Sunday, 25 September 2016

BLOG TOUR | 'Writing For Children and Young Adults' by Marion Crook | What Makes A Great YA Novel?

Hello readers, and happy Sunday! Today I am thrilled to be on the blog tour of Marion Crook's Writing For Children and Young Adults, which is a fantastic how-to guide of what makes a brilliant YA or children's novel.

5 days ago I took part in the release day blitz, which you can check out here:

Today I am delighted to welcome Marion to my blog, where she will share her thoughts on what makes a great YA novel...

Like any good book a Young Adult novel needs intriguing characters, an interesting setting, and an exciting plot. Because teens are widely and wildly different, we can’t write for as if they share the same interests and ideas.  We write for our imaginary audience, the teens we see in our mind reading our story.  

And there has to be a story. If we ask a teen reader “Tell me about that book” they likely will give us the plot, the action that occurs. “Jeff drove his friend home form a basketball game and his car ran out of gas and he was stuck in the woods and a space ship came along and…” If we ask them “What did you like about the book” they are likely to tell us about the characters. “I liked Jeff because he didn’t always do the right thing. Sometimes he did stupid things and then he had to fix them. I liked that.” The readers must care about the protagonist. They must have an emotional connection to the main character that allows them to enter the story as if they were that main character. It doesn’t mean they must be like that character (Harry Potter is certainly unusual) but they understand that character. For the time they are reading the book, they see the world of the novel from that character’s perspective. Making that connection with the reader so that they enter into the perspective of the protagonist takes skill, talent and practice. 

Writers look for techniques to help them create that connection. They give their protagonist a problem.  That problem has to be personal, difficult, and important and have a time deadline. Suzanne, our main character, has to prove she is not a thief before the coach chooses the team for the regional competition on Friday.  Being labelled a thief is personal, important, difficult to refute and must be resolved before Friday. Giving the protagonist a problem is a rule and like all rules, we can break it, but it is a useful place to start. 

As writers we need to be aware that teens have a sub-culture that demands a separate language from the main adult culture. Teens use that language to keep adults out of their space.  They are adept at switching from adult language to teen langue appropriately, at least intelligent teens are and our protagonist is intelligent. It doesn’t take many words to indicate an “inside” language. The problem with using teen language is its rapid disappearance. By the time our book sis published that language is passé.  Using only a word or two to indicate a change in language is often all it takes to bring the reader into the teen’s world.  On the other hand, stories are frozen in time, so if you inject words that are typical of the times, such as “Golly” in a 1940s setting, readers will accept it. 

Aside from the need for superb, concise writing, well-crafted suspense or tension and appropriate subject matter, the subgenres of the Young Adult literary world have characteristics that writers need to study. There are many subgenres: dystopia, fantasy, thriller, sci-fi, historical, contemporary with typical issues around each genre. Then there are the many appropriate plot lines across genres such as the quest, coming-of-age, the problem novel, family dysfunction, relationships with authorities, reckless behavior of protagonist or friends and issues such as sexual orientation, diversity, and divorce. As is obvious, it isn’t easy to categorize Young Adult fiction. Teen readers are interested in many subjects, written in many styles, set in different worlds and time periods. 

The secret of a great Young Adult novel is vivid and distinctive characters, fascinating settings, and a driving, tense plot. 

Good luck. 

Thank you so much, Marion, for appearing on my blog! 

Make sure you guys check out Writing For Children and Young Adults here: 

Check out Marion Crook here:

Also remember to check out the other stops on the blog tour <3

Until next time :)

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