My middle grade manuscript

by | Apr 15, 2016

My middle grade manuscript - Nikki Young Writes

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I’ve been quiet on the blogging front recently. Sometimes, I feel as though I could quite easily spend all my time blogging and never get anything else done. I have to pull myself away from it every now in then so I can concentrate on other projects.

That means I’ve been writing, well editing really. I had a middle grade manuscript sitting on my hard drive just waiting to be completed, but never seem to get around to tackling it. Even though I didn’t sign up for Camp Nanowrimo this month, I was determined to at least tackle this story.

What started out as a short story of just under 4000 words, grew to a full length middle grade manuscript of around 20,000 last July when during Camp Nano. There was something missing though, I knew that at the time but couldn’t quite work out what it was.

Then I bought ‘Nail your novel’ By Ros Morris and set to work organising the scenes and trying to uncover the missing piece. Using her advice of index cards for each scene meant I could move them around to make sure the story flowed. I knew then what I had to do to make the story complete. For some reason, I then left the manuscript to work on other things and it is only now I’ve managed to come back to it and finish the job.

Do you know what? I’m pleased with the result, I really am. Sometimes, time away from your writing is a good thing. It helps you see things more clearly. Last week, therefore, I managed to edit and add in the missing pieces to what is now a finished middle grade manuscript draft of around 21,000 words.

I read the story aloud to check for flow and pace. I think it is always good to do this, no matter how silly you feel. In fact, I do it with everything I write, whether it’s articles, blogs or fiction work. This time, I read the story to my two younger children and not only did they love it, they gave me great feedback and ideas for improvement (I didn’t tell them it was my story until after we’d finished reading it, just to make sure they weren’t biased).

The story is written in diary form, with the main character, Harry being at the centre. His two friends, James and Stacey each contribute to the story which describes what happens when they form a secret agency, intending to act as spies to solve any mysteries that come their way.

Their first case is to investigate why clothes are being stolen from the washing lines of the people who live in their street. Harry’s lucky underpants are amongst the missing items and he feels lost without them. In Harry’s mind, these pants are the reason he can compete with best friend James and why his team have always done so well at football.

After a week of stake-outs and following leads, the case is solved, although the culprit is a surprising one. Harry’s lucky underpants are nowhere to be seen and he begins to affect him; playing badly at football at the risk of losing his precious place on the team.

With a shortage of mysteries to solve, the boys cause trouble by playing tricks on their neighbours, including Stacey, a girl from their school, who also happens to live next door to Harry. Just when the boys think they have run out of things to do some new people move in to their street, to number 35: the house that has been unoccupied for years.

Meanwhile, Stacey gets back at the boys for playing tricks on her. She starts her own secret agency and makes some interesting discoveries when investigating the new arrivals. Putting their differences aside, Harry, James and Stacey come together to find out what is really going on at number 35.
Harry’s need to have a lucky charm to help him achieve is addressed throughout the story, with him eventually learning that he doesn’t need them after all.

Now I have to work out what to do with it. My first port of call is probably agents, followed by direct to any publishers accepting manuscripts and after that I will look at the self-publishing route.
This is the first time in a while I have been excited about a project so I’m determined to keep up that enthusiasm and take it to the next level.

Oh and I forgot to say, It’s called The Mystery of the Disappearing Underpants!

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  1. Victoria Welton

    I know what you mean about the blogging versus doing other stuff! I really like the sound of your book – and the fact that you got some help on the missing part. My other half did something similar with his film scripts and has a much better idea of how to construct them now. Good luck with it all. #TheTruthAbout

    • Nicola Young

      Thanks. It’s a long process isn’t it? But I really want to take this to publication so I will persevere.

  2. Carie

    I think it sounds brilliant – go for it, what have you got to loose!! And I know what you mean about blogging – sometimes I think I could just keep writing posts all day every day and then sometimes my brain just has enough and switches onto something else!!

  3. Rebecca Ann Smith

    Sounds like a great story Nicola, I can imagine lots of kids loving it. And it sounds like you’ve got a solid plan to get it out there. Good luck!

  4. turningupindevon

    Blogging is so addictive and time consuming. In your post you wrote a synopsis/blurb of your book – I want to know what happens at no 35 now! This will be great with writing your query letter / synopsis when you submit to agents/publishers, all the best with that 🙂

  5. sophieblovett

    This sounds great! Well done you for getting it finished 🙂 It is always good to take a break from blogging from time to time I reckon and focus back on all the things that can fall by the wayside. Good luck with your submissions! xx

  6. maddy@writingbubble

    Ooh how exciting! I had no idea you were working on a whole new project – sounds fab! Good luck with the next step. I’m finding blogging is totally taking over for me at the moment so I’ve promised myself that once the #THISislearning campaign is over I have to find more time fro writing and drawing! Thanks for linking to #WhatImwriting

  7. Suz

    Sounds a fun story. Good luck with it.



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