I’m racing forward with the first draft of my latest middle grade fantasy…and learning things left and right as I go. Is it just me, or do other writers find the writing process a terrific teacher? Since I’m writing middle grade fiction right now, you all get to hear about my middle grade fiction insights <grin>.
****DRUMROLL….Here it comes….BOYS LOVE GAMES!****
Okay, maybe it’s not *that* revolutionary an idea, but I think it’s worth keeping in mind if you write middle grade stories. Games can be a great way to add action, explore theme, develop character, and engage the ever-elusive boy reader.
Games feature prominently in several great books for middle school students.
- In the Harry Potter series, the sport of Quidditch provides a backdrop against which Harry is challenged both mentally and physically and, ultimately, triumphs. J.K. Rowling uses the Quidditch pitch as a place to develop characters, ramp up conflict, and reveal key plot points, all woven in with the action and tension of a game.
- In Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan unfolds plot and develops character via a game of capture-the-flag—fought with real swords.
- Hunger Games revolves around a game gone horribly wrong—a “game” that is a life-and-death challenge for our heroine, but because it’s a game, is filled with an unending stream of creative challenges.
- Ender’s Game (not really a middle grade book, but still read by many middle schoolers) prominently features a teaching “game” that—SPOILER ALERT—turns out not to be a game at all.
Games don’t fit into every story, but a tool this powerful deserves consideration. I’ll write more about how to use games on Monday. Meanwhile, are you wondering if I put a game in my book? You bet!
What about you: Do you incorporate games, sports, or other types of play into your writing? If so, why?