Today’s Friday Feature is the multi-talented Julia Maranan, member fantastique of my fabulous writer’s group who is NOT ONLY cooking up some amazing middle grade fiction, but is also a published non-fiction author. Read on!
Hi Julia, what are you working on these days?
I’m continuing to do freelance writing and editing for various clients (including an article on immunity-boosting foods in this month’s issue of AARP the Magazine!), but I’m mainly focusing on my yet-to-be-titled middle-grade novel. It’s about a sixth grade girl who, for various reasons, wants to learn to bake but is disastrously bad at it.
I can relate! I tried your tip on how to crack eggs on a flat surface and… well… it wasn’t pretty. Really it was more of a disaster. By now it’s more like a dozen little disasters, since I kept trying to get it right. Some day you really must teach me your secret. But back to your writing: Is it difficult to transition between writing nonfiction for adults and fiction for children?
It can be tricky to switch gears between projects, but I truly enjoy both forms of writing and feel really fortunate to be able to pursue them together. There are obvious differences between the two: different audiences and vocabulary levels, very different subject matter, different source material (one is based in fact and the other relies almost entirely on my imagination). Also, I’m new to writing fiction in general, so I’m learning a lot of craft aspects as I go. And writing nonfiction for adults comes more easily to me—probably because I’ve had more than ten years of practice!—so it takes an extra measure of discipline to keep my butt in the chair to work on my novel.
But for all these differences, my health writing shares a surprising number of similarities with writing middle-grade fiction. Both require careful word choices to make sure you’re conveying information correctly to your readers. You have to watch for gaps in logic so you don’t make assumptions that the reader won’t necessarily follow and so the progression of thought makes sense. And you have to edit ruthlessly. For magazine articles in particular, there’s not a lot of room, and you can’t budge on word count. I spend a lot of time rewriting my sentences to make them more concise, and if it’s not essential, it needs to go. I also frequently run into situations where I have 1,000 words of what I consider critical information but am only allotted 750 words of space on a page. In those cases, I ask my editor to help me decide what’s most important for the audience to read. For my middle-grade novel, I rely on my *awesome* critique group in much the same way.
Aww, thanks. We love you too, comma-queen! Where can people go to find out more about you & your various types of writing?
You’re oh-so welcome! Thanks for sharing your various projects.