Monday, June 11, 2012

Writing for Middle Grade Readers

I am back from my run and ready to continue the habit of blogging on Mondays.

This week has been rather eventful for me since this my the first full week back as a writer. It is also my first full week of Summer Vacation. Between mowing the lawn/yardwork, fishing with the kids, running a paper route, and general family stuff I have actually spent quite a bit of time in the pre-writing process. (By the way, fishing is fantastic for that.) During the last year I actually have had a bit of time to prepare lots of crazy and fun ideas. I also received some great advice from both Brandon Mull, and Brandon Sanderson.

Brandon Mull was at a book signing in the local Barnes and Noble, and since my wife had everything published by him we were there. After waiting in line for a short time we got to the table, and I introduced myself telling him I was working on writing. He said, "Awesome! Write crazy stuff!" He then asked me if I had any questions for him. I asked, "How do you find time to write when you are also a Dad?" His answer was very insightful and helpful.

"When you aren't writing, be thinking about what is happening in scenes."

Now this may seem like a no-brainer, but I have thought about story ideas without ever actually thinking through a scene when I wasn't sitting down just to write. In other words, I had only ever thought through a scene right before I was preparing to write. With Mull's advice I was constantly visualizing scenes.

Several months ago I was able to get into a Twitter chat with Brandon Sanderson with the same question. I will post a link to his answer below, but the gist was the same. I had to make time to write, or do something else. What I ended up doing was taking a hiatus from actually writing, biding my time with ideas and development, while waiting for summer to come.

So here I am with several ideas waiting for me to tap the potential. With the many children between the ages of 8 to 10 in my home, and with my job teaching Special Education in a local junior high school I have finally decided to write for the middle grade audience. It was a tough decision to make as I love epic fantasy and young adult, but my writing voice trends toward those middle readers. The stories with be fantasy flavored.

Armed with my genre and with a specific audience, I have decided on the story to work on first. It involves a ghost and 12-13 year-old-students. That is all I will say for now.

Thanks for visiting!

justinkjeppesen Mon Nov 14
#torchat @BrandSanderson Any suggestions for finding time to write for a full time dad with a full time non-writing job?
BrandSanderson Mon Nov 14
@justinkjeppesen It depends on whether or not your day job is creatively draining. If it is writing/programming, etc (more)
BrandSanderson Mon Nov 14
@justinkjeppesen You'll have a much harder time, as those jobs flex the same muscles as novel writing. #torchat
BrandSanderson Mon Nov 14
@justinkjeppesen The people I've known who do it tend to get up an hour early, before their brain is worn out, and write then. #torchat
BrandSanderson Mon Nov 14
@justinkjeppesen Basically, you'll have to give something up. Television, video games, golf, something. (But not family time.) #torchat


  1. Just so you know, those are the favorite books around my house and if you ever need someone to read them for you we would love to give them a read!!!