When I started my middle grade novel, it was just a fun project, something for my daughter and me to do during lockdown. Many of the ideas were hers, a girl chock full of fantasy worlds, described in exacting detail. She loved spouting out physical features, setting and relationships. When we created the Wishingworld, we didn't necessarily think it would go any further than most of our brainstorming/play sessions. But something about Ailey and Ivan Windsong and their whimsical world stayed with us. Throughout the summer and fall I would write scenes longhand and run them by her. She would nix something right away if it didn't sound right. At the drop of a hat, she could give a name to a villain.
A draft is one thing. Revising a work to move from a literary tone to middle grade accessibility is another task completely. How did I do it? By immersing myself in the works of Kelly Barnhill, Ann Ursu, Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Sharon M. Draper, among others. By checking in with my daughter if she could follow the story. By finding beta readers. By hiring an editor. By axing nearly a quarter of my paragraphs.