Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Trick to Writing Young Adult Fiction, Part 1

I've been editing a book and the author recently asked me about writing for a Young Adult audience. I scratched my head and said, "I don't know" because while I've edited fiction and nonfiction of many different types, YA escapes me.

I also *gasp!* didn't even read the Harry Potter series. Please don't hate me.

When I was a young adult I did enjoy that genre. Many times I sneaked upstairs to the dusty bookshelves in my grandma's house. There I hid a old copies of Nancy Drew in my jacket until I finished and returned them a little less dusty than I had found them. Most of the books in the series followed the same premise -- young girl gets tangled in a mystery, young girl amazingly solves mystery. The end.

What I loved about Nancy Drew was I could identify with her at the time. She was on the nerdy side (am I giving away too much about my past?), but she was also confident and smart. In the end, though not "hip" by the cool kids' standards, she was pretty dang awesome. A super sleuth if you will. Sort of like a journalist maybe?

Today I probably still identify with her (I am a journalist and nerd, after all), but maybe I don't want to identify with stories that are for "little kids" or in the case of Harry Potter, I still prefer not to follow the crowd. You won't catch me waiting in line at midnight dressed up like Hermine. No sir.

It's funny that this author of the book I'm editing asked me about YA writing. Because only a few days later, I woke up from a nap with a light bulb over my head (probably the most exciting thing for a writer). Ding! An idea for a YA novel. In the past I've had ideas for religious nonfiction (which needs massive amounts of research first that I haven't even begun), fiction suspense (I've thought up and abandoned a few-- who hasn't?), and even a Broadway musical (stay tuned) but never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that YA would be on my menu.

But this impression was so strong, so vivid, and so cleaver, I had to start a file on my computer. In two days I already hashed out over 1,000 words. Now I not only need to find out the tricks for writing Young Adult fiction for this other author, I need to find them out for myself.

Tip Number One: Read the Harry Potter series.

Did I just say that?

Alright, maybe I can start with something else. Like the Diary of a Whimpy Kid. Or I could re-read my copy of Holes that I loved and placed on my sons' book self.

Here is a good blog post about YA writing over here on Women on Writing that offers some good ideas (while you're over there, check out the March/April 2010 issue which is all about YA).

Anyone else have any recommendations of good YA that doesn't involve wizards?

No comments:

Post a Comment