Dave Lowe on Middle Grade Humour
Dave Lowe is the author of several funny series, such as Stinky and Jinks, Squirrel Boy, The Unbelievable Dadventure and The Mumbelievable Challenge. During Dave’s masterclass at the Write Links Mini Fest, he generously walked us through the world of middle grade humour.
Dave explained the difference between early middle grade and middle grade.
Early Middle Grade Middle Grade
Reader aged 6-8 Reader aged 9-12
Main character is 9-11 years old Main character is 11-13 years old
Shorter chapters (around 800-1200 words) Longer chapters
Often illustrated Sometimes unillustrated. Black and white line drawings.
Series is very common Standalones / series
Word count: 4000 – 30000 words Word count: 30000 +
Stinky and Jinks books are 7000 – 9000 words
Nevermoor is 30000 words Example: Harry Potter
He gave 15 helpful tips for writing a middle grade book.
1. Grab the reader at the start.
2. You must know the cast of your characters really well.
3. Your main character needs a strong, authentic voice.
4. Middle grade is high paced. Think of your character entering the scene late and getting out early.
5. End each chapter on a cliff-hanger.
6. Dialogue must advance the story or character. Keep it short.
7. Read your book aloud to find the rhythm.
8. Show, not tell.
9. Humour can work in all stories.
10. Be a ruthless editor.
11. Keep descriptions short, to match the fast pace.
12. Read widely, beyond middle grade.
13. Write a lot.
14. Be persistent. Dave’s first book published was his fifth finished manuscript.
15. Get help and get involved in the writing community.
Dave shared many funny anecdotes, his knowledge of the industry, got us working on some fun group activities and answered our many questions.
It was a pleasure to have Dave come along to Write Links to share his experiences and we all had a real hoot! Thank you Dave and we’d love to have Dave back another time.
Rebecca Sheraton is a primary school teacher and children’s writer. If she was allowed, she would teach English all day long and she loves sneaking books into her other lessons.
Rebecca writes picture books, junior fiction or middle grade and short stories. Her articles and short stories have been published in The School Magazine, anthologies and websites.
She is a member of SCBWI, Write Links Children’s writers group and several other organisations.
When she’s not writing, you’ll find Rebecca exercising, reading, drinking tea or waiting in her car for the audio book chapter to finish.
Photograph of Dave Lowe by June Perkins https://gumbootspearlz.org/