The Magic Words: Writing Great Books for Children and Young Adults

Norton. Sept. 2016. 384p. index. ISBN 9780393292244. pap. $18.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393292251. COMM
OrangeReviewStarTo this work, Klein (Second Sight) brings 15 years of book editing experience and a boatload of strategies, exercises, and practical tips to help novelists publish for middle grade and YA audiences. Klein draws heavily on familiar series such as J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books, Stephenie Meyer's Twilight saga, and Suzanne Collins's Hunger Games trilogy, also relating her experiences editing Francisco X. Stork's Marcelo in the Real World and other titles. Though the author's advice is consistently strong throughout, it's mightiest in regards to the idea of character—for example, everyone who reads this wonderful book will know their characters must do things. The volume also distinguishes itself from other similar titles with its wealth of exercises, each provocative, proven, and sure to right the ship. For instance, the "book map" technique ties into a number of other methods that would improve any manuscript. There's also much-needed guidance on writing "outside your groundwork," developing a voice, and penning historical and speculative fiction.
VERDICT The new go-to guide for aspiring middle grade and YA authors.
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