So you want to write for the ‘tweenagers? These are the kids in between the early readers, simple chapter books, simple formula stories, and the hard-to-please, easily bored, busy teenagers. In other words, just the age I love to write for. We have the opportunity to excite, create curiosity, and bring entertainment in a positive way to these kids in a developing age. Don’t try to fool them, and don’t “talk down” to them—they will pick up on that in an instant. We must be real in our beliefs. They can spot hypocrisy and criticism even if we try to cloak it.
Whether we write contemporary or historical novels, mysteries, humor, or adventure, the pace must be lively and characters interesting and believable. Fantasy is popular right now, but pass on following a trend that you’re personally uncomfortable with. If you love history and enjoy doing research, try writing a historical novel, my personal favorite. Fashion the protagonist at the upper level of the middle-grade, 13 or 14 years old. Make him or her be an actual part of the history, not standing on the sidelines. Add actual historic figures as close friends or bit players, and set the action in an interesting, or even better, fascinating period of history. Do your research job well, add details of setting and conversation typical of the time, but not too much.
You’ll learn snippets and facts of history you never knew, and will enjoy writing them so the ‘tweens can learn too, in a novel that keeps them turning pages until the last one.
-contributed by Shirley Shibley