middle grade humor

Do Middle Graders Like Corny Metaphors?


Dear Editor…

An editor recommended I read a book that would be a competitor to my middle grade adventure WIP. The book was engrossing enough to keep me entertained, but I think a lot of the metaphors were rather corny. Here’s a made-up one as an example: “His words were as hard as stale pizza.” In some cases, the author actually has two or three of these metaphors on a page and I found it distracting. I do note that the book is supposed to be playful as well as adventurous. My question: Is it okay to have metaphors like that for 10- to 12-year-olds? It seems corny to me, but then I am 63 years old, not 10.

Young at Heart

Dear Young at Heart…

Indeed, humorous MG fiction can feature intentionally corny metaphors; readers that age do still chuckle over such silliness. That’s not your cup o’ tea, though, and that’s okay. We all have different sensibilities when it comes to humor, even ten-year-old boys. (I have three of those creatures, so I know firsthand.) Hammy metaphor is just one device for building an MG narrative voice with sniffs of humor. If you can craft a youthful voice using other devices—and there are many—all the better. Knowing your competition means not just knowing what’s selling but also knowing how your book stands out from the others. You’ll use that info for positioning purposes when it’s time to submit or publish. For now, work on honing a narrative voice that sounds youthful because it reflects the perspective and concerns of that age group. Leave the ham and corn to those who like that fare.

Happy writing!
The Editor