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Young Adult Authors Discuss the Writing Process
So the big question right now is how can an author stand out from the crowd? The answer is writing a seriously great YA novel. That may seem like the most common advice ever, right? Writing a good book should be the goal of all writers, but to hit the YA readers the hardest an author needs to make sure they are giving readers what they want and telling a good story at the same time. Great content gets noticed, and word of mouth is king in the publishing industry. The best YA novels are the ones with a character that has a strong, unique voice. This is an example of reader-proxy —a character who stands in for the reader—which is crucial to YA novels. This can make an extremely rewarding story, however, one of the caveats with this story telling is that readers do not get to see the point of view of other characters. There are some instances of YA novels told through dual first person narration, meaning we have two protagonists who are usually also acting as the antagonists to each other , for example, June and Day in Legend by Marie Lu. This form of narration can still be close, with the voice of the characters coming through the story. However, in the scenes that Harry is present, his view of life, his friends, and the world around him is distinct and clear. In order for a reader to be invested, they need to connect to the character—care about him or her, and enjoy the unique ways the character views the world. Yes, young adult fiction is aimed at readers , and the characters are usually in this age group as well or closer to But writing a story about teenagers and writing as story as a teenager is very different. A YA author must get into the head of the teenager and tell the story as a teen would tell it, with the voice of a teen, and the life experiences of a teen. Best-selling author Jodi Picoult co-wrote her YA novel, Between The Lines , with her daughter, which helped hone the voice of a teenage narrator. Click To Tweet Writing a story in masterful, intricate prose is rewarding for a writer, but not for YA readers. The beauty of a YA reader is that they will let you off the hook for writing that is more simple in nature, because the story and characters are the driving force in the story. But this means they expect a lot more from the story as well— YA readers are some of your toughest and best readers. When a writer is true to their characters and the situations they face, the prose will follow—the writing will be strong and riveting. Each sentence should prompt the reader to read the next one and the next. The goal of young adult writing is to drive a story forward and fast, not to slow down and appreciate the prosaic nature of the sentence structure. Instead, focus is placed on keeping the paragraph short, concise, and conveying emotion and movement immediately. Time is not spent on the nature of the language, instead each line tells us something new. I note how calm she looks and how focused she is. She is well-practiced in the art of losing herself. Teens are facing so many issues in their lives, and if they have the opportunity to read about it in a safe environment, as a character goes through it, then they can learn from the experience, connect, and feel as though they are not alone. Going back to The Fault in Our Stars, children and teens with cancer is a large focus of this book. The tough subject matters are what make some of the strongest stories. Readers want to finish these novels on a hopeful note, imagining that our main character has grown and will be able to survive and thrive in the future. The goal should be to leave the reader with the idea that if our main character can survive in this this reality, the reader can in real life as well. Why do you love reading young adult novels? What elements do you think should be included in this list?
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