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Students Should Be Thrilled

Here are some complaints that I’ve heard in just the last week.

A mother in Target said to me, “My daughter is in fourth grade. There is nothing for her to read. And looking at the young adult section, there is nothing appropriate when she goes to middle school. And a lot of these books are massive and intimidating.”

Samantha, a seventh grader, said this to me. “I usually read four chapters in a book and then stop, because I don’t understand what’s going on. So many books are confusing.”

A high school student in Books-A-Million said this, “Everything is vampires. And it seems that they are trying to copy off each other.” She then left the teen section and went to browse the adult fiction books.

Teachers (and parents) have the challenge of promoting reading to their students. As books become more dark and inappropriate, it adds more difficulty to that challenge.

My passion over the last fifteen years has been psychological thrillers for adults. I decided to take that same genre and write for middle school and high school students. That is how the Middle Room Series had started.

My goals:

  • Create intensity and emotions, rather than writing a book that is dark and may offend students, teachers, and parents.
  • The reader should feel concern for the main characters, become nervous when the villains are introduced, and excited as the story unravels.
  • The book should thunder along in an incredibly fast pace. This is done in two ways. First, I stick to the main story and stay away from sub-plots, backgrounds, and anything that will slow the story down. Second, I write short paragraphs and short chapters. This builds the reader’s confidence and keeps the book entertaining.
  • In a thriller, the objective, mission, or main goal, should be personal to the reader, or some sort of global conflict. I think having both of those viewpoints will add to the thrills. In Middle Room, the idea is that every middle school in the world has to deal with this problem. (Global conflict.) I chose one school to tell the story, so the reader’s understand the details of what the students have to go through. (Personal to the reader.)
  • Thrillers have some sort of time limit, or urgency in which the main characters must resolve the situation. In Middle Room, I use the school year.
  • Outside forces, other than the villains, add to the characters conflict. In Middle Room, the students believe they are on their own to deal with the villains, because the parents and teachers do not fully understand the situation, adding to the tension.
  • Details should be accurate, creating believable fiction. This is the heart of a great psychological thriller. What the student characters are going through must be relatable to what actual middle school students go through. Many authors believe that by using the most horrible events a student can experience will be entertaining in a book. That is absolutely the wrong approach. I use the setting, which is middle school, and add believable fiction. The simplicity of that logic is what makes an entertaining psychological thriller. The reader constantly questions what is real and what is possibly real.
  • When the story is finished, the reader should be satisfied and learn something along the way, anxious for the next book. 

A thriller is a wave of nervous emotions and sensations, both good and bad. A psychological thriller places those emotions in the readers mind, creating an adventure ride that will entertain the reader long after they finished the book…

Ron Knight 

New Youth Author Program: http://www.authorronknight.com/youth-author-program/

New books for children and tweens: http://www.authorronknight.com/book-previews/

Follow my blog at www.upauthors.com/blog  

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