Read like an author

If you loved: The Chronicles of Narnia
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A blog series hunting out modern middle grade and YA fiction for authors who need to update their knowledge of the kidlit market but aren’t sure how to move beyond…

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If you loved: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
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If you’ve ever worked with me or read a few posts on this blog, you’ll know I like to harp on about the importance of reading recently published books in…

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5 simple ways to tell if a book’s MG or YA without opening it
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Wondering how to tell if a book is YA or middle grade just from a quick glance? When you pick up a book, say at the library or in a…

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Start me up: Read the first page of Last One To Die like an editor
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This is part of Start me up: Mark-up on successful novel openings, a blog series designed to help you read like an editor. I’ll analyse the first pages of some…

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Start Me Up: read the first page of Tobin, Bigfoot & Me like an editor
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By now you all KNOW I’m really passionate about the importance of not just reading for authors (although yes, do read! Read lots!) but also reading analytically and with purpose: something I’ve started calling ‘rabbit hole reading’.  It’s brilliant to simply let yourself get totally immersed and enjoy a novel – that’s a really important experience for writers – but you’ll get so much more value from a story if you let yourself go down a rabbit hole when you read. Analyse the plot, the structure, the characters. Ask yourself why the author made the choices they did. Make notes. Annotate. Discuss it with other people. Even mine the acknowledgements page for the names of agents, editors and publishers involved and learn about that author’s writing and publishing process.

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Read like a writer: Last One to Die by Cynthia Murphy
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This was a really fun, pacey YA horror with grown-up Point Horror vibes as Kathryn Foxfield pointed out in her quote on the back of the book. What I found particularly interesting about Last One to Die is that it reads as a realistic slasher up right until the last couple of chapters and then – SPOILER ALERT! – it turns a corner into supernatural horror for the big reveal. I say spoiler alert but actually Kat Ellis’ quote on the back, ‘a supernatural horror-fest’, sort of gives away that twist. This is what sets it apart from Point Horror stories, for me, as those are always based in reality.

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Read like a writer using Evernote, part one: Saving examples of clever writing techniques
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I know it’s easy for me to sit here shouting ‘Read analytically! Take notes! Annotate!’ but that’s not very helpful without practical, actionable advice to go along with it. How…

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Discovering middle grade and YA books in the library (when you don’t know what you’re looking for)
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If you’ve realised you need to step up your reading game, the library is a brilliant first port of call. I’m a MASSIVE library fan and I go at least…

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Read like a writer: Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall
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I really enjoyed Rules for Vanishing and it reminded me how much I love epistolary novels! Including additional content like newspaper clippings, video footage and police interviews can work really well in books for young readers: it breaks up the main narrative and increases the white space, meaning the story feels a little less dense and intimidating, plus it encourages readers to speed through the pages more quickly because each section is so short and easy to digest.

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Where to find up-to-date recommendations for MG and YA fiction online
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There are loads of places to find genre-specific middle grade and YA recommendations but if you’re new to the kidlit space or you just want to read a few good books and don’t care about the genre or subject matter, here are a few of my favourite resources to start you off. Remember this post is being published in January 2022 so if you’re reading this far in the future (I bow to our new alien overlords) be sure to check these websites for more up-to-date lists.

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