Remember that show? Some of you may be too young, but it was a regular morning show at my house growing up. I loved the little stick figure named Leroy. And of course the catchy tune at the start of the show. What does it have to do with my post today? Absolutely nothing. Just thought of it ... At 3am crazy things go on in your brain...lol.
Earlier in October I posted some on the webinar I did with kid lit agent Mary Kole. Today, I'll share with you what I learned on the YA market. Not everyone is a YA writer, I realize, but even if you've ever considered it, this is great info:
YA - * Two kinds of YA, including readers ages 12 and up, as well as 14-16 and up.
* Word count should be between 45k-90k
* Anything goes! (paranormal, dystopian, contemp, etc.) Just write what's in your heart.
* Don't be edgy for the sake of being edgy
* YA is about authenticity and relating to your readership
* Teens have a very sensitive BS monitor (they know when it's not realistic)
There were some questions on the paranormal romance category--why it's so popular and if it's going to last...
Mary said teens (especially girls) have a romantic obsession and these stories allow them to live vicariously through fiction. These stories have lots of action and fights. Paranormals allow teens to explore the dark side of humanity. It's still a very strong category, even if it may seem overdone at the present.
Still lots of room for contemporary (yay for me!). But contemps need a strong voice, with bigger and darker conflicts. Teens don't want %100 happy ending anymore. It's all about the bittersweet endings. Teens realize life is more complicated.
If you are writing YA, keep in mind the teen mindset:
* They go through lots of firsts (love, conflict, being a hero)
*They feel everything intensely (all those new feelings are rocking their worlds)
*There are many highs and lows everyday
*They're in the moment. Relationships are very important. (all kinds--friends, love, parents)
Best advice from Mary:
Be authentic. Do research with real teens. Don't preach or moralize. Pay attention to the guidelines for age range. Really get in their heads.
And here is what she says separates hopeful authors from actual authors:
* Authority (notice word author in authority)
Identify these elements and transfer them to your own writing. Writing is an art/craft that takes time.
As I've learned since my first story. Yikes! I started off writing YA, then dabbled in some other areas, now I'm back to YA... it seems to be where my heart is. It's such a sensitive time in a person's life, and I love the idea of helping to mold young minds.
What about you? Why do you write the genre you do?