Monday, April 2, 2012


One of my current projects is a young adult manuscript I'm rewriting as middle grade. While I've been working on YA and MG projects the ten or so years I've been writing, changing a novel from YA to MG is something new to me. It's tricky, shifting a pre-imagined, fully fleshed out book into a different form. In fact, it has been quite the wrestling match. Last week my manuscript was beating me, but this week I'm winning! Woo-hoo!

There are oodles of changes I'm working on to make my new protagonist younger. She even has slightly different goals from the original main character's. I obviously want her to feel authentic. I'm taking the premise and some of the pieces of my original story and giving my younger main character a journey of her own.

This experience is helping me grow as a writer. I'm sure of it! It's making me think in a more concrete way about what makes a book YA or MG.

How about you? Have you ever rewritten a project, changing it so it will reach a different age group?
Otherwise, what are some of the biggest changes you've made to a manuscript?

As a side note, have you heard the acoustic version of "We Are Young" by Fun? It's pretty cool.


Angelina C. Hansen said...

That's a big undertaking that I've contemplated doing with my first YA. The biggest changes I've made are changing from first to third then back again to first.

Best wishes with the revision, Dawn.

Dawn Simon said...

Hi, Angelina! Changing from first to third or third to first is also big. Let me know if you end up rewriting your first YA. Thank you for the positive wishes. I'm sending them your way, too! :)

Amy L. Sonnichsen said...

Yes, I can relate, Dawn! I had a ms I thought was YA, but was told by a critique partner it felt like MG, and then my agent also said it was more MG, so now I'm rewriting it to make sure it's YA, because I want it to be YA. I love MG, but some of the plot points are too mature for an MG audience. I think my biggest problem was that my protag was a very sheltered teenager, so I had to reimagine her and give her a spine in order for her to stand out in the YA market. I'm not sure it will work, but I'm definitely learning through the process. Best of luck with you rewrite!!

Dawn Simon said...

Hi, Amy! Wow, we are in similar places right now! I firmly believe no writing is wasted because even when we go the wrong (or least direct) way, we learn so much! It will be super fun to see you again in a couple weeks! I wish you the best of luck as well!

Medeia Sharif said...

I can relate. I rewrote a book during the summer, changing major plot points.

I once changed from past tense to present--that was a pain.

There's a middle grade manuscript I wrote long ago that I'd like to convert to YA.

I heard this song many times on Slacker or satellite radio, and now I know who sings it.

Dawn Simon said...

Hi, Medeia! You can relate! I hope you have a great week! :)

Claudia Del Balso said...

Hi Dawn,
My changes weren't as drastic as yours since you're working on a book and I was working on a short story. Yes, the main character remained but I had to change the premise, the ending, eliminate secondary characters and most importantly, POV. It was an ordeal.

Faith Pray said...

Yes, Dawn! I've been rewriting my fantasy novel to a middle grade novel. I HATED the middle grade years! Back then, I just wanted to be invisible, or at least, mostly status quo, so the idea of writing for mg scared me. So to research, I've been devouring middle grade fiction. The thing that strikes me is that many mg books have the tang of coming-of-age about them, the need to find one's place and be okay with that. That's what I'm trying to bring into my novel.

Dawn Simon said...

Hi, Claudia! Those are huge changes! Yowza!

Hi, Faith! Middle school can be tough. Interesting observations with your reading. I especially like the part about needing to find one's place. Good luck with your fantasy novel! I'd love to hear more about your progress at the conference!