When I dove into Robert Paul Weston‘s middle grade book THE CREATURE DEPARTMENT, about the lovable creatures living inside an electronics factory, I was struck by the immense task middle grade writers face.There is the challenge of appealing to an adult and kid audience, the duty to educate and entertain young readers without being patronizing, and the responsibility to start them on a lifetime of reading and loving books.
We invited Robert to share his writing methodology and the arcane art of tapping into the world of a middle grader.
Tapping into the world of a middle grader is not easy and can be extremely dangerous. If you’ve ever tapped into a maple tree in the dead of January to extract the sweet, sweet nectar within, then you will have no idea how to tap into the middle grade world. Making maple syrup won’t help you. (This is probably a good time to admit that I am Canadian. To me and my people, maple syrup can always be forced into a clumsy metaphor for everything in life. Except this. It can’t help you tap into the world of a middle-grader.) To do that, you must follow these steps:
1. Have as much difficulty as possible dealing with the adult world.
Adults are crazy and misguided. They ceaselessly, fruitlessly chase after A) money, B) influence, and C) “meaningful, authentic experiences.” Fools! If you want to tap into the world of middle-graders chase after the following: A) Clouds. B) Non sequiturs. C) Butterflies as big as hippos with flaming wings and two heads, one that looks like Mussolini and another one with a long neck like a giraffe. Hint: This creature’s name is Siegfried.