me earlier this week.  When you are critiquing a piece of work don’t focus on content but on helping them become a better writer.

How Do You Delete?

All writers experience the need to delete entire sentences, paragraphs, and pages of work.  Thousands of words down the drain.

How do you make those necessary changes?  How do you delete writing you have fallen in love with?

The easiest way to delete is to not actually delete.  I have made the decision to re-work a big part of ‘Rupert’ even though I love what I have already written.  Instead of erasing it completely, I’ve merely moved it into another document. Maybe I’m keeping it for sentimental reasons only, but who knows, maybe I’ll be able to use it in some other piece of writing.

This is not the first document I have saved works goes along these lines.

How have I made the decision to take this part of Rupert out?  Simply put, I have to.

I’m a believer that stories tell us what happens, and what they need to say.  Characters have their own personalities that we, as the writer, have to be true to.  The story line is not something we decide on but is merely something that happens.  Either we are true to that, or not.  Either we force it to change, or not.  If we listen, it is not hard to make these changes.

When a particular part of a story doesn’t work it is easy to take out, even if I am in love with the writing or the idea behind it.  If I do love it, then it gets saved somewhere at the bottom of my documents folder. Someday, perhaps I’ll take this portion of ‘Rupert’ out and a new story will come of it.