Monday, April 19, 2010

Feedback from my writing group, and a question

I got some really good feedback about my middle-grade novel series yesterday. The first three chapters of book three were up for critique at our local writing group. I'd been wondering if it was even worth persevering with, but they seemed to find enough that they liked to persuade me I ought to try. So now I have three main things to think about:

1. I need a stronger start. One suggestion was to start with chapter two, but they liked the character introductions in chapter one, so maybe I should look for some other strong event... or at least a strong sentence.

2. I need to be more careful about introducing "new" characters; readers might not have read the previous books.

3. I need to think about how my chapters end...

So, here's where I ask you a question.

My instinct is to treat chapters like short stories each with a beginning, middle and end. I suspect that's born of the fact that I read in short bursts; I like to know where I last left off, and I like know when I'll next feel able to stop. But...

Is it true that middle-grade readers need cliff-hanger endings?

Come to think of it, what about other readers readers too? Am I doing this all wrong? I really should have asked before they finished the critique, but please tell me what you think.


Aubrie said...

These are good questions. I struggle with the start of each of my books. I have to rewrite it many times before I'm happy with it. Action always helps to acheive a strong start, or a really neat idea that raises questions.

I'm not sure about middle grade because I write YA and adult. But I always leave chapters with cliff hangers!

Anonymous said...

Introducing new characters canbe tricky. I left enough characters with minor to seemingly meaningless roles that will take on major roles in the seconf and third installments of the trilogy.

But yeah, readers really should read the first book. But a good author will make each book a stand alone story yet cleverly thread them together into a series.

Stephen Tremp

Cold As Heaven said...

Start with chapter 2 and skip chapter 13 >;)

I like it when chapters are one per scene, but doesn't have to be intro-main-ending style.

Patricia Stoltey said...

As a reader of adult mysteries and thrillers, I like cliffhangers (even when I'm reading YA novels). What the YA and middle grade readers prefer, however, I can't say. Do you have some youngsters who would volunteer to be first readers for you?