Saturday, March 17, 2012

Tips for Writing YA

Do you write YA? Today I attended a program led by two of my local RWA chapter members, Rae Ann Parker and Cate Hart, entitled, "High School, Superpowers and the Love Triangle." We learned quite a few interesting things about YA's growth as a genre over the past several decades and the current state of the market, and I thought I would share some highlights with everyone.

1) Protagonists of YA novels are generally 15-18 years old. It is rare that they are younger than that or older, such as college age.

2) In YA, a teen begins the book as a child but, through facing tough, more adult situations, generally ends the book (or series) with a mature perspective.

3) In middle grade books, one difference is the protagonist retains the child's perspective on life, despite what are doubtless harrowing adventures and experiences.

4) Voice is one of the primary factors in the YA novel, and tips for achieving a good YA voice including relaxing your grammar, embracing your inner drama queen and the use of first person POV.

5) High school or some facsimile thereof often plays a big part of the YA novel, and if it doesn't play a big part of the novel--the reason why it's not a part of the novel is prevalent, such as, the novel takes place in a future where there is no school or the novel takes place during summer or what have you.

6) YA characters are often orphans, have "bad parents" who don't pay enough attention to them, or are generally unsupervised. The reasons for this are varied.

7) YA books aimed at a female audience very frequently contain romances, and those romances often feature the love triangle. This triangle works best if the male love interests (since the viewpoint character is usually the female) have some sort of relationship as well instead of being totally separate.

8) YA books often have more of a happy for now than a happily ever after ending, although there is a current market tendency to include epilogues with weddings or to include weddings in the books themselves.

9) YA horror is something several editors said they were looking for, but they were not looking for YA novels in which the protagonists meet when paired at school as science lab partners, as that device has been used many times.

10) In the love triange (#7), the heroine often ends up with the guy who causes her character to experience the most growth.

YA is a huge, huge genre right now, and if you'd like to have Cate and Rae Ann come give their workshop at your chapter or writer's group, you should contact them! The presentation had a lot more information and detail than I've shared here, and they also give away a lot of door prizes. Recommended :).

Jody W.  *