Saturday, February 27, 2016

Writing for a Younger Audience

By: Stephanie Burkhart 

Question: I’m confused! Is my story a children’s story, middle grade (MG) , young adult, (YA) or new adult (NA?)

Answer: Here’s the target age for the following: children’s stories: 3-7 years old, middle grade: 8-12 years old, young adult: 13-18 years old, and new adult: 18-30 years old. 

Question: So what’s the difference between middle grade and young adult?

Answer: In middle grade stories, a protagonist usually deals with rites of passage and first times. Voice is so important in these stories, so it’s essential to capture the voice of a young protagonist with believability.

In young adult stories our protagonist will be a bit more introspective and possess a little more sophistication. Again, voice is key here. When a story’s narrator sounds like an adult and not a youth, then the story loses credibility. 

Question: What type of stories appeal to a younger audience?

Answer: Something unique and diverse. The world is full of different cultures and ethnicities. There’s different abilities, different socio-economics and unique settings. Our younger readers know the world is full of vast cultures and unique people so bring that out in your writing.

Consider that deceased parents, spunky heroines, and dystopias have flood the recent market. Consider a different spin or a different approach.
When writing for a younger audience consider the following: #1: the narrator’s voice must sound like a young person, not an adult. #2: dialogue must not be too stiff or frequent. It must sound authentic. #3: No information dumps. Show! Don’t tell everything to the reader in the first 30 pages. Unravel the story slowly and savor the discovery. 

Reference: Writer’s Digest, MAR/APR 2016, “4 on 4,” complied by Jessica Strawser, pages 28-29.
Question: Good, well written, young adult also appeals to the adult audience. Think Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and the Maze Runner. Who was your favorite character in the Harry Potter Series?  Why?

Author Bio: Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. She enjoys coffee, adores chocolate, and is a Den Leader for her son’s Cub Scout den. Her books with 4RV Publishing include: The Giving Meadow, Brady’s Lost Blanket, Joseph’s Cradle, and First Flag of New Hampshire.

Caterpillar travels through a meadow learning how to care and share. 
5 Stars, Tami Dee, Amazon Reviewer:  The Giving Meadow is a charming story about friendship, generosity, kindness, and support when changes occur which are out of our control.

5 Stars, Katherine Boyer, Amazon Reviewer:  The lessons depicted in this lovely, brightly illustrated book include, but are not limited to, sharing, friendship, acceptance, understanding and generosity.

5 stars, Beverly Stowe McClure, Amazon Reviewer:The Giving Meadow is a nice book to add to a child's library. Early childhood and kindergarten teachers could use this book in their classes as a fun read to teach children about the small creatures in their world. I recommend this book for little ones ages 4-8, for animal lovers, even the crawly kind, and for everyone who enjoys nature and a gentle read at bedtime. 



  1. Stephanie, great information of the various children's genres. Thanks for sharing.

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