Thursday, January 6, 2011

What I've Learned - Writing Great Books for Young Adults (1)

Wow, it's been a long time since I did one of these posts!

Writing Great Books for Young Adults: Everything You Need to Know, from Crafting the Idea to Landing a Publishing Deal

I purchased Writing Great Books for Young Adults this past weekend on my Kindle. While I'm learning lots of great things about writing, I'm also learning how to use the notes and highlighting feature on the device, and let me tell you, it makes blogging about the book much easier. All my highlights and notes are in the same place so I can see them all at a glance and easily decide which points I want to include in the post. From now on, I won't be wasting valuable blogging/writing time flipping through the pages for quotes. Yay!

In Chapter 1 of the Regina's book, she talks about some rules to live by if writing YA fiction. There are five in total, but three really stand out to me:
  1. The life of the story depends on the writer's ability to convince the reader that the protagonist is one of them.
  2. Don't be condescending to your readers.
  3. Forge new paths in the world you've created.
Now let's dig a little deeper into what each of these means to us, as writers.

First up is the believability of the protagonist. Imagine that you are a teen (or maybe you already are a teen and you don't need to imagine) and someone gives you a book about going to a high school dance, only instead of the dance being held in the school gym, it's at an elaborate hall with vases full of real diamonds for centerpieces. You're probably thinking, 'Melissa, that isn't realistic at all.', right? I know this is sort of far-fetched, but your readers, teens, are going to be able to spot someone who doesn't know their 'scene' from a mile away. And this isn't just in the setting, it permeates every aspect of your story. Remember, kids don't 'go steady' any more.

The next important thing is to not be condescending. Teens are smart. A lot smarter than most adults give them credit for. When writing, we should recognize this. The story doesn't need to be spoon fed to a teen. Nor do you need to pound a controversial opinion down their throats. More than likely, they'll just be put off by it.

This last one was interesting to me. When I first read it, I thought Brooks was trying to tell me to be creative with my story, but what she is trying to get at, is to be creative with how your story is presented. She uses the examples of writers collaborating with other writers for one book, and internet tie ins that sort of turn the book into an experience. Teens are always looking for the next "big thing" and your novel could be it!

Have you learned anything interesting this week? Which writing books are you reading at the moment?


  1. Wow. I need to get that book! Sounds awesome! Thanks for the info. I love those points.

  2. I agree with Colene, this sounds like a great book for a YA writer to have.

    I haven't read any writing related books lately, but the last one I did read was The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass. It was very helpful to me.

  3. As a high school teacher you learn very quickly never to underestimate teens. It's a fun age to write for.

  4. Sounds like a great book. I'll definitely go look for it.


  5. I have this book, but for some reason I haven't read it yet. I need to do this soon! Thanks for the reminder, doll.