A few years ago if you had talked about Tweeners most people would have thought you were not “all there.” I’m not sure who coined the word but it refers to those readers who are beyond picture books and simple story concepts. Although no longer babies, neither are they teenagers. Hence the name Tweeners.
Tweeners are usually categorized as ages 8-12. They still like to read. But, you had better have a good plot and lots of excitement or they may throw your book down and head for the Nintendo or Wii.
1. If you want to write for this age, read tweener books. LOTS of them. A number of people suggest you read at least 100 books. Sounds like a lot but if you dissect 100 books and see what got them published, I imagine you are well on your way to being added to that list of published authors.
2. If you can afford it, take a course on writing middle grade novels. There are some online. Check them out. If not, google “middle grade books.” You will find numerous articles about writing for this age.
3. Know the basics. Tweener books usually run 20,000 to 40,000 words. Don’t write an 800-page book and expect it to be published. There are always exceptions to this but they are just that, exceptions.
4. Know your publisher. I have mentioned this before but it bears repeating. Study the market to see which publishers publish tweener books. Find out what KIND of tweener books they publish. If you have a fantasy book and they publish only nonfiction, don’t think they are going to change the rules of the entire company because your book is so profound they simply have to be the ones to publish it. Those things happen only in our dreams!
5. It helps to like tweeners if you want to write for them. There are probably some people out there who hate children but get a book published (I don’t know any of them). You should love those you want to write for. Well, at least like them! If you can’t stand them, try another age to write for.
I hope these things will help you in your quest to write for tweeners. I’ll have a few more suggestions on September 18. “See” you then.
-contributed by Gloria