It's moments like these that I'm extremely grateful for the facelessness of a blog. Seeing me red-nosed and drippy-eyed, bundled in blankets and surrounded by a legion of soggy Kleenex is so not a Cosmo cover moment. Not by a long shot.
Because my brain is waay too fuzzy to contemplate the wet work of editing my latest WIP, I decided I'd hole up for the day and finish my latest read, Writing and Selling the YA Novel. And because it's so awesome, I'm telling all of you to run out and get this book for yourself.
I've read a lot of 'How to write well' books. In fact, for a year or two, Becca and I would read the same books at the same time, and then discuss the concepts in each. The result is, we often recommend the same books, but only if they stand out from all the rest.
This is one of those books.
Written by K.L.Going, author of Fat Kid Rules the World, this book is pure gold several times over. As both an author and a past assistant at Curtis Brown, Going knows the business from both sides. More importantly, she knows what is needed to make a book stand out in today's tough YA market.
Most lessons in the traditional 'how to write a novel' books can translate well from Adult lit to YA. Still, as any YA writer knows, there are many differences between these two genres. In many ways, teens are sharper, more skeptical. It's harder to gain and keep their attention, and for the adult writer, it's a huge challenge to get the details right in order to convey authentic teen characters and situations that the reader will believe in.
This book explores the teenage world and looks at every aspect of writing for teens from start to finish: tight plotting & pacing, authentic voices, slang issues & relatable, memorable characters. Lessons are included at the end of each chapter to hone the skills needed to reach the reader.
One of the biggest highlights of this book is how the author surveyed teens across North America and asked them relevant questions about what they read: what kind of situations do they enjoy reading about, what turns them off a book, what makes a character's teen voice come across as fake, what topics (if any) are taboo, etc. Their thoughtful answers give a strong idea of the expectations of today's YA reader, and what it takes to keep their attention. I found it very revealing to see what their thoughts were on certain subjects.
The lessons in this book give a definite edge to the YA novelist. If you're looking for something to help you really understand your audience better, this book is a good choice for your bookshelf. Happy reading!