Unremarkable jobs used in interesting ways can also enhance your character, drive some of the plot of your story, and perhaps provide the skills characters need to succeed at their biggest challenges.

Durham has made his job as a writer easier by having a strong turn near the midpoint of the book. He has something to build toward in the first half of Act 2 and something to move from in the second half.

Schmidt uses repetition throughout Orbiting Jupiter to evoke emotions in his readers.

Adult secondary characters need to serve the story and the change and growth necessary for the main character. With teacher characters, as with other adults, you have a wide range of options–from allies to antagonists.

“Craft study has helped me tremendously to make better books, and to hone my ear so that I know when something is working or not. I’ve become so much better at writing stronger characters with more compelling arcs, I can tell when my language is pitch-perfect and when it’s falling flat, I can revise more quickly than ever before, I can look at comp titles when I get stuck, I can pull from a wider range of craft techniques when I’m struggling to convey something . . . the list goes on and on. Learning craft has helped me become a better writer in countless ways.”

This blog emerged from a book group that meets monthly in Menlo Park, California, to discuss middle grade books with an eye to craft. We don’t always create posts on the books we read, but we do have great discussions! If you’re looking to expand your middle grade reading or to start your own discussion group, feel free to read along.

These are compassionate stories that encourage readers to awaken their own inner activist. And they also model ways for kids to engage in deep conversations about topics that can be hard to talk about.

In your story, consider how your character’s Lie and Fear impact the plot. And look to the Midpoint and All is Lost moments to ratchet up the stakes for your character. See how the climax resolves both the plot problem (what the character wants) and the Lie (what the character needs to change).

Kate O’Shaughnessy creates secondary character Tommy O’Brien in such a way that, even though the book is in Maybelle’s first person point of view, readers know things about Tommy that Maybelle doesn’t.

Ignore trends entirely, and write the book that truly calls to you.