Every so often my critique group from circa 2003 takes time off from our weekly sub-and-crit schedule to explore the craft of writing. This past week it was all about reading and discussing the book Writing Irresistible Kidlit, The Ultimate Guide to Crafting Fiction for Young Adult and Middle Grade Readers by literary agent Mary Kole (2012, Writers Digest Books).
Do you need to write only for the 8- to 18-year-old to glean information on how to be a better writer from this book? Absolutely not. Kole is a master at setting a chisel on the calloused fallacies of writers for all ages. Does she cover the major three issues? Character, plot and language? You bet, but in a refreshing way which caused this author to sit back, scrutinize her writing revealed in this new spotlight, and say, “Oh, fiddle sticks!” At which time she sends me straight back to Thought- and Revisionland. She covers much more than the major three and delves deeply in.
There are many books available on the craft of writing, many wonderful books. Most are for beginners. Kole does an excellent job, taking the writer deeper. It’s not just “know your characters,” but know their core identities and views on the world. It’s not just about raising stakes in your plot, but raising the stakes for the purpose of seriously affecting your protagonist. And if just reading about improving your writing isn’t enough, Kole throws in exercises for the braver readers. It’s a great study book on the craft of writing.