Tales of a Sixth Grade Writer

Lauri Meyers children's book writer

I posted recently about finding my binder with my childhood writing, including my 3000 word story Camp Tak-a-Wak-a which was published in the local paper.  

Here's what my sixth grade self taught me about writing for children:

Action  The action was crazy fast.   It was even a little uncomfortable for an old-timer like me to keep up with the pace.  Tension was created through the tight pace and the tidbits the main character threw out.  "Oh no, not Mr. Hammond!"   Why not I wondered and kept reading to find out. 

Anything is Possible   Parts of the story were not completely plausible for the mom in me, but were totally reasonable for my young self.  She stretched some rules - what is so wrong with a 2AM bedtime?  Part of writing for children means getting to think like kids and letting your imagination run wild.

Main Character The independence of the main character suggested she was an early teen.  It follows the wisdom children want to read about slightly older characters.  She was a spunky leader which is my favorite character to write.  

Characters  I introduced a shocking 12 characters within the first two chapters, not including the 8 animals named in the story.   The adults in the story had child like habits, such as the practical joke loving camp counselor.   I took great care in naming the characters.  Isn't Lolita Famel a pleasantly bizarre name?   

Dialogue  The dialogue was choppy and slangy which sounded just like a real kid.  The dialogue allowed the story to move through a lot of action in a short space.  I used a lot of exclamation points.  In my defense many preteen girls do talk in a sort of squeal best replicated with excessive exclamation points. 

I am the same writer today.  The POV and tense were delightfully clean and consistent, which I still do pretty well if I do say so myself.  In some spots I didn't have the technique to express the vivid pictures in my head.  The plot was, well, let's say, I laid the foundation for a plot in the first chapter, but didn't really fulfill the promise.   Funny enough (or really not funny at all) I still struggle with plot.  I just want to write about something fun that happened.  I don't seem to want anyone to grow or learn a lesson or defeat evil. 

OMG, I am like still a sixth grade writer!!!  (there I go with the exclamation points again...)

What else does the MG reader need in a great story?  Please share with me in the comments. 


  1. How cool. It's awesome that your childhood story was pretty decent. I had the opposite encounter. When I went back and looked at a story I wrote in the sixth grade (called, please don't laugh: The Friendship Contest), I couldn't believe how horrible it was. The plot was the lamest ever. If I ever become a famous author, I'll have to post it on my blog, just to give others hope. LOL

    1. This plot was like so totally lame!!! (that was sixth grade me talking) I set it up as the girls go to this camp every year which is really filthy and gross. Suddenly this year it is all cleaned up. And then I proceed to tell a bunch of stories and never explain why it is clean. So yeah, I need to work on plotting.

  2. Hey, you can't write for sixth graders if you can't think like one. So cool!!!!!!! (Ooh, it was painful to type so many exclamation points. I guess I will always be an old fart.)

    And Erin is right; it is amazing your early writing wasn't more cringe-worthy. So cool. (That's better.)

    1. What's weird is that I felt like I had to read all of your exclamation points. My brain was stuck in a pinball machine for a minute. But I think that is exactly how sixth grade felt too.

      Don't worry, there was plenty of cringing. Why did I name a donkey, two mice, four geese...and a bunch of other characters who really didn't do anything? Did I have another 20,000 words planned?


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