- Creating a burning, unanswered question.
- Pitting the world against them.
- Making them orphans.
In Return to Exile (only two more weeks to release!), I gave Sky, my protagonist, great parents and turned their very goodness into a roadblock. But this took time. To get immediate reader interest, I relied on burning questions and a cruel world.
It's hard to work strong adult allies into a middle-grade novel, and keep them there, because the reader will always be asking "why in the world is that kid in charge?" And most the time, the answer to that question feels very contrived.
If anyone knows of other things that work well in engaging immediate reader interest, other than the three things I've listed, I'd love to hear about it!