Arts & Entertainment, Writing
Case Study: Comparing Young Adult and Middle Grade Fiction
Lesson time 06:11 min
Bob breaks down the differences between YA and middle grade books using two examples from his own work.
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Topics include: Young Adult Case Study: A Midsummer Night’s Scream • Middle Grade Case Study: Here Comes the Shaggedy
Here's an example of writing for teenagers, as opposed to writing middle grade. And you'll see that the characters are different. They're older. They're more sophisticated. This is from a book I wrote called, "A Midsummer Night's Scream." And you can see the difference in the writing level between a middle-grade story. And we have these kids, these teenagers in a car, and it takes place in the 1950s. And this is the very beginning of the book, this is chapter 1. "One hand on the wheel, one hand around Darlene's shoulders, Tony pounded the gas pedal, and the van roared over the bumps and pits of the narrow dirt road." So we have a picture right away, we have a teenage picture right away, of a guy driving one-handed, with his arm around a girl. "Leaning against the window on Darlene's right, Sue gritted her teeth, and absorbed every jolt and jerk in silence. Tony was driving too fast, trying to impress Darlene, and Sue had to fight down her fear. The van was roaring through thick woods, and the overhanging trees blocked the evening light, making Sue feel as if the world had gone black and white. In the back seat, Randy, Brian, and Cindy were singing a children's song. Singing and laughing at the same time. Darlene shook her head. Sue covered her ears. Sue was the shy one in the group of friends. She appeared on edge with them, as if she'd love to be somewhere else. The van hit a big stone, and the six kids flew up from their seats, their heads thumping the ceiling. The wheels spun wildly in Tony's hand. Sue and Cindy screamed as they veered toward the trees." So it gives an idea of its fast-pacing, but the vocabulary is higher than a middle-grade book. And you have six characters, right away. And you pretty much start to get an idea of what they're like. The danger is very believable. They're roaring down this road. He's showing off. They're in a big van. They hit a rock. It's nighttime, they're in the middle of a forest. It's a very real kind of beginning. [MUSIC PLAYING] Now here's a little section from a "Goosebumps" I wrote called, "Here Comes the Shaggedy." And the Shaggedy is this horrible swamp monster. And I thought I would read this to you because it's an example of how you could write a monster for middle grade, how middle-grade kids will react to it. And it gives you a sort of idea, in contrast, to the teenage thing. Of the different style that I would use for middle grade, and the different vocabulary level. And I'm describing this monster who comes popping up out of the river. This horrible, hideous thing comes up and staring at this brother and sister. But you can see it's a different fright level altogether, I think. "It's face was blue and puffy. Its eyes were an eerie yellow. Water rolled off its head, its bare shoulders. The creature appeared to grow taller as it rose in the water and began to stomp toward the shore. It pulled a tangle of weeds from its long, sea-green hair. Hair down past i...
About the Instructor
Award-winning novelist R.L. Stine wrote jokes and funny stories for 20 years before he switched gears and became a horror-writing legend. Since then, the author of the Goosebumps and Fear Street series has sold more than 400 million copies. In his first-ever online writing class, Bob takes the fear out of crafting fiction. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, you’ll learn new ways to conquer writer’s block, develop plots, and build nail-biting suspense that will thrill young readers.