Getting it Done May Mid-Grade Style



Have you been getting your MMGM on? Our fearless mid-grade leader Kara Laughlin has completed her novel – over 20K words in three days! (Major props and woohoo’s, Kara!!) If you’re doing the challenge, don’t forget to check in on the May Mid-Grade Madness Facebook page and let us know when and how it’s progressing.  If you’re still deciding whether to do it, here’s the details. The month isn’t over yet!

I plan to foray into the madness next week, Tuesday-Thursday. Honestly, it’s the worst possible time to do a writing marathon. Between my youngest’s impending graduation, her sister moving back in from college, cleaning the house for family visitors, and horse shows, it is bordering on insanity to attempt this. Why don’t I wait for a better time to write this novel?

Because if I do, I probably won’t ever write it.

We all know there’s never a good time to write. We just have to do it. That’s what’s so great about this challenge – it forces us to get on with it. I know I’m not alone. Most writers have families, jobs, and other demands that can really fracture the time we put into our craft. The most successful ones cope with those demands. Author Sarah Sullivan told us at a previous conference that while working full-time as a lawyer, she would sit down and write from 12am-2am every night. Patricia MacLachlan, Newbery  award winner and author of the classic Sarah, Plain and Tall (among many others) wrote smack in the middle of her living room and playing children. Talk about getting it done!

While prepping for MMGM, I researched different plotting techniques and came across how the late Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton used index cards to develop his stories. Angela Ackerman detailed his method last year in the blog Writers Helping Writers. In a nutshell, while in medical school (talk about multi-tasking), he always kept a stack of index cards with him and whenever a plot point came to mind he’d write it down on a card and throw it into a shoebox. Once it was full, Crichton would dump the cards out and arrange them in the order he wanted to tell that story.

When I read this, I thought “I can do that,” and I have. Every little story idea that I think of gets its own card. I now have a whole stack (decided against the shoebox) and the bones to my mid-grade. I’m definitely keeping this technique for future projects!

What’s your favorite plotting technique? What’s your secret to getting the proverbial butt in the chair? Share your secret to getting it done in the comments below. And if you’re doing MMGM, get over to Facebook!

Happy writing and illustrating!

About Susan Mannix

Susan worked as a biomedical research editor for the Department of the Navy for fourteen years and has been a member of SCBWI since 2007. She writes young adult and middle grade novels. When she isn’t writing, she spends her time doing all things horses, including attending her teenaged daughters’ many competitions. Susan lives in Maryland on a small farm with her husband, two children, an adorable black lab, two cats, and three horses.
This entry was posted in May Midgrade Madness, Writing Tips. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Getting it Done May Mid-Grade Style

  1. Thanks for the encouragement, Susan. I gotta stop wallowing and write. No babies. No horses. No graduates. NO Excuses!

  2. Susan Mannix says:

    Haha, Teresa!! I’m the queen of wallowing! Trust me on that one (just ask Laura Bowers). Good luck! 🙂

  3. Larry Tagrin says:

    I’ve finished my final re-write of my mid-grade novel and will be publishing it on Kindle Direct. Dealing with agents and publishers who have specific prejudices, especially about their desire for specific age and gender combinations makes the traditional process worthless to me.

  4. Great motivation and great ideas…thanks, needed both!

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